February 4th, 2008
06:27 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain says popularity is due to Iraq surge

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday, he owes his support in the presidential race to a successful troop surge in Iraq.

“If the surge had not succeeded I don’t think that I would have political viability,” the Arizona senator told CNN’s Dana Bash adding, most experts would agree with him.

The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows 45 percent of registered Republican voters support McCain for their party’s nomination. Mitt Romney trails behind with 24 percent of support.

When questioned about recent criticism that he doesn’t have the temperament to be president, Sen. McCain used the opportunity to tout his conservative record and Republican support.

“We wouldn’t be winning these elections if I had any significant opposition anywhere in the party."

Related video: Watch a clip of Dana Bash's interview with Sen. McCain

- CNN’s Emily Sherman

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Jeff, North Dakota

    War monger! Both McCain and Romney are war mongers who could not care less about our troops in harms way. If they did they would be campaigning to end Bush's Iraq debacle.

    February 5, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  2. Scott from Freehold

    Talk about nonsense. When will the media stop portraying the surge as successful? It is not. Al Sadr has strategically calmed his forces – for now. Sunnis made their own decision to turn on al Qaeda before the surge began. There has been virtually no political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia groups. The violence could rage again at any moment. Our troops are over-extended. Troops that should be in Afghanistan, are not, and that country now teeters on the brink.

    The surge is an utter failure.

    February 5, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  3. Taylor

    Anyone that thinks the surge is working, is crazy. That's why the only Republican I would vote for is Ron Paul.

    February 5, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  4. SPQR753

    McCain will win the GOP nomination only because he is better that the rest of the surviving GOP candidates,.

    However a few months ago he used to sing "bomb, bomb, bom, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran etc etc" and that is irresponsible bragadoccio at the very least.

    I'm sure American electors will reject four more years of the same irresponsible Foreign policy…..

    McCain served this Country with Honor and distinction and should "gracefully" retire at the end of his term as a Senator.

    February 5, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. DP, Jacksonville, FL

    I'm not convinced that the surge is "working." First, I don't believe this is war that can be won. As Westerners we don't really understand life in the Muslim world and the differences that have lead to the wars in the Middle East.

    A year ago the problems in Iraq were in the forefront of voter's minds. The failure of our economy helped to distract, but the spin that the surge has now improved the situation in Iraq was a calculated part of the overall campaign plan. The final step was the collective attempt by the GOP to try to twist our botched invasion into a planned prolonged occupation by way of discussing long-term occupation plans.

    An example of this tactic being used in the past is the issue of illegal immigration. Before the 2006 elections, can anyone remember this being a regular topic of discussion?

    There are a lot of Americans who supported the removal of Sadam Hussein from power (myself included), but I can't imagine that any one of the Republican candidates doesn't privately look upon the mess we've created in Iraq as an absolute disaster that we're paying for in human lives.

    February 5, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. Midge from Ohio

    McCain you are an egotistical idiot........I will vote Democratic before I would vote for you.

    February 5, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  7. John

    McCain and 'friends' are responding to the conservative cry NOT TO VOTE FOR MCCAIN.

    The true conservatives are calling McCain for what he is – Rush Limbaugh and many others are endorsing Romney as the only choice of a conservative candidate. That is saying volumes.

    Vote fore ROMNEY and save our Republican Party !! He will lead us into a strong economy. A govt. for the people by the people. Vote for smaller government control, and give the country back to the people.

    And McCain is not a nice person... hot-temper, unfaithful, deceitful (running as a conservative when all the while he is liberal to the bone) etc...
    He'll not only keep us in a 100 year war 'My Friend' ... he'll have them so mad he'll bring the war home to us.

    VOTE FOR ROMNEY!! Save our country and our economy. Romney can get us out of debt. You may notice he is one of the only candidates that didn't have to borrow and put all he had on the line... quite impressive. He can do that with our country too !!

    February 5, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    McCain is riding on old popularity since he is still using the maverick persona. That doesn't really apply to him any more. The only reason that conservative talk people oppose him is that he has worked with Democrats for various things like campaign finance reform. McCain occasionally thinks for himself, but not always since he supports making the tax cuts permanent; foolish during this time of conflict and no other reduction of spending.

    February 5, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. jerome

    "News Flash Senator", the majority of Americans hate this war!!! Go ahead, and "surge" yourself right out of any shot in the general election!

    February 5, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. jimdon


    1,742 day's ago "MISSION IN IRAQ WAS ACCOMPLISHED" now 3,944 american soldiers have been buried,, allmost 900 of them due to the socalled surge,, tens of thousands of others have been maimed,,tens of thousands more are suffering WAR stress,VA hospitals cant keep up,those of the WAR PARTY want the war to continue,McCain say's for 100 years,,,,,$10,billion a month,taken away from the needs of american's,non of these republican's mention George Bush in their campaign's, they all champion Ronald Reagan,why is that?.....

    February 5, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  11. Mary

    John McCain, you need to go home, get back on your Aricept and leave this country to Obama.
    And why are we in Iraq? No WMD's,.
    I agree, a vote for McCain is a vote for WWIII.
    Yes We Can!!!!!

    February 5, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. ne,pa

    Of course McCain would want the surge. No surprise there!
    He's all about war no matter what. He wants troops and more troops all over. The man thrives on war and acts like he was the only POW ever!
    He walked around Bagdad with a bullet proof vest and ground and air cover and said it was safe! He has no credibility with me!

    McCain's so freaking self righteous he makes me gag!

    February 5, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. carol

    I am very dissappointed with some of the comments about Mrs. Clinton. Every comment I read, it sound personal. Take a good look at the woman who came to New York and did a wonderful job as a Senator. You are the same people who voted for her. She is a very strong woman, who was one of first lady's in the white house. Who's been through so much and still rise above that and continue to do her job with dignity. She has the experienced for crying out loud and would take this country to a higher ground. Yes we need change. We need a strong, powerful and experienced person to take this country in the right direction. And that person is Hilary Clinton.

    February 5, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Todd C.


    February 5, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. David

    McCain, you are a war-mongerer. I may be GOP but this war is a sham. it is bleeding this country and lining the pockets of the elite (international coporations and banking). you don't know squat about the economy as you proved in the last debate. you'd let the illegal Federal Reserve continue to ruin us by the continued practice of printing more money backed by nothing! and then loan it to banks at interest. and you'd probably continue the Bush parctice of letting China help finance the war. so then in the future, China can ruin us without ever firing a shot.

    February 5, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. jp/michigan

    The surge worked because the Iraqi people know now that the American people are sick and tired of supporting them. Half of the money given to them didn't benefit the actual people of Iraq. THERE WILL BE NO REPUBLICAN IN THE OVAL OFFICE COME JAN.21,2009. They will have to finally have to step up to the plate. John McCain may get the nomination , but it will be his last hurrah! He has been trying for that position for over a decade.

    February 5, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. james, lou,ky

    This guy is a joke,anyone who votes for is a bigger joke... he is just another bush in the yard, whats he mean by see the surge worked and I was for it...give me a break what did we win? Its not over by a long shot, when our troops are home its over.

    February 5, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. Uncle Sam

    I support John McCain, not because he is free of flaws. What impresses me about him is that he opted to remain a prisoner of war for over five years, including torture and two years of solitary confinement, rather than leave his fellow soldiers behind. That he has the moral courage to stand up for what he believes in, regardless of the criticism it will bring. That he can unify the party and the country. And that is why he has earned my trust and that is why America respects and admires him. He is a hero in my book.

    February 5, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. MJ

    McCain has Juan Hernandez on his campaign staff. Former Mexican cabinet member who says that 7th Generation Mexican Americans should think of themselves as Mexican first. McCain's campaign treasurer is the founder of Univision spanish language television. Do your homework. I am a republican who will never vote for McAmnesty.

    February 5, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. A.K.

    The shame is with old Juan McAmnesty.

    February 5, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Bill

    Guiliani's claim: He reduced crime in NYC.
    Fact: "Freakonomics" – Abortion being legalized in 70s and 80s resulted in the would-be crime committers from being born.

    McCain's claim: He recommended "the surge".
    Fact: Yes, troop increases have calmed civil unrest to certain degree like excess police might transiently calm a high crime area. But its not necessarily sustainable unless you address the root causes. The real cause of slightly lower casualties in the past few months are due to fed-up locals turning against the foreign fighters there, the tribal leaders being paid loads of money to quieten down and an exodus of people out from the country.

    Politicain's general claims: I was responsible for the improvements. I was not responsible for the degradations.
    Fact: Government can't really do much about anything. Things just take a course and the inevitable just happens. Minimal government, minimal mess.

    February 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. Rob in PA

    Ok I'm a Democrat, but I think the mainstream conservatives and the media just don't get it about McCain's success. The Rush Limbaugh type's hatred of McCain is what I see as as the very reason he is doing well. The American people are sick of the polarization, the divisiveness between the Democrats and Republicans. It's about November stupid! He is the only Republican that can appeal to the Independents and presents a conciliatory tone on wedge issues (which I always believed where only that – wedges, the country will never reach consensus on these issues so why base your vote on them). It is time to get something, hell, anything done in Washington. We may not like everything one stands for but standing still and fighting isn't the answer. That is the reason he is doing well with the less vocal conservatives while the conservative pundits reel. Now, as a Democrat let me add that his consistent support of Bush on Iraq guarantees that he still won't get my vote in November.

    February 5, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  23. William A

    I just have one question on John McCain's remark.
    What Popularity is it you speak of ?

    February 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Jose Card - Independent

    Senator McCain is right about his statement.

    February 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  25. Juanita Johnson

    McCain's competition is on the Democratic side in the man Barak Obama.

    February 5, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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