February 27th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama and McCain trade barbs on Iraq

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/02/27/mccain.obama.iraq/art.mccain.camp.gi.jpg caption=" McCain and Obama got into a back in forth over Iraq Wednesday."]COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) – Presidential frontrunners Barack Obama and John McCain clashed over Iraq policy Wednesday, as the Illinois Democrat directed most of his criticism at the Arizona Republican – not his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton – during a campaign stop in this capital city six days before next week’s primary.

“John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq,” Obama said.

Earlier, McCain released a statement that attacked Obama for his comments at Tuesday’s debate that were critical of the Iraq war.

"Last night, we also heard Sen. Obama say that once he withdrew US forces from Iraq he would 'reserve the right' to act 'if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq,'” McCain said in the statement. “Is Sen. Obama unaware that Al Qaeda is still present in Iraq, that our forces are successfully fighting them every day, and that his Iraq policy of withdrawal would embolden Al Qaeda and weaken our security?

“Where is the audacity of hope when it comes to backing the success of our troops all the way to victory in Iraq? What we heard last night was the timidity of despair. Our allies deserve better, our soldiers deserve better, and so do the American people."

During his appearance at Ohio State University, Obama accused McCain of trying to score cheap political points.

“McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying 'Well, let me give you some news, Barack, al Qaida IS in Iraq,' like I wasn’t reading the papers, like I didn’t know what was going on. …”

“But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq… he took us into war along with George Bush that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.

Obama continued, “They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11, and that would be al Qaida in Afghanistan that is stronger now than at any time since 2001. I’ve been paying attention, John McCain! That’s the news. So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq…”

Obama’s appearance was one of his first forays to the Central Ohio city that lies at the heart of what has traditionally been one of the most hotly-contested general election battleground areas in this bellwether state.

On Wednesday, the Obama campaign also announced the endorsement of North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, and that the number of donors had surpassed one million.

- CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand and Chris Welch

soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. JohnS

    Hillary is definitely losing this race, regardless of whether she wins Texas and Ohio. This is simple common sense and math.

    Why are Hillary supporters and Hillary blaming just about everyone out there but her campaign managers and herself:

    It's the media against Hillary
    It's the Clinton haters against Hillary
    It's the lovers of Monica Lewinsky against Hillary
    It's the problem of being given the FISRT question each time.
    It's becuase Obama copies Hillary's answers
    It's because of that period of the month
    It's because of not "meeting me in Ohio earlier for the debate."
    It's because of not finding time to file my taxes

    When is this ever going to stop? I care less about the positions of these candidates. I am interested in leadership that;

    will restore the values and image of the U.S. to the world
    will make me feel proud at home and abroad
    will give me real HOPE about the challenges that lie ahead
    will BRING people together to solve real problems!!!

    February 27, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. Ann

    I hope somebody will proof how insolent Obama is. He may read the newspapers to get the news, McCain has a son who fought in Iraq. And stop with this non sense of Obama and the Iraq war. He was on the margins when he 'opposed' it, he had no idea how he would vote if he was in the Senate, he did nothing for one year as chairman of the Senate for foreign relation re Afghanistan. And he is mocking now at everybody knowing or hoping in the credulity of his followers.

    February 27, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Tim

    McCain completely missed the point. Obama simply answered the question Russert asked.

    McCain is part of the reason al Queda is in Iraq. al Queda was in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not Iraq until Bush duped America into a war in Iraq. Bush is the poster boy for al Queda recruitment and McCain wants to take his place.

    February 27, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  4. cindy

    Obama nomination= McCain president !

    February 27, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. LisaMpls

    The fact remains that al-Qaeda is in Iraq now. Enough talk about how we all got there because we all already know how. We need to elect the leader who can best get us out of there...who has the understanding, competence, knowledge and gumption to get the job done?? Artificial 16-month deadlines like Barack's don't cut it because he cannot know exactly how long it will take and promising 16 months just gives us false hope. I support Hillary to get us out of Iraq quickly but carefully. I believe she better understands what it will take to accomplish the redeployment.

    February 27, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. Bernie

    OK, so Al-Qaeda arrived after we entered Iraq. So, are we just going to walk away? We know what kinds of things these bastards do. Point is, pulling everyone out isn't the answer. That would only make Al-Qaeda stronger. We made the same mistake in the first Gulf war – we pulled out too soon and, well, we know the rest of the story. Wheter you agree or not that we should or shouldn't have gone into Iraq is acedemic. Knee-jerking our troops out and hoping for the best is foolhardy. Ask the South Vietnamese about this.

    February 27, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  7. don

    What an awesome response from Obama.

    February 27, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. ProudVet

    Mc Mc: Is Sen. Obama unaware that Al Qaeda is still present in Iraq?
    and he wants to fight the 100 years war? Al Qaeda wouldn´t be in Iraq if he would have voted against the invasion....he keeps hoping for success because he has no other way to go...and success is so far out of reach that we need a change and come November he can relax in his senate seat.
    The question is: How is he going to pay for staying in Iraq if we already owe, the chinese, saudi arabia, japan et al.
    What has he done for his fellow vets? absolutely nothing, with about a quarter million of them HOMELESS=shame on you mc mc; now the economy is an issue which concerns most of the U.S. voters, he will continue with his denial and say:It is excellent!.

    A former POW does not make him an expert on anything and he is not. Well, we are in an endless war and he voted in favor. Good judgement and MISSION ACCOMPLISHED......what a joke.

    February 27, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  9. Matt

    Do you people think McCain was off the mark here? Truth is, he was right on the mark. Sorry to all you folks who think we can go back in time to take Al Qaeda out of Iraq – our only choice is to at least support the fight against them there as well. We are still fighting in Afghanistan too, though you might have to dig past the more catchy headlines on a ticker to know that. The easiest thing in the world to do is to simply say "lets pull out of Iraq." The harder thing is actually making a wise, well thought out decision and execute it.

    It's also easy to forget all the atrocities committed by Sadam Hussein, his use of chemical weapons on Kurdish villages, his grossly oppressive regime, his financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and his aggression towards other nations. During the Clinton years, we were constantly engaging Iraqi targets encroaching into a demilitarized zone. He continually expelled UN weapons inspectors, the entire situation escalated greatly not just during Bush's years in office, but also those of Bill Clinton.

    February 27, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. Cat, Costa Mesa, CA

    You're right Obama. Leaving the country in the shambles it's in is in the best interest of America. Weak government NEVER get overthrown by large powerful militants!! NEVER!!

    Obama, should you get in office, I can't wait until you stare General Petreus in the face, and stare in the eyes of all our service men and women and tell them that all their all their lives, all their deaths, everything they sacrificed never even mattered! You tell them that the AMERICAN government will NOT allow them to finish their job. And while you're at it, make sure to relay the meesage to all americans, that when things get tough, the government says it's ok to to cut bait and run! The government actually condones it!!

    Yes, all mighty one, there is hope for this country of ours under your stead!

    February 27, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  11. J.I

    America is proving its greatness! white people and blacks are showing the world that there is one America, America is leading the way, racism wll be a thing of the past. People of all races have found in Barack a good candidate for the preidency of this great country.
    Obama himself is showing that he is qualified and ready for the job. So lets do it, vote for Obama.

    February 27, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  12. JB

    I am a democrat, but I have said in the past that if McCain runs for president, he would get my vote, because when he spoke, he sounded like a real person who understood what was going on and made sense, not like a "politician". Lately, however, he has sounded like a politician, so I will not be voting for him. I believe that we have created a mess in Iraq, and it is our responsibility to clean it up, and we are making great progress. I don't believe the right thing to do is just pull out–that doesn't make sense. If a democrat stands up and says we need to clean up our mess in Iraq as we leave, they will get my vote. Otherwise, they just sound like politicians trying to play on the fact that most Americans don't want to be there.

    February 27, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  13. kevin

    Lets be clear 'my friends' Obama is correct in his reply to sen. mccain. The facts are very clear. Until we went to invade iraq which is not where any Al-Qaida were at the time. Remember sheeple..9-11 has no connection to iraq what so ever. Even Bush has said that before he sold the lie with Cheney...they repeated it over and over ..and some uniformed Americans bought into that. Al-Qaida now has infiltrated Iraq..less than 20% by most generals study. You see bush opened this can of worms. We left Afghanistan to create a civil war. We need to be in Afghanistan, along the pakistan border where AlQaida has rebuilt much more. Obama was correct...MCCain is wrong. Do you really want to support this failed policy as our children die in the wrong war, fought in the wrong place. Our military has lived up to that wrong war and die needlessly. Bush went for the oil, haliburton etc. The real terrorist continue to breed along the pakistan and Afghan border. Time for intelligent change. I am sick of losing a family member and friends in iraq...to quell their civil, religious war. Let us fight the real terrorist to make us safe.

    February 27, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  14. Artrell

    Great arictle, thank you again for writing.

    June 24, 2011 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
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