February 27th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
10 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. Michael

    Face it, Senator. You're an infant compared to Senator McCain.

    February 27, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Barack Oprah

    When did Obama win the nomination?
    Did CNN forget to report the juicy news?

    February 27, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. John in CA

    That's what I've been saying all this time. Obama is not against war! Obama is only against the war in Iraq... Wake up fellow Democrats!

    February 27, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Randy - Denver

    Wow two polite candidates talking about an issue.. a prelude to the real campaign. This will be a good one!

    February 27, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Mike Malloy

    Was McCain for the 100 year war before he was against it?
    Does anybody know where McCain stand any more?
    Did he change his mind once again today?

    Have I told you tonigh how much I hate these people?

    February 27, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. Adam - TX

    Obama didn't even hold one oversight committee meeting for his sub committe on Afghanistan. Let's be honest, he's only serving this committee to beef up his campaign resume.

    Blaming the amount of time you have because of the campaign is a terrible excuse. Do your job. You're still a US Senator. We don't want a president who in four years will be too busy worrying about his re-election rather than dealing with national issues because of the amount of time he has.

    February 27, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. king from toronto

    no matter who said what.the point of the matter is the war is wrong from day one.and still is.an i want americans to look at the devastation it has cause,an is still causin,not only americans,but canadians as well.

    February 27, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Praetorian, Ft. Myers, FL

    Obama is such a nuncio on national defense. Is unready.

    A potential Commander In Chief who would not only give our enemies his strategy–but his timeline, is either just plain stupid or just plain ignorant.

    Let me recommend some good reading for the Barack:

    1. The Memoirs of Gen Westmoreland
    2. The Memoirs of Gen Grant
    3. Any periodical or thesis from the USA, USN, USAF War College.
    4. The Memoirs of LTG George S. Patton

    Let's see if his ideas on the role and responsibilities of the Commander In Chief change a little. Hell maybe he'll even wear a flag on his lapel!!

    February 27, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Tim

    This may be an over-generalization, but all that I seem to be hearing from the political right on the topic of Iraq and national security is incomplete information and fear mongering. Please, John McCain, don't talk to me about "winning" and "losing" the war. We have already lost; we have lost over 3,000 American lives in a war over WMD's that didn't exist and Al Qeada that wasn't even there in the first place. But according to our president, we "won" the war in 2003. This war has accomplished nothing. Our strategy going forward should be focused on diplomatic action in conjunction with our allies around the world to stabilize the region, not on the 'us against the world' cowboy attitude of the past 7 years.

    February 27, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. carol

    why is Obama meddling in grown folk's business. He knows nothing about that. He wants to bomb Pakistan. Obama, just keep your mouth close. You're going to win anyway, even if you know absolutely nothing about nothing.

    February 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. maggie

    On a former post...about McCain being hard to beat...many of them stated that they were Democrats but would vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee. I feel the same. The numbers are growing. Are you listening DNC? Seems to me it's time to think about doing the right thing with Florida and Michigan. Superdelegates...are you listening? Quit changing your loyalties from Clinton to Obama if you don't want Republicans to keep the White House in November.

    Remember the numbers are growing...and growing. There is a Democrats for McCain movement forming out here!

    February 27, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Paul

    Even if you accept Obama's premise, you can't change history. Now, it really does not matter how, why or when Al Qaeda got into Iraq. They are there now as he admits and if we leave without beating them first, they win. So then Obabma goes on to say he would act if Al Qaeda formed a base in Iraq. Didn't he just admit they were there already? Doesn't act mean send in troops or are we going to ask them to leave? Suppose we withdraw, won't they have a base then for sure? Therefore by Obama's own words we would have to act and go back in. I guess this means he wants to withdraw and then reinvade.

    February 27, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. Observer, Jacksonville, FL

    Watch out McCain before attempting to attack Obama. The man analyzes all statements he makes before making them. He knew how he would answer you, if you dared to say anything like what you just said about him this morning.

    February 27, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Gary in CT

    I would have to say...."TOUCHE!"

    February 27, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Go Hillary, Fort Lauderdale

    Uhh-Uhh-Uhh those are the only 3 words Obama can say. He sounds so non-professional when he speaks. I just cant imagine what people see in him. GO HILLARY!!!

    February 27, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. Stephen

    And this is why Obama does not have a chance against McCain

    February 27, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. angie

    AHAHHAHA McCain's statement was awsome and the usually cool Obama seemed to be speechless with a most sad reply... Gotcha Obama

    February 27, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  18. Loila

    WoW I love obama
    Put aside all this ignorance obama is RIGHT.

    February 27, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  19. joanna

    John Mc Cain....what allies are you talking about? by now, the whole world knows there is no such thing anymore and whoever that was has left the sinking ship........you and your supporters may bask alone in you painful glory!

    February 27, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. Mike

    Popular saying by Mccain. " I will follow Osama Bi laden to the gates of hell!" It is strongly believed he is in Parkistan. Will McCaine follow him to that gate of hell ?

    February 27, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. Chris Austin TX

    Apparently Obama really doesn't know what's going on. I've read many reports from troops oversea's that have denounced Obama's propoganda. Yes, our troops have ammo. Yes our troops are well supplied. Obama said that our troops in Afghanistan lacked supplies and were having to use the enemey ammunition.

    McCain will drill Obama in a general election. All Obama wants is to withdraw the troops because it gives him brownie points to the people uneducated about the war. We are still fighting terrorism, we arn't just rebuilding Iraq (which has gone on far too long). What needs to be done is stop rebuilding Iraq, and focus on terrorism.

    Down with Obama and his uneducated opinion on this Iraq War. What will you tell the families of the 3,000+ soliders who fell in combat? (O i'm sorry your sons, daughters, fathers, mothers died fighting terrorism, but it was all in vein because we're leaving now without finishing the job). Leave Iraq to the Iraqi's and concentrate on the Terrorists is what I vote.

    Obama with no national security experience, no war time experience, should not be elected into office during WAR TIME.

    February 27, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. Dennis

    Notice what McCain did with his statement? He attempted to twist Obama's position into one which suggests that Obama doesn't support our troops. That isn't what Obama has said at all. McCain knows it. Withdrawing our troops from Iraq is not mutually exclusive of supporting our troops. Obama has said numerous times that he supports using our troops in the appropriate places and at the appropriate times and that he wants them to be properly equipped.

    February 27, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Osk

    Whatever you opinion of Obama, he is correct. There was no hard connection between Iraq and Al Quaida before we went to war. We went there to find WMDs and we failed at that. Meanwhile, the situation blew up in our faces and we got caught in a civil war between the Sunni and Shi'ite. Al Quaida moved in to take advatage of the situation and now the whole thing is a Charlie Fox.... Obama pulling out the trrops may be the best move of all. Then we can refocus our military on the true target, Osama bin Laden.

    February 27, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Fernandez

    Obama needs to talk to the commanders on the ground. You pull out today and it is going to cost us ten times more to go back in there and fix the unfinished problem.

    Whether it was a misguided war or not, now is the time to fix for good so we do not have to go back in there again.
    Mr. Obama reading papers is not enough to understand what is going on Iraq. How many people has Obama talked to, who are on the ground in Iraq.
    Maybe Obama should talk Michael Ware, CNN reporter in Iraq about the consequences of a pull out of Iraq now.

    February 27, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |

    No amount of Cheerleading and proud flag-wavy bravado by McCain, will alter the reality that Iraq is an ongoing quagmire and disaster area. Peace in tiny pocket "Green Zones", due to overwhelming troop presence, will not fool most Americans. Appreciable "success" in Iraq is a sham, and there's no flag large enough to hide that.

    February 27, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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