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. Joe

    Obama is a lightweight.

    February 27, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. RPF

    Senator Obama makes very good points and speaks the truth. Al Qaeda was not in Iraq when we invaded Iraq. We should be going after Osama bin Laden and those responsible for 9/11. Al Qaeda is stronger now and this is a misguided war. We are not safer since we have invaded Iraq – just the opposite. Senator McCain acts like he is the only person who knows what's going on and everyone else is an idiot when it comes to the war.
    As a side-note, did Senator McCain say he'd follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell? I remember Mr. Huckabee saying that in one of the debates.

    February 27, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Ben

    The problem I have with this whole debate is that Senator McCain admitted that he did not watch the debate, but heard about Obama's comments from an aide. If Senator McCain wants to score political points, he should know exactly what his opponent said, not what his aide thought about Obama's comments.

    February 27, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  4. v.ananthan


    MCCAIN WILL BEAT YOU:..........

    February 27, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. Myra

    WOW ! ! ! GO BARACK

    February 27, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. onenibble

    If Obama withdraws troops the infighting and insurgents will destroy Iraq and we will only have to return to Iraq. Obama knows absolutely nothing about foreign policy but the illusion continues.

    February 27, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Bayou Joe

    Obama couldn't find Iraq on a map., much less identify the players in the Middle East. McCain knows the enemies of America and will defend our country. Go McCain

    February 27, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Vince

    Imagine that.... actually calling out Republican garbage with facts and a SPINE!

    I "love" it !!!!

    February 27, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. paul mooney

    so let me see if I understand your position, Senator Obama. If you are elected, you will start bringing trooops home from Iraq, but you reserve the right to act if Al Qaeda is found to have established a base in Iraq. What does "act" mean? Does that mean you would send our troops back to Iraq? How many and for how long? Wouldn't it me more prudent to let our troop defeat the enemy now rather than waste all that money moving them back and forth?

    February 27, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. JT

    McCain has no arguements against Obama. For such a war monger, McCain is going to find he has no fight against a man that is ready to move this country in a new direction.

    February 27, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. On Borrowed Time, Atlanta, GA

    Now the real election begins! The contrast between the Obama message and the McCain message will be clear as day. No more wasted time in the weeds between a new healthcare plan with a mandate or not. This election will simply come down to a continuation of the Bush Administration policies and a new, more hopeful policy direction!

    February 27, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. chris

    good job Obama sticking up to reality already...I know John McCain will try to twist stuff around.

    February 27, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |

    For all of those Senator Clinton supporters that say they will jump ship and vote for Senator McCain when Senator Obama is chosen as the nominee. You really better think about what's best for this country and try to keep your personal feelings out of it, because all you all will get is more of G.W. Bush.

    February 27, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. Vig

    Notice how Clinton has been taken out of the equation – it's business as usual – only men can have the power, only men can control the universe, the dialogue is only between men. Texas and Ohio – let the election process go to the election floor. Put the brakes on this male b.s.

    February 27, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. OBAMA 08


    February 27, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |


    February 27, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Marc

    Nice one, Senator McCain. I believe Barack will need that "Foreign Policy Instruction Manual" as suggested by Senator Clinton.

    February 27, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. nic

    McCain also made a ridiculous statement about how Bush's tax cuts benefit families, and should be made permanent. He went on to say that corporations need more tax breaks...

    Where's that in the ticker?

    February 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Ray C

    It is unfortunate to see that the majority of our polititians, with very few exceptions, have become professionals at the trade and abandoned the real meaning of their call – honestly serving the people!
    It is very visible by listening to the highly polished jargon they use, and realizing that what was said, has very little substantial content to the issue at hand. That's why, I will vote Republican!

    February 27, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Michelle

    Kudos to Obama .The truth is, almost 70% of Americans are tired of this war and want the troops brought home
    the troops are worn thin and burnt out from repeated tours.Bless them all ...they have done a noble job!! their families are suffering, suicide is up!!
    It may seem like peace over there but basically the American peoples tax dollars are going to baby sit militant groups
    They are being paid millions of dollars by the American gov not to kill each other
    Its ABSURD!!! May seem harsh but its the truth!!
    Get off their soil and leave them be! If they dont have any more respect for themselves than to kill each other as muslims then so be it!
    I have complete faith either Clinton or Obama would reduce this draw down in an intelligent manner!!
    Truth is Bush took terrorism to Iraqi soil with his illegal war!!
    McCain is just a clone of Bush.....more war, more billions going to war that could be better spent elsewhere on the economy, Infrastructure, health care protecting the borders etc
    The Iraqi gov will never step up to the plate and do their part as long as America is over there doing it for them
    Every day noble troops are dying for McCains *Victory* rhetoric
    how many more have to die, how many more have to come home with half a body to bring this misery to an end.

    February 27, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Di

    Go get him McCain....Obama is all talk and no action.

    February 27, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. Kim, GA

    Isn't the life expectancy 70 years. He should be barred from running for office. Honestly what kinda chaos would he create if he was to die on day two in office? What if the stress of the campaign causes him to have a heart attack and die after he becomes the republican front runner. I think he's selfish and that Huckabee would have been a better candidate. It's like a lady having a baby at 65 yrs old. WHY? He also has no real experience and everything he wants to do have been done by Bush. So.... Obama 08

    February 27, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. anon

    Obama is just as unprepared to be Commander in Chief as Bush was.

    He need someone with military and foriegn policy experience; we need John McCain.

    February 27, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. richard

    John McCain is wrong on iraq! I will be voting obama

    ps I am a republican

    February 27, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Rechi

    Obama, stop going back in the past. We all know that Al-Qaida was not there when the United States invaded, but we all also know that now they are there and we are fighting them. So what's the point keep repeating your statement that we all are aware of.

    Obama is too novice, and the sooner we forget about him the better it is for our country. He is going to ruin this country, we think Bush was bad for country, wait if he (I hope not) becomes the president and we will see the worst.

    February 27, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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