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. krissy

    What "allies" is he talking about???

    The vast majority of countries that have troops over there have less than 100...most of them have less than 10 troops!!

    McCain is forgetting the heavy price that all Americans are making for this war that is getting us nowhere. 4 years from the last election, and things have not changed. The surge is not sustainable. McCain needs to realize we need more progress from the Iraqi government. We can't prop them up forever.

    February 27, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. dj

    Senator Obama just bring Hillary with you the next time you want to win the fight with McCain. She can land an intellectual punch better than you can. Since all your ideas were hers to begin with it won't look bad on your record. Plus the media will clean up any rough edges for you. Oh, next time you might want to know what your job entails better than your opponent. She landed a firm body blow to you in your oversight of the war in Afghanistan. Ouch.
    Hang in there Hillary !

    February 27, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Obama is the truth

    Obama is a Chicago politician he's had to deal with the antics of Mayor Daley...if you think John McClain can just talk reckless and won't get a response from Obama your in for a rude awaking...Obama is the last person he should want to face for the election...

    February 27, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  4. brian

    Why is nobody picking up on the fact that Obama's "rebuttal" of McCain isn't a rebuttal at all? Saying that Al-Qaida is only in Iraq because of Bush doesn't change the fact that they're there. If Obama truly believes that we should have troops in Iraq so long as Al-Qaida is there, then he doesn't think the troops should leave. This is a big deal, though I guess we can't expect the media to follow up on it.

    February 27, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. Angelina Julie Lexington Kentucky

    This is so funny.

    Obama says "I'd go to Iraq if Al Qaeda is there".

    McCain is like UM, DUH - "THEY ARE THERE ALREADY"!

    This is the total difference between someone who knows foreign policy and someone who knows nothing! Vote McCain. Obama will make a laughing stock out of this country. He already thinks NAFTA is between us and Europe. HAHAHAHAHAH!

    February 27, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. California Independent

    Obama better knock it off with the blame game on the Iraq war. That rant is getting tiresome. It is living in the past rather than living in the present and focusing on the future.

    come in to the light..... come in to the light.,...

    February 27, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Serge in Miami,FL

    McCain is a patriot and war hero. In defense of him and his character, I know he has the best interests of the United States and our citizens in his heart. However, based on his recent comments about Mr. Obama's stated hypothetical remarks about attacking Al-Qaeda in Iraq makes me question his (McCain's) ability to reason effectively. Obama is going to trounce him, because I think McCain's ability to debate is severely compromised. Our president needs to be sharp and verbally effective, and as much as I admire McCain, I don't think he has what it takes to outshine Obama.

    February 27, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. jfs

    Already McCain is out after the frontrunner. Frankly, I let that one slip by me and I might add Senator Clinton and the Questioners did also. We all know that Al Qaeda is in Iraq..........so does OBAMA, point is that McCain and his people are listening tto these debates that Clinton has demanded. GREAT!!! OBAMA fight back and show McCain that another 100 years in Iraq will not get these jerks.........We NEED to get them in Afganastan where we should have been spending our time..........not Iraq. Obama is correct the vultures showed up MONTHS after our invasion. They always appear where there is an opportunity to destroy mankind.

    February 27, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. Bob, Roxboro, NC

    It looks more and more like McCain will be another GW Bush. His stance on the Iraq war is a mirror image of the current administration's failed policies.

    February 27, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. Willie

    Why is it that Obama is always trying to say that somebody is trying to score cheap political points? How often is Obama going to use this lame line. Also, whats up with this comment from Obama?

    "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,..."

    What kind of man are you Obama? How could you even say such a thing. I HOPE that people CHANGE there minds and vote for Hillary because Obama is not who we need right now.

    February 27, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  11. SecondSage

    None of this will matter if you let King George destroy the constitution.

    February 27, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. Keisha Thompson

    I'm supporting Hillary Clinton. If Obama wins the nomination, I'll vote for McCain. I am a democrat and I am Black. However, I don't think that Obama is ready to be the president. This country has so many problems that need to be addressed and I don't think that Obama is ready. If he had Hillary's experience, then I'd vote for him. But, he's not ready to take on what will probably be the hardest presidency in many years. No amount of touchy feely pep talk is going to change that. We should be voting for the most qualified person and it's just that simple. I've always thought McCain was an okay guy. Yes, he's Republican, but he's an Arizona republican, which is pretty moderate. I'm a pretty moderate democrat and so I don't think we differ that much. Most importantly, the democrats lost the last two elections to a guy that is totally incompetent. I do not want the first Black president to fail. Not to mention, I don't want the next democratic president to fail because if she/he does, then we'll never get the office back because Republicans will go on and on about how it's the democrats fault for all the problems. I'd rather suffer for four more years and get a chance at another qualified candidate.

    February 27, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. Justin

    Senator McCain will chew Obama out and spit him out in the general election. I completely love how Senator McCain depicts Obama's politics of hope when he is CLEARLY taking the cut and run tactic. The old man isn't going senile yet.

    I wonder when Democrats will realize that their only REAL hope at winning the White House is someone who can stand up to McCain in foreign policy and that is Hillary.

    Obama is like a one trick pony: we should've have gone into Iraq; we should've have gone into Iraq; we should've have gone into Iraq.


    WAKE UP DEMOCRATS! Hoping is great, but actions are what matters. All the hoping in the world will not create world peace without actions being done. I mean, I could hope all I want about being rich, but that ain't gonna happen unless you WORK HARD for it. The American Dream is accomplished by working hard and not just dreaming.

    Senator Obama hasn't really been in the Senate long enough to prove himself and in addition to that he hasn't voted since this whole campaign started. Look at how he's NEVER Chaired a Senate SubCommittee. He wants to be the head of the Federal Government? HA!

    Hillary has the experience. She is a proven leader. She should be our next President.

    February 27, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. Paul from Kissimmee

    This all started because Obama said after he withdraws our troop, he would go back to Iraq if Al Qaeda establishes there. McCain just had to let him know THEIR ALREADY THERE STUPID! Obama is simply lost and in way over his head.

    February 27, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. Shocking

    I am tired of democrats saying "I will vote for McCain if Hillary isn't the nominee". Obama and Hillary overlap on majority of their issues. And do you even know McCain's agenda?? Bombing Iran, staying 100 years in Iraq, no knowledge of the economy so a sure recession, wishing leaders of other countries die and I could go on and on – Is that what you want?

    February 27, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. K. Smith Minneapolis,MN

    And I thought only Dick Cheney believed Al Qaeda was in Iraq before 9/11. Revisionist history = SPIN.

    February 27, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    This argument is so old that it's frustrating to even have anymore. If you have any semblance of intelligence you have to see that we've created al Queda in Iraq; it's a monster of our own making. Those who fail to see this, who think we're fighting for "our freedom" or whatever, are either dillusional or ignorant.

    I also can't believe how people like McCain can still use the rhetoric that we're "winning" in Iraq. This is so absurd! What are we winning after we invade a country for oil domination and create the chaotic anarchy that exists there now. I can't believe how stupid so many Americans are about this.

    February 27, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  18. Sarah

    MCAIN can go to the gates of hell, but the American people will not follow blindly as we did with Bush. Can't fool us twice!

    February 27, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  19. Holly, Kansas City, MO

    Oh my gosh, I knew his comments must have been taken out of context. I mean Obama is the only major candidate who was smart enough to know that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq in the first place. So as soon as I heard McCain's comments, it's like... I find it very difficult to believe that the one man who knew Iraq was a mistake would be so uninformed on this issue.

    Sure enough... the GOP machine is at it again. Lame attack, McCain. Everyone will see the light of day on this within a week. Some will choose to ignore it, but those are the folks who listen to Rush Limbaugh. 😉 Thanks for covering Barack's point of view on this CNN!

    February 27, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. Ranger

    LETS FACE IT >>MCCAIN HAS SEEN better days..he needs to
    step down.... as the war hero and allow our government to do its thing!!..which is ...nominating good candidates .. for change!!!.
    We don't need killers in our government..to intimidate the world and the American citizen...!!! How can we grow as a society ..under these false pretenses!!! Bush has falsely killed thousands of our troops and Iraqis.. plus wrecked our economy!! This next President has a large mess to clean up!

    Disgusted US ARMY VET!!!

    and maintain his as the war hero.. before he looses all of his value to our society!!

    February 27, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  21. roger2008

    And this coming from the candidate with the MOST experience!

    "If we left Iraq there's no doubt that al Qaeda would then gain control in Iraq and pose a threat to the United States of America."

    What a stupid thing to say... Iraq is a Shiite country. If the US would leave Iraq, al Qaeda would be wiped out in a very short time. The only reason why Saddam, a Suni, took power was because he was backed by the US. There might be reasons to stay there for a while, but loosing the country to al Qaeda certainly is not one of them.

    February 27, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. Christina

    Hey Charlotte,

    How is Senator Obama accusing Mccain? I read the story and I didn't see anywhere that it said Senator Obama accuse him of a cheapshot. if you're gonna make a point at least make it right

    February 27, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  23. Rgene

    I am a Democrat but I think Obama is a goof ball and has no idea about what it takes to run the country. My husband fought in the war and over the years I have had several family members and friends lost in wars and conflicts so I realize our country has to do what it takes to maintain each and everyone of us living in the USA free to live the American Dream. If Obama wins I will vote for McCain because at least he has the experience and the common sense to know what the country needs to fight terriost.

    February 27, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. Peg from Ohio

    McCain knows who he will be facing in Nov.

    February 27, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. Cindy

    I'm just glad they're focusing on issues, and not silly stuff like middle names and xeroxing.

    February 27, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
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