February 28th, 2008
11:56 AM ET
8 years ago

McCain continues Iraq back and forth with Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/02/28/art.mccain.ap.jpg caption=" McCain is campaigning in Texas Thursday."](CNN) - John McCain Thursday continued his attacks on Barack Obama over the issue of Iraq, saying the Illinois senator isn't focused on how victory can be achieved there.

"Yesterday Senator Obama said, 'Well we shouldn't have gone in in the first place. If we hadn't gone in the first place we wouldn’t be facing this problem.' " McCain said at a town hall event in Houston, Texas. "Well that's history. That's the past. That's talking about what happened before. What we should be talking about is what we're going to do now."

McCain's comments follow a back-and-forth between the two candidates on Wednesday over Obama's remarks at a recent debate regarding what he would do if al Qaeda establishes a presence in Iraq after American troops left.

"I always reserve the right for the president ... to make sure that we are looking out for American interests," Obama said during Tuesday's debate. "And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."

McCain criticized Obama for the remarks, saying "It's a remarkable statement to say that you would send troops back to a place where al Qaeda has established a base - where they have already established a base."

Obama quickly hit back, declaring, "There was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq."

- CNN's Carol Cratty and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. John Smith

    I too will vote for McCain if Obama gets the nomination. Writing in Hillary negates the vote and can still give Obama the election so that is not an option. We cannot stand on principle any longer. We Hillary supporters must unite and stop this guy despite how the Democratic party will force Hillary to priase Obama at the convention. This is no longer in Hillary's hands. It is in our hands and we need to vote for McCain. I suspect at least 30% of Hillary supporters will cross party lines Nov 4th and give McCain the election. There is no way in hell Obama can win with that crossover. This will be our way of sticking it to the media the way they stuck it our girl!
    This backlash can change the way the media shows bias for one candididate and return the country to objective news reporting

    February 28, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    Because of the poor judgement of McCain/Bush they have the blood of hundredes of thousands of lives on their hands, and they are depleting our Treasury at an unsustainable rate. Didn't we learn in Vietnam that policing a civil war was a lose/lose proposition?

    The Republicans are as old and tired as their bankrupt ideas!

    It's time for a new course for America.

    Vote Democratic in November!

    February 28, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Melinda Cedillo

    I have the utmost respect for our troops and I support our troops. I do believe they should NOT be in Iraq and they should all come home. Sen. John McCain should go fight the war in Iraq if he is so concerned about the outcome. Sen. John McCain should spend 18 months in Iraq, in constant danger, without his family, just like he is wanting our sons, daughters, fathers, brothers and sisters to do, fighting an endless battle that is not our (the United States's battle) to begin with.

    February 28, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Bruce Wayne

    You're grasping at straws McCain if you have to attack a hypothetical on "what if" based on a "what if" we wup Al Queda and they somehow return. Maybe you should examine the premise of the question posed before spouting off on empty rhetoric.

    February 28, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. joli

    Yeah Obama was dodging McCain's point and its was a brilliant point.
    AQ is there today...Obama wants to leave knowing that... yet reserves the option of reinvading... ie leaves the option open for repeating past action he himself deplores. Maybe instead he should rethink his stance on leaving... why not just stay and get it done and then you can be on your merry way.

    February 28, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. Charlotte

    There weren't any Al Qaeda in Iraq until the war because, Saddam, can we say Hussien, ruled with an Iron Fist. We are there now, and so are they, we cannot leave and hope the Iraqie people take care of them on their own. Obama will go back if they show up? That is the most stupid comment a candidate could make.

    February 28, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. Venus

    Obama is right about al Qaeda in Iraq – Bush wanted to invade Iraq long before 911. Bush father didn't do a good job regarding Iraq. McCain is not some one for Obama to be afraid of – McCain is a loser. He is a POW of another war- the USA should not have been in and lost – so that's 2-wars McCain has been in – and has not won. As a matter of fact – didn't Bush delcare a victory – years ago about the war in Iraq? How can a so called country with all the high-tech weapons still be fighting a war with people without any real weapons is truly sad. Can you imagine if the USA was fighting a country that could match our weapons?

    February 28, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. Alfie

    The past is prologue.

    February 28, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. NickNas

    McCain HAS to harp on this. I am SURE he would rather not because of the way this country feels about this war and all of its unkept promise'. I am sure we will hear it ALL during the General. WMDs, Iraqi oil promised to pay for the bill there, Billions (with a B) dollars in CASH that just went POOF. it goes on forever. Who would want to defend that? Obama is looking great against this Bush 2.0 candidate. I personally feel the handlers of GWB are simply going to pull their hand out of the back of the Bush doll and slip it in the Back of the McCain doll and it will be business as usual. I only wish I could draw ...that would be a great political cartoon.

    February 28, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. Steve

    Go get him McCain....Obama likes to talk about the future but keeps harping on the fact he did not believe in the war....the fact of the matter is that he didnt vote one way or another because he WASN'T a senator at the time.

    He says we have to change washington, look to the future but all he does is keep restating how he was against the war.....Senator Obama we know you were against the war....now what? Lets deal with the future INTELLIGENTLY based on where we are today.

    Notice how Obama is NOW (within the last two months) saying he would meet with joint chiefs of staff and sect of defense.....he ONLY says that now but Hillary has been saying that from the beginning.

    Out of the three potential candidates....HIS LACK OF EXPERIENCE SHOWS....America does NOT need someone to "parrot" another candidate's ideas......at least have an original idea Senator Obama

    February 28, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Maryland voter.

    McCain is so stupid and so is George Bush. He can't get out of the White House fast enough. War is not the answer. We cannot afford another 100 years of war. Jobs are down. Food is higher. Gas is higher. Oil is higher. The rich are declaring war on the poor. It has to change for all people in this country.

    February 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Tiffany

    Duh! This current adminstration has created so many problems for us I can't believe it. If the man was a prisoner of war – tell me, how is it possible that he would want to see the same horrible things that he experienced continued under his watch?

    February 28, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. politicallyincorrect

    George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq?? I thought the whole Congress approved that one after lengthy consideration of all the evidence.

    Nothing like misinformation tactics, hey Obama....

    February 28, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. kevin from alaska

    Past vs. future. Save it, McCain. Iran is in your future and that's scary.

    February 28, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. Mike

    Obama must think he has won the nomination... to all ready start debating with McCain!!!

    February 28, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. politics politics....

    bush lead us to a war !!! mc cain wants us to remain at war, and most probably drive us into another one with iran... enough is enough i want to raise my kids in peace !

    February 28, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  17. Priscilla

    John McCain is weak! Barak Obama has a ton of experience, McCain just fails to look at it! Could it be jealousy???

    February 28, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. seyi

    McCain, you started what you cant finish... Now you are diverting it. Are you saying it was bad decision and its time to m ove on. Thats all I see from this weak response grandpa!

    February 28, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Will-South Dakota

    McCain was dupped along with the rest of America, why doesn't he just admit Bush/Cheney pulled a fast one and he fell for it. His comments carry no serious weight with the American Public sentiments on this war, too many dead, to many wounded, too much money being wasted and no adequate protection for the soldiers.

    I'd like to see McCain walk down the streets of Bagdad now, no armour on, no soliders and sharpshooters on the roofs and walk about freely this time without a General by his side, walk the talk McCain.

    February 28, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Bob

    Who is Obama even pandering to? I do agree with McCain that what we should be talking about is what to do now, and that is leaving. We're going to leave either way, the only difference is whether the Democrats are in power (in which case it's surrender) or the Republicans are (and then it's victory).

    February 28, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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