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. jp/michigan

    The only thing Obama has going for himself is that one time he voiced against the war . Old news! But, he has supported democrats that voted for the war. In fact told NYT reporter, He didn't know how he would have vote if he was in the Senate at the time of the vote. Since in the Senate he voted right along side Clinton regarding the War. GOOD JUDGEMENT OR CALCALATING POLITICIAN

    February 28, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Independent-Latina-voter, Salt Lake City, UT

    Of course McCain continues. Its politics as usual with him. Wait and see what the conservative 527's will do with Sen. Obama's name! Its going to be one of the most viscous and brutal campaigns ever. A sad day. Its this very thing that turns so many people off, causes our youth to not want to vote.

    My hope and prayer is that our youth will vote, in huge numbers. That my children's generation finally takes its place and makes history by voting for Sen. Obama, who offers a new vision of hope and unity!

    OBAMA 08!

    February 28, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Chris-Seattle

    Yeah I ran into your car with no insurance, but that's the past! What are we going to do now? Not vote for you d- a–!!!

    February 28, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Puddytat

    I still can't make sense of how "JUAN McCain" can expect anybody to take his position seriously while he turns his back on the CONSTITUTIONAL solution to the MEXICAN INVASION !

    February 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. RightyTighty

    Retreat IS Obama's idea of a victory walk. Two of them should be twice the fun.

    February 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. California 4 Hillary

    McCain is right. Obama doesn't have Hillary to give him the answers so he's falling back on the old rhetoric. He needs speech writers and teleprompters to shine. Every other word ourt of his mouth in the debates was 'uh'.

    February 28, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. sigh

    Of course we don;t want to talk about how we got into this mess in the first place. It could reflect badly on McCain and might actually awaken the people and Congress so that if he is elected, then they won't tolerate his promised gift of more wars. Invading Iran comes to mind.

    February 28, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Lloyd Hansen

    Obama can't spin this argument to make himself look good. McCain is right and Obama is wrong. It's that simple.

    February 28, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Alpha_Male


    The straight talker served up his "best" slow-fast ball and Obama sent it somewhere over our horizon...Today McCain "fighting words" sounds like his tail been push deep inside of his chest and reality has set in about pulling our troops out of Iraq w/o waving a white flag, but during the "right thing" for humanity.

    Welcome home President Obama!

    February 28, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Cali guy

    Again, Obummer resorts to the rethoric that he's been using since he started his campaign. When Obummer tried to talk about some future event even though hypothetical, his answer showed he really has no answers for the problems that could well face him. Blaming Bush for going in there if he were POTUS under the circumstances described in the last debate isn't going to do much to handle a future event in Iraq. Obummer doesn't seem to be a multi-tasker, that's apparent by his reason for not living up to his obligation of head of the subcommittee to Europe.

    February 28, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Dave C - N.J.

    I support Obama but this one issue is tough.
    If there is Al Qaeda there now, and Obama has agreed that they are in fact there, what is the plan to deal with them there in conjunction with a withdrawal?

    February 28, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Darth Vadik, CA

    If McCain thinks he will win this debate with Obama he is making a "end of campaign" debate.

    Obama will not back down out of this debate like the shamefull DLC.

    He is going to trounce McCain not only on this one issue, but on everything.

    February 28, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. aware

    Barack has the bucks and a cool feminine brand but he avoids any substantive discussion of the issues. He prefers smart aleck one liners. He does not have the ability to get the job done.

    Will Texas and Ohio fall for the "American idol" or will they vote for the candidate who can do the job?

    Keep it up Senator McCain!

    Hillary 08 or McCain 08 🙂

    February 28, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Jed in Texas

    He reminds me of an ugly dog I once owned that kept chewing on the cyclone fence till his teeth fell out.He should retire.

    February 28, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Darth Vadik, CA

    oh yeah,

    I heard McCain say Obama represents the past,


    February 28, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. ProudVet

    Mc C please shut up and stop this ex-POW and war hero B.S. Is the economy as good as Iraq is? gw says that we are not going into a recession, we are already THERE!
    What have you done for your fellow VETERANS? ZERO that´s the answer and don´t deny it.

    You put us into this messy war, do you have a plan to get us out of it?
    Sure, your 100 years comment is not going well with the american public and where are you going to get the money?


    February 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. RPF

    Mr. McCain stated "Well that's history. That's the past. That's talking about what happened before." Thank you for clarifying what history is.

    February 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. I denounce and reject the polls

    Go Away, Bush #3!

    Who needs your kind of wishy washy leadership? What are you anyway, a conservative, moderate, or liberal? Do you even know? So what you are a decorated vet, it doesn't mean you are the right leader for this great nation, 'cause you want more of the same and Americans resoundingly want CHANGE! You have many faces, Sir, and I don't like any of them...

    February 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Adam

    Obama can play "I told you so" all he wants but the fact is, we ARE there now and his lack of experience on this and other foreign policy issues leads me to Vote for someone with more experience.

    HILLARY 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Nao

    So basically... McCain's comeback boils down to, "Yeah, well... oops."

    February 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Ben

    McCain stole Louisiana's delegates and refuses to debate. Vote Huckabee.

    February 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Ron

    What does John McCain define as victory in Iraq? I have always heard victory, but no one ever says what is the measure of victory. It is always nice to have victory, but just was it and how do we measure it? If you can answer the first question, is there a period of time over which victory is sustainable? All so, what is the cost of that victory and will it cause more problems down the line.

    February 28, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. broadstreet buddy

    John McCain is a decorated war hero, but he does not have a leg to stand on with this issue. Most of the American people want out of Iraq yet he keeps on coming out with new and different and nonsensical reasons everyday of why we should stay over there. Obama is sticking to the facts and the reality of the Iraq civil war that McCain helped create by voting for the war.

    February 28, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Stacy Clarks, Texas

    For someone who "so much experience," McCain has created an even BIGGER problem for us in Iraq. Now we have be concerned about Al Qaeda in Iraq AND in other places

    I don't know baout oyu, but I want a president that will make sure we do not go to wars that creates a BIGGER problem for the US!!!

    stop the hate, obama 08!!!!!

    February 28, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. russell

    Mr. Obama is right on track when he commented on Iraq , our country
    wouldn't be in this predicament if George Bush and John Mcain hadn't lied to the American people about going there in the first place .

    February 28, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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