March 19th, 2008
10:19 AM ET
10 years ago

Dems seize on McCain's Iran gaffe

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/18/art.mccainjordan.ap.jpg caption=" McCain misspoke during a press conference in Jordan Tuesday."]
(CNN) - The Democratic National Committee seized on John McCain's apparent gaffe while discussing Iran Tuesday, saying it raises questions whether the Arizona senator "can be trusted to offer a clear way forward."

The misstep in question occurred during a news conference in Jordan earlier Tuesday, when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee repeatedly said Iran was supplying al Qaeda. Iran is predominately a Shiite country and is not aiding the Sunni dominated Al-Qaeda.

McCain ultimately corrected himself after Sen. Joe Lieberman whispered in his ear.

"I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al Qaeda. I am sorry," the Arizona senator said.

DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney quickly pounced on the misstep.

"After eight years of the Bush Administration's incompetence in Iraq, McCain's comments don't give the American people a reason to believe that he can be trusted to offer a clear way forward," she said. "Not only is Senator McCain wrong on Iraq once again, but he showed he either doesn't understand the challenges facing Iraq and the region or is willing to ignore the facts on the ground."

McCain's campaign immediately responded, saying the "Democrats have launched political attacks today because they know the American people have deep concerns about their candidates’ judgment and readiness to lead as commander in chief.”

The DNC later sent out a transcript of McCain's interview Monday with conservative Hugh Hewitt, during which he appeared to make the same mistake.

"As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they’re moving back into Iraq," he told Hewitt.

Related: McCain warns of increasing Iranian influence

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (727 Responses)
  1. Imran, Lawrence, USA

    People are stupid and so are the Democrats who are making a big fuss over this apparent "gaffe".

    A lie repeated over and over and over again becomes the truth for most Americans too stupid and too lazy to ask searching questions.

    We saw it in 2002 and 2003 in the lead up to the Iraq invasion.

    And while Hillary and Obama debate race, McCain gets photo-op sessions in Iraq that he can then use to solidify his "security" credentials.

    BTW has Joe Lieberman joined the Republican Party?

    March 18, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Apparently McCain's position is as a war- and fear-mongering paranoiac–the details of precisely on whom we are to wage war and who to fear are details of little importance.

    I honestly think the man sincerely believes that the U.S. has something to fear from the small, fanatical, percentage of the followers of Islam that seem to blame the U.S for everything from bad hair days to major natural catastrophes–either he knows something the rest of us don't, or he thinks he knows something. In the former case, he'd help himself immeasurably by sharing his factual information with the rest of us so we could form our own opinions; in the latter case he should shut up about it and let his image as an Islamophobe-on-general-principles image fade.

    March 18, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. Rich

    LOL...all of these anti-McCain comments from people who support a guy who said "if Al Qaeda tries to organize in Iraq" and a woman who counts having dinner in foreign countries while first lady as foreign policy experience. Too funny.

    March 18, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. Jon

    No one is perfect.....

    Then there are Clinton's exaggerated foreign policy claims.

    Clinton claims to have "negotiated open borders" in Macedonia to fleeing Kosovar refugees. But the Macedonian border opened a full day before she arrived, and her meetings with Macedonian officials were too brief to allow for much serious negotiating.

    Clinton's activities "helped bring peace to Northern Ireland." Irish officials are divided as to how helpful Clinton's actions were, and key players agree that she was not directly involved in any actual negotiations.

    Clinton has repeatedly referenced her "dangerous" trip to Bosnia. She fails to mention, however, that the Bosnian war had officially ended three months before her visit – or that she made the trip with her 16-year-old daughter and two entertainers.

    Both Bill and Hillary Clinton claim that Hillary privately championed the use of U.S. troops to stop the genocide in Rwanda. That conversation left no public record, however, as U.S. policy was explicitly to stay out of Rwanda, and officials say that the use of U.S. troops was never considered.

    Clinton's tough speech on human rights delivered to a Beijing audience is as advertised, though Clinton herself has been dismissive of speeches that aren't backed by solutions.

    March 18, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. McClueless

    It's not the fact that he made a mistake, it's the fact that he doesn't understand the dynamics of the Middle East. First off, he continues to hold true with his idea that the "surge" has been "successful." I don't know how you can measure the success of a war that has been going on for 5 years with very minimal results. Second, McCain (and many Americans) don't understand the situation between Iran and that Arab world. Most people cluster these two groups together, while they are SO different. Iranians would never support Al-Qaeda, seeing as Iran is a Shiite Muslim nation, while Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim organization. These two sects of this religion have been at odds forever, and nothing is going to change now. Everyone needs to do a little homework on the REAL situation in Iran, before they begin accusing them of harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists.

    March 18, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. Phil of Colorado

    It degrades that whole process when such a minor misstatement is distorted by the other party. This is more indicative of the Clinton machine than O'Bama.

    March 18, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. kevin

    ..someone needs to take McCain back to Iran for proper training!

    March 18, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  8. Jason

    Sorry, Norm, but it wasn't a "momentary verbal gaffe".

    He's been repeating the same thing all week. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

    March 18, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. JAMES IN BAMA

    I THINK THIS ALONG WITH ALL OF THE MISGIVINGS ABOUT OBAMA AND WHO HE REALLY IS LEAVES US ONE REAL OPTION FOR PRESIDENT. MCCAIN ISNT INFORMED ENOUGH AND IT SHOWS HE IS WAY TO SET IN HIS WAYS AND THEY ARE JUST TO COMPARABLE TO BUSHES VIEWS. AND ALONG WITH NOT KNOWING ENOUGH ABOUT OBAMA WHAT WE HAVE SEEN COME OUT OVER THE LAST WEEK ALONG WITH HIS WIFES VIEWS AND NAFTA AND HIS DEALING WITH CRIMINALS IT IS APPARENT THAT WHAT WE DO KNOW AND ARE FINDING OUT SCARES THE HECK OUT OF ALOT OF AMERICA AND THE NUMBERS SHOW NEITHER OF THEM ARE THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO TAKE.

    March 18, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  10. Manfred

    Why is Sen. Lieberman always lurking behind or next to McCain? Is there some connection we're missing here?

    March 18, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. sam lowry

    You could give him a "100 years" and he still wouldn't get the facts right.

    March 18, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. swede_mariner

    Johnno,

    So funny, right on!

    March 18, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. Megan

    This is beyond a verbal gaffe! He doesn't get the sunni v. shiite factions which is the whole reason this war is never ending. We stuck ourselves in the middle of a religious conflict. McCain doesn't get the religions involved, he can't get us out (does anyone even try to say we can "win" anymore? What would that result look like?).

    Also, Hillary traveling the world as first lady means squat. You may have noticed most Middle Eastern countries aren't woman friendly so I don't see how she'll have much of an impact improving relations in this volatile region. Oh wait, maybe Bill can take care of it. Nice.

    March 18, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  14. William

    can you imagine Barak Obama making such a doddering error? I don't think so.

    If Palestinians and Israelis have been spilling each other's blood every month of every year since 1948 - [remember Munich– the six day war - and every day of every month for as long as we can remember] - we can expect that shiite and sunni blood will be being spilled in Iraq - along with American blood as long as we are there.

    don't give us 50 years - or 100 years - of this tragedy. 4,000 boys and girls are enough to have lost. we didn't REALLY break it - and we really can't fix it.

    March 18, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. ROGER

    That's how McCain would answer the Red Phone at 2:00 AM. Here is the step by step guide:
    1. First of all, he would look for his dentures.
    2. Orient his mind & memory (Severe memory loss due to old age)
    3. Wait for someone to whisper in his ear to give him the guidance.

    Why people are retired after certain age? Mr. McCain, please go away & start collecting social security benefits.

    March 18, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. Tim from Eugene OR.

    That is scarry. Just like lil Bush he dosn't seem well informed. It would be funny if American lives were not at stake. I think I would have maybe voted for him back in 2000 if he hadn't been bushwhacked. Since then he has given new meaning to the phrase "flip flop" He was right to say we shouldn't have had those big tax cuts during a time of war, now he thinks they are ok. Torture and he certainly knows about that issue, was wrong, but now its ok. Our people are hurting financially and we are spending 3 billion a week on a people that just won't take advantage of the opportunity we have given them. But why should they when we have a man like McCain sending them the message that we might be there up to 100years. We need to start taking care of our own. McCain dosn't get that.

    March 18, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  17. Sam

    I am a Democrat through and through, but this is silly. People sometimes make mistakes when they talk.

    March 18, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. rar

    You can call it whatever you want......gaffe, misspoke, or something else but the fact is we have suffered through 8 years of foreign policy gaffes and misstatements. Words matter........

    March 18, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  19. FrankSmith

    Obama should denounce his "hate-filled" minister and embrace and love his "hate-filled" white grand-mother. It is the only way to resolve this race issue. Even better, the nomination should be given to Hillary because it is the turn for another Clinton to be back in the White House; she deserves it!! God Bless American. This will make us all "happy" and wealthy again in America.

    March 18, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. Mauricio Galvao Anderson

    this Lieberman guy is a shame for all americans, dems and reps. He has already ruined one candidacy, now wants a piece justo for himself... Shame on him and on all who voted for him.

    March 18, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  21. Willy

    Clinton + Obama = socialist. McCain= America.

    March 18, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. Chris-Seattle

    Barrack isn't racist you idiot!

    March 18, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  23. Shelia Brown

    It's has been documented in the Bible that " a country that is unrighteous, ( in whatever area of life) will be cursed by God,this is nothing new if one know's the Bible. Therefore Rev. Wright has said no more than God's word.

    March 18, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  24. leroy

    This is such a non-story...and it is on your homepage...amazing.

    March 18, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  25. Tom

    Where's Ron Paul when we need him?... Oh, I remember, this is the guy you voted for instead of Ron Paul. Well, you get what you got.

    March 18, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
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