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. Ann

    No matter if you are for or against McCain, he is over in Iraq representing us. I'm wondering if Obama's vote after 9/11 was good judgment or following Rev. Wright's philosophy as he talked abut 9/11? Is that the real reason he voted against the Iraq War?
    Ann
    Clearwater, Fl.

    March 18, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  2. FrankSmith

    The Middle East respects women so much that they will spread the RED CARPET for Hillary to walk on!! Welcome to our "narrow-mindeness" in this nation. We really believe the world started and will end with us!!

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

    What I find funniest about this story is that it took Lieberman – a Democrat (in name, I know) – to correct McCain.

    "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.”

    Really, John? Who was it that confused a Sunni-backed terrorist organization with a Shi'ite-majority regional power?

    Next, McCain will say that Madrid is training the ETA.

    March 18, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  4. Brendose, Oceaside CA

    alzheimers seems to be kicking in already!!!! LOL! McCain, quit trying to pick a fight with IRAN! We can't even handle IRAQ!!! Didn't Bush teach you anything? Conquer 1 country at a time!

    Joe Lieberman has truly gone to the dark side.......who put him on a thirst for blood??

    I sure hope Obama and Clinton don't break each other down so much that the Democratic Party implodes.......we need them!!

    March 18, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. ~ Jan, NJ

    This should make every American citizen wake up! The fact that once again, a political figure is trying to frighten the American people with scare tactics. Who's after the US next? The Boogie Man?! If you create enough paranoia among the people, we'll be able to keep McCain's dream of a 100 yr. war alive! It'll just be one country after the other. And THEN, we'll be so far in debt that the "other" countries will all OWN the United States!
    Wake up, everyone! We don't need any more Republican's in office!

    March 18, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  6. Martin Bormann

    Old politician is confused.

    March 18, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Jared, Atlanta, Georgia

    Actually, Iran training Al Qaeda HAS been widely reported in the news. He meant to say extremists, but his original statement was accurate too. Look at the 9-11 Commission Report, page 61 or The New York Sun 11/14/06, or USA Today 4/11/07, The Guardian 5/22/07, and on and on. Sheesh! Could someone please at least PRETEND they aren't just looking for any little thing to crucify McCain over?

    March 18, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  8. ZedLoch

    "Iraq has sent bombmaking and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad." –GW Bush, Feb 2003 Radio Address

    Anyone else see a pattern developing here?

    March 18, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. Twista

    Hey Nom Deplume,
    This was more than a momentary verbal gaffe. Read the article. McCain clearly showed a lack of knowledge repeatedly in the speech and previously in an interview.

    March 18, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  10. not Dan

    hmmm... filp flops... I think we would have been better off with Romney's flip flops than with this guy.

    You know, I don't think I am comfortable with anyone being my president. The problem with the American political system is we learn too much bad about everybody running.

    Seems like there must be a major character flaw in anyone that would welcome such a critical microscope put on their life and every word uttered. Who wants that? We should recruit someone to be our president. Someone who doesn't want the job.

    March 18, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  11. Vaughan

    Funny as a democrat I'd rather follow McCain than ..."when I am President" Clinton or "Slavery Boo Hoo" Obama.

    Wow how many media slip ups do all politicians make. Lets see how well some of you do when lacking sleep and halfway around the world at 72.

    My god are the american people so blind. I guess 6 years in the Paratroops with 2 years in the sandbox WERE FOR NOTHING. Fredrick the Great was right when he told Voltaire "the enlightnement was ment for a select few".

    Well as a democrat for McCain .... I am ashamed of my countrymen.

    March 18, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. Tracy

    Seems par for the course in regards to Republicans who want to be President.
    Knowing nothing about foriegn affairs seems to be what they think is the mark of a good leader.

    See where that got us? Ya, as far as McSame thinks..It got us into a hundred year war. I hope you didn't like being able to afford to drive your cars.

    March 18, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  13. clarity

    Oh, the McCain Drain....
    It's the last thing America needs.

    March 18, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  14. Kevin

    It doesn't matter who the enemy is...if they're bad and muslim we're gonna get 'em!

    March 18, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. A Non Ymous

    consider the possibility that mccain, in his older age, may be just a bit "touched", in his advanced age, from his unfortunate years as a POW........or he is just factually impaired.

    March 18, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  16. benji

    The republicans are fools.

    March 18, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  17. Richard Friedman

    McCain's repeated gaffes tell me he is too old to be president.

    March 18, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  18. Oliver

    I agree. We must steamroll Iran. McCain may have misspoke, but we know the real deal. Stomp on the enemy!

    March 18, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  19. Bob Stephens

    BUSH- MCCAIN, MORE OF THE SAME....

    March 18, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  20. Julie

    The article says ,"Iran is predominately a Shiite country and is not aiding the Sunni dominated Al-Qaeda." Um, isn't a non-biased news report supposed to cite sources for information like that? According to the 9-11 report and, yes, media coverage as well, Iran has been and may still be training Al Qaeda. Using the term "extremists" is better though, since that would include Hezbollah or anyone else Iran is training too.

    March 18, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  21. BJ from Illinois

    I believe that Obama is the best candidate for the Democratic party and the best candidate for the highest office in this country.

    March 18, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  22. Whoa...

    MCinsane... you know you're in trouble when Lieberman is your voice of reason.

    March 18, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  23. Donna

    I'm an Obama supporter and I think you should leave John McCain alone. He MISSPOKE, end of story.

    Obama 08

    March 18, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. Miguel G

    I hate it when people take something that was clearly a "I mis-spoke" situation and turn it into something big.

    "I was for it before I was against it."

    "I've haven't been proud of my country..."

    etc.

    They're verbal mistakes. Let's get past it, folks. I'm not a McCain supporter, but this is stupid.

    March 18, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. pj

    he's old, give him a break...

    March 18, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
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