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

Dems seize on McCain's Iran gaffe

[cnn-photo-caption image= 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. The Perpetual Student

    Hmmmmm A presidential candidate who makes verbal gaffes!!! Sounds familiar!!!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  2. G in CT

    McCain is at least tending to the business of America, and making a presence in Iraq, the biggest bone of contention in our Country.
    I give him cudos for having the presence of mind to work a little, while also campaigning. Takes guts and energy, to be him.
    In America we are reading about candidates and their misteps, sex scandals and power struggles to stay popular, while
    McCain is supporting America and representing America in our time of crisis in Iraq.
    He truly loves our country and shows it, and we know he's not going to run from problems.

    March 18, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  3. Sean, Detroit MI

    Of course he's going to get confused from time to time. The man *is* ancient for gods sakes! I doubt if I'll have full mental facilities when I'm in my 70's either. So, if he gets a bit fuddled and mixed up and he forgets to put his pants on before leaving the house or wakes up at 8 pm thinking it's 8 a.m. or he forgets the names of family members once in a while, it all comes with being old. We should all hope to live so long.

    March 18, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. Neal

    How can anyone believe this man is about change? McCain is pushing Bushes economic and foreign policies.

    Obama or Hillary '08

    March 18, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Brons

    Could it be early dementia or just too many years in the republican party absorbing false/incorrect "intel".

    March 18, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. kelly WI

    Semantics. Grow up.
    King of Jordan doesn't want us to leave too soon. You think its bad now, just wait and see what would happen to the middle east if we did.

    March 18, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Kate Smith

    He's trying to make himself look presidential! It's pathetic, he's looking more and more like Bush!

    March 18, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. bimmer

    he Republicans should be jumping all over Obama for being a fake, a perennial lair.

    March 18, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  9. Bobt, NY



    March 18, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  10. Tim T.

    Iran, Iraq ...same difference to the Repubs. Just bomb 'em both. That's their strategy. But why aren't they and W up there getting ready to invade, occupy and liberate Tibet and Myanmar/Burma? Spread freedom there too, no? Vote McCain and you'll get at least four more years of incompetence and growing worldwide resentment and disgust of the US.

    March 18, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  11. kevin

    Obama is no longer relevant after his minster's comments and Obama's denials. He can no longer be the VP.

    March 18, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  12. John Paiva

    Will some reporter out there please refer to the 9 – 11 Commission Report that clearly states in numerous places that Iran has harbored and sponsered Al Qaeda for DECADES. Where do two of bin Ladens sons live? Where are over 100 Al Qaeda leaders currently residing? Look it up. I am no McCain fan but check it out, please.

    John Paiva

    March 18, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. Mike Allen

    Why is anyone surprised by this. Four years of McCain is equal to twelve years of Bush. More mismanaged War and Economy. Please, as the Doors sang, Break on through to the other side, O8ama.

    March 18, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. pminsc

    How any rational, thinking adult could even consider voting for McBush or any other R is beyond me. With 7+ years of Jr. playing games with every aspect of our daily lives......we simply must put a stop to this and place a Democrat in the White House in Jan. '09! Gas, groceries, clothes...every aspect of our lives....the ongoing war...the deaths, the injured.....I blame it all on George W. and his loyal followers, one of which is certainly McBush!

    March 18, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. Grif

    Don't build on it, and don't ignore the Iran situation...

    Only thing I can see. To answer this question

    March 18, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. ALB

    Yes, McCain made a mistake. Never as bad as the Obama lies about his pastor or Rezko apparently dirty deals.. Obama is a lier, McCain made a mistake.

    March 18, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. Jack

    MaCain misspoke. When Obama and Clinton says something wrong their supporters say its "ok". Just as in Obama speach today in Philly, when he realizes what he said, he will try to use the "misspoke" or statement take out of context excuse . Forget the Dems!

    March 18, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  18. Axel

    We can't win with nothing but losers running. We need better choices!

    March 18, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. joanna

    Nom Deplume,

    And he probably would have been the best choice.

    March 18, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. Seattle Sue Seattle, Wa.

    McCain is delusional, at his age he might say anything.

    March 18, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  21. The truth will set you free!

    Yes, because of McCain's gaffe, I'll now vote for the racist and America hater Barack Hussein Obama and/or racist "blame America first" Billary.

    March 18, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. Bubba

    Experience? Her world-wide trips were with Chelsea and they were shopping ! She hasn't done squat in foreign relations and she hasn't done squat domestically ! Experience ! ! ! ? ? ? Laughable...

    March 18, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  23. bridgette

    He is going to invade Iran. You think we have a mess wait until he gets in office. This man is a war monger and I think he will be a worst president than Bush.

    March 18, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  24. Indiana Bob

    McCain has my vote if Obama is the democratic nominee. It was bad enough that the Hillary campaign was accused of being racist for daring to be critical of Obama. Now he is using the slavery card. I've had enough. As a white male, I have never been racist. But now I see what racism is. And it is blacks who are being racist, not whites. But they call it "black pride". We have had "white pride" groups too and they have been properly labeled as racist. "Black pride" is just as racist. After this primary, I might have to give the "white pride" groups a second look. Maybe I better join.

    March 18, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  25. TimY

    The Dems must be desperate to jump on verbal "gaffes". This story evokes a yawn. The Jeremiah Wright – Barack Obama connection is juicier in my opinion.

    March 18, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
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