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. Ronald

    McCain says he doesn't know much about the economy and is going to run on his foreign policy experience. Maybe it is his age, but this is a HUGE faux pas . . . wasn't he the one chiding Obama for comments about Al Qieda being in Iraq? Onset of senior memory loss?

    March 18, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. Nao

    Hmm... this is the same "verbal gaffe" that got us into Iraq instead of going after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.


    March 18, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. Roger, Menlo Park CA

    John McCain is Walt Disney's greatest creation. He almost looks like a real, live person. Almost.

    March 18, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Bill

    You must be kidding me... Obama has a racist, communist, America-hating preacher as a twenty year mentor; Hillary falsely claims she was sniper bait; the newly inaugurated New York Democrat admits to sexual affairs with state employees... and the top headline is McCain confuses "Al Qaeda" with "extremists"??? What's next... a headline about McCain mistaking a "Big Mac" for a "Hamburger"?

    March 18, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. Jean

    No one should give HIllary any credit for having met leaders 12 to 16 years ago. Most of those she met were retired, dead or deposed by now.

    McCain should SURELY know about who supports who in this war. He needs to be debriefed VERY badly. Betcha Barack would know.

    March 18, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. kiki

    What's so bad about a silly mistake. Everybody knows about Iran and Al Queda. On his side Obama made a "mistake" when voting to support child predators. Obama pressed the wrong button by mistake, he says!!

    March 18, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Rose

    I think the Dems have more problems than nitpicking at McCain, they should look at what is going on with their whole party, it is headed for a train wreck if they don't get their act together.

    March 18, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. Frank

    You know what? We all make mistakes. But the biggest would be to pull are troops out to early. If we just pull the troops out without listening to are military advisers like Mrs. Clinton said she would. We will wish for $110.00 a barrel oil. If we give up and say we quit you win, it will be a bigger mistake then going into Iraq in the first place. Remember people this country did not ask for our help to oust Saddam, we went in a sovereign nation under false information and took out this countries inferstucture. Now the Dems (who most voted to go into Iraq) want to just up and leave. We need to finish this job to make sure this part of the world remains somewhat stable.

    March 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  9. Paul from Kissimmee

    Is that all they can come up with? This is why I shouldn't vote for McCain? I should vote for Obama and please the terrorists? I should vote for Clinton so we can surrender? Give me a break. At least he has guts. Something liberals have been lacking.

    March 18, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  10. Obama

    Madam President

    March 18, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. rexx

    Its funny how desperate this makes the dems look. Oh boy McCain got the name of the group of terrorists that Iran supports wrong lol. Oh but Obama is going to sit down with them and have Milk and Cookies and ask them to "play nice". Oh yeah that will work lol

    March 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. Tim

    John McCain should really stay over there and keep an eye on them.
    He obviously thinks what goes on over in the Middle East is much more important than the problems that abound in our own country.
    Just stay over there John and send us some reports every once in a while. And, hey, grow a beard and you'll fit right in.

    March 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. richard

    As a former republican and a veteran I think its a disgrace for John McCain to be visiting the troops. His policy towards Iraq is disgusting.

    March 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. Danny

    Verbal gaffe or not McCaine should be more careful what says. After all, he is gonna be our next President of this blessed great nation of ours. But of course, at least he's not a member of a America Haters Trinity Community Church.

    March 18, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. Steve Rochester, NY

    This 'momentary verbal gaffe' demonstrates a severe lack of understanding of what's happening in Iraq. Pity it also happened twice. Wouldn't one of his advisors correct him the first time? Had he forgotten? I don't even want to think about a presidential nominee with a failing memory.

    March 18, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  16. Keith in San Diego

    Of course Iran is supplying al Qaeda...with yellowcake uranium from Niger to build WMDs. Deja vu, all over again.

    March 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. rob

    Here we go with the Dem attack machine. Mcain understands that regardless who gets the weapons, Iran has helped to kill many americans in Iraq by supplying them. The Dems won't talk about this because they don't want to offend The Iranians . Remember the world has to like us again just like in the 90's when there were no terrorists, no wars and no attacts against us.

    March 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. rw in ct

    This pales next to the problems the democrats have.

    March 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  19. soberone

    If he screws up on this the sky is the limit if he wins in nov. with misstooks

    March 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  20. Gideon

    If you read the entire article, you'd see this wasn't a "momentary verbal gaffe", since McCain had stated the same mistaken information the prior day.
    This isn't a gaffe, it's frightening.

    March 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. BABucher, NYC

    No, actually, dems today have been discussing race and poverty in the US. This was just a nice little chuckle for us.

    March 18, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. Angela

    We do not need another bumbling war monger in the White House.
    Go Dems.

    March 18, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. Brian

    Listen he is white and male therefore more qualified to be president.

    GOP '08 taking back both houses.

    March 18, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  24. Nikole

    Give him a break. This is what happens in old age.

    March 18, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  25. Kevin B of Ohio

    It was an honest mistake, they happen all the time

    March 18, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
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