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. clark

    IM VOTING for obama but if hillary is running against mccain i will vote for hillary! mccain will dig a deeper whole for us to get out of!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  2. Holy Cow!

    Holy Cow! Give it time. After we have been in Iraq for a hundred more years we will then surely know who is supplying al Qaeda.

    March 18, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  3. James

    If misstating something in the midst of a speech is grounds to disqualify you from being the President. Then we would not be able to elect any of the three running. I would hope that the DNC would quit acting like high school debaters and concentrate on the real differences between their candidates and McCain. Unfortunately they have to keep spinning to try to keep the attention off of Barack's ministers comments which are more troubling, or the reminders of infidelity of New York Governor, which reminds us of how weak Hillary has already demonstrated that she is.

    March 18, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  4. Rick Cole

    McCain = forgetful, can't get it right. Sounds like another president with alzhiemers. Just what this country needs.

    March 18, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  5. John, Las Vegas, NV

    Well, at least he knows Al Qaeda is somewhere in Iraq now. The Dems don't think Al Qaeda is even there.

    March 18, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  6. Eric

    The lies about Iran have been repeated so often, even McCain is starting to believe them.

    March 18, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. Nando

    oppSS I did it again, Someone needs to check this man for ALZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  8. Vince, Vancouver

    He's trying too hard to be like Regan.

    March 18, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. D.Ward, Ph.D.

    Certainly with McWars excellent government paid health insurance doctors could treat his alzheimer's

    March 18, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  10. Yves larochelle

    He is an IGNORANT! Period.

    March 18, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  11. ObamaSupporters

    WOW! you McCain has no clue huh?
    that's really, really SAD. C'mon people. Vote OBAMA!

    Obama '08

    March 18, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. SpeaktheTruth

    Leaders apologize when they are wrong, or in this case when they misspeak.

    Cowards or self-serving career politicians side step issues and appeal to unrelated issues in a hope to confuse the public.

    March 18, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. issac

    we are all of the same skin but different shades we need to put aside what we feel is a just reason to divide..we are all in a planet where dark shadows of threat are looming on the warming could be very well the uncontrollble death that ends the survival of regardless whether one feels a desir for superiority we need to focus cuz what you do will effect how i live and how i live will effect what you do...

    March 18, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  14. josh

    McInsane will be like Cheney except the president.

    WWIII, anyone?

    March 18, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  15. thecubemonkey

    A verbal slip up is all I see. I understand the need to pounce on even the most minor mistake as this is the presidency we're talking about. However, I agree with Nom Deplume above, "If eloquence were the measure of leadership, my debate instructor should be president."

    March 18, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  16. Kevin MSU

    A presidential candidate that admits that he was wrong about something? Credit McCain's character for not trying to spin his momentary slip in to the truth.

    March 18, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  17. Emmanuel

    Please McCain is trying to be the guy. He never believed he would be the nominee, and wasn't ready to be the nominee. People that talk tough are never good leaders, but good commanders.
    He would be a good candidate for the Secretary of Defense. Joe would be his special adviser, he is already doing a good job whispering.

    March 18, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  18. Don,

    Another republican in the white house,,,, u got to be kid'n,,, Look where gwb got us,,,,Wake up people,,,,,,

    March 18, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  19. David

    We need McCain for three reasons: 1) He might ACTUALLYpromote fiscal conservatism, unlike Bush; 2) He will veto the expansion of government through socialized medicine; 3) He will be in a position to appoint more conservative supreme court justices who won't make up the law from the bench.

    March 18, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  20. Judy Dunn

    A "momentary verbal gaffe?" Oh, puhleeze! It WAS rather a sight, though, seeing Joe Lieberman, former Democratic VP candidate, politely correct him.

    It is amazing that both Clinton and Obama have been criticized for not having the experience in foreign affairs and at the same time a Republican senator that has undoubtedly been briefed by George W for years can make such a huge mistake.

    March 18, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  21. Lisa

    It is the third time in 2 days that he made this same error. This was only the first time it was caught on camera. Maybe I am an ageist but McCain is too old for this job. He looked really frazzled and scared when Trader Joe corrected him.

    God are we in trouble!

    March 18, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  22. Ratgurl

    WOW! That is not a MINOR gaffe – that's MAJOR!!! Is he going to say "oops, sorry" when he "accidentally" presses the "red button" and blows the world into oblivion? This guy is TOO OLD the be president, and I'm sorry if that sounds like ageism, but it IS a fact that the brain doesn't funtion as efficiently after a certain age (different for every individual). Seems McCain's brain is past that point.

    March 18, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  23. prakash chand


    McCain is better.

    March 18, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  24. ahna

    ignorance knows no value here folks!

    March 18, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  25. Carter

    Eventhough, I'm Obama supporter, I don't really mind if McCain wins in the general election. He is an American Hero. I don't judge him with minor mistake like this.

    March 18, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
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