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. JFK

    Has this not been the Bush foreign policy for the last 7 years?? Say something enough, you can make the public believe anything!

    March 18, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. BoomerscoutofAmerica

    Hey, we ?elected? a "momentary verbal gaffe" in 2000, and bingo here's another from the bullpen. Do our redstater leaderss ever bother to inform themselves? Can't wait for this campaign fall's campaign to begin since I'm such a verbal gaffe nut.

    March 18, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  3. Ben

    The blurred though processes of John McCain are just the tip of the iceburg for his incompetence. It's time this gentleman just retire. If we put another President in place that continues to shame the nation by sticking his foot in his mouth at every chance expect that we will lose their respect.

    March 18, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  4. Randall

    Does anyone remember Martin Luther King, a very intelligent man and pastor, make racial statements and curse America? I don't believe you find such remarks in any of his books and/or speeches. Further, I can't recall Colin Powell making such negative statements about Americans, whites, and the wars our country has fought. Yet, Obama and his friend, pastor, and mentor can make such racial and anti-American statements. Why is this?

    March 18, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  5. HELP

    The American political system is a Joke. We continue to talk about race. Everyone is fighting tooth and nail about who's the best candidate. Governors are getting caught with hookers. Black & White issues continue. McCain is a veteran and still has some authority in this country and still doesn't know that Shiite and Sunni have been fighting for centuries. Our President refuses to confess that he missed the ball on our economy. Why are we trying to get IRAQ to change to this?

    March 18, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  6. Charles in Salt Lake City, UT

    Holy crap! You're saying McCain made a slip of the tongue? Well, then OF COURSE this means he has to be unfit to hold the office of President!

    Why, no Democrat has EVER committed such a horrid, unpardonable sin of such grevious magnitude. All elected Democrats do is ram their wangs into every available scuzzy hole that presents itself, but everybody knows there's nothing wrong with that and they're even pretty much expected to (wink, wink).

    By the way, Hillary Clinton bites the heads off kittens and baby ducks. Everybody knows that, too.

    March 18, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  7. vthai

    "Geez...a momentary verbal gaffe?"

    Mistakenly saying a country we're trying not to go to war with is contributing to Al-Qaeda is not a gaffe it's stupidity. The three senators look completely ridiculous.

    March 18, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  8. north of 49, eh?

    The acrimony between the Reps and the Dems is stunning. Watching from the Great White North, I think it's pitiful that a candidate can't mis-speak without the other party treating it like the end of the world and the media whipping it into a firestorm. I suppose in tightly fought election contests (and media ratings contests) every vote (and viewer)is important, but creating a fuss over this won't gain ANY votes (or viewers). Ease up.

    March 18, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  9. Highwired

    LL.M. – If eloquence were the measure of leadership George Bush would have been forced to resign on his second day.

    March 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  10. Graham

    nom deplume, j.d., ll.m, this isn't a momentary verbal gaffe. it's been repeated, he's either misinformed or misleading intentionally.

    March 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  11. craig

    In response to Nom Deplume, J.D., L.L.M. We went into the war in Iraq under false pretenses and misinformation, the American public has recently been officially informed that the Government in Iraq had no connections to the terrorist bombers of 9/11/2001 and today the Republican Nominee for President cannot keep facts straight as to who is helping and aiding whom in the conflict effort. And your perception is that this is a "momentary verbal gaffe"? This is not about eloquence, it is about competency.

    March 18, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  12. eddie

    Can anybody say "Manchurian Candidate"?

    March 18, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  13. Randall Giovanni

    Com'n! Cut McCain some slack.

    The whole are was known as Persia when he was growing up!

    March 18, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  14. Floridian

    Clinton will win the rest of the states. Super Delegate will not go with Obama as a result of years of sermons wishing to institute some real change, what kind of change are we talking about thought? How much change? and what....what are you going to do when you sit down with N. Korea, Iran, much are you going to change after sermons of haiting how America has been what we brought on to ourselves. Make you go Hmmmm?

    March 18, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  15. Robert

    I like McCain a lot, but I do have to say, this seems like a rookie's mistake. Iran and Al Quaeda are on the opposite end of the extremist spectrum in Islam. This is common knowledge, not even something you would only expect experts to know.

    March 18, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Dr Uvo


    March 18, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. Howard Masur St. Charles, Illinois

    This represents a pattern with McCain. He has consistently taken an aggressive position towards Iran, from his "bomb, bomb Iran" and then this. If we have learned anything the last 7 years it is that war is not the answer. We should try diplomacy with Iran, but first we must get rid of the Republicans.

    March 18, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  18. Conservative for Obama.

    How about the "i'm a liberal" gaffe? How about shipping jobs overseas? A panel full of lobbyists? Tax breaks for the wealthy? Alleged sexual misdeeds?

    Intelligent people for Obama 08

    March 18, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. Jay

    Will Lieberman be there at 3 AM when the red phone rings? I'd hate to think we nuke the wrong guys because of a 'misstep'.

    But not to worry, If McCain gets it wrong, we can be sure he'll say, "I'm sorry."

    March 18, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  20. Eith

    lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sen. McCain needs to be a little more careful!

    March 18, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. Jeffrey

    Just a continuation of "W", which actually in this case stands for "LOSER". We can't afford another 4 or 8 years of incompetence on foreign policy. As well, McCain has stated he doesn't know too much about economics so we can't afford him from a domestic perspective either. Go Hillary Go!

    God save us from someone who has to have Lieberman whisper sweet nothings in his ear!!!! Oy!

    March 18, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  22. Independant/Iowa

    DNC personal Karen Finney is akin to an attack dog/ (pit bull)
    While you don't need to be a poodle you might consider a friendly
    black lab type stance.

    To bit into ones misfortunite mis steep like a pit bull just don't make sense or tell the REAL message at hand. Just make for back handed news is all

    Independant looking for change?
    Is it out there?

    March 18, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. Ron

    Senator McCain,
    The guy is better for this country than Obama and his deny deny deny
    approach to problems or to Hillarys so called experience...experience at what, being Pres. Clinton's attach dog for 8 years.

    March 18, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. Zorach Eibenen

    @Nom DePlume

    This isn't a momentary verbal Gaffe – it's a direct result of the Bush administration's spin of the entire conflict in black and white, infantile, unnuanced terms. There's US, and the evildoers, and they have one name, and that's "Al Qaeda". End of story.

    AQI represents only 2% of the extremist groups in Iraq, and yet that's all we hear about. Now, I could understand if Dana Perrino, or some other mouthpiece were to make that Gaffe, because it's their job to deliver the made-for-tv version of reality, but you have to expect that someone in McCain's position would be so immersed enough in the real story that he'd never make this kind of mistake. His spouting of the pablum version of this conflict's narrative indicates that either, he doesn't understand it, or he's drunk too much koolaid, or, he's already gearing up to take over the wheels of spin himself and continue painting a mural of utter BS for the American public.

    If the democrats mishandle this statement, it will be because they don't end up pouncing on it enough.

    March 18, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  25. Norm

    McCain/Lieberman hahaha......As Bush would say, bring it on LOL

    March 18, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
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