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. tim

    it's a verbal gaffe if it happens once. It's sinility or ignorance, , if it happens repeatedly. Of course it could bejust another a device being used to justify a war w/ Iran.

    March 18, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  2. steve o barstow ca

    Is he senile already? Are the people buying into his McBushism? Well to bad suckers...

    March 18, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  3. Ossifer Mancuso

    If an argument is an excuse to beat the American breast and go to war, John McCain is attracted to it, regardless of its truth or falsity.

    March 18, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  4. E. C., Houston, Texas

    So What? Clinton Camp looks for anything: a word, a hair out of place, looks, dress, the way a person expresses himself....ANYTHING that they can Nit Pick to Death and toss out to the Media. It was a mistake, so move on, Karen. You,. Karen Finney don't have a Clue about what's going on anyway......OR there wouldn't have been so MANY PROBLEMS in the Clinton Campaign. Just another 'know it all' the woman she works for.......Too Bad! McCain is the only person qualified to be the President of this Nation. Quite Obviously, Karen Finney KNOWS THIS FACT or wouldn't go on the Offense If she didn't realize it. John McCain will SOUNDLY BEAT any Democratic Ticket PELOSI can put together this Year. Democrats have MAJOR PROBLEMS....Republicans will Win Again in 2008. AND JOHN MCCAIN WILL BE YOUR NEXT PRESIDENT, KAREN.

    March 18, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  5. Mike H

    Leave it to the democrats to make an issue out of mis-spoken words. Afterall, look at how the two top contenders for the dems have to correct either themselves, or admonish people that represent them. They apparently cannot contain themselves, so why is it not surprising that they attempt to belittle someone who has more intelligence regarding the military than either democratic candidate. Then again, what better way to take the spotlight off their own miscues....

    March 18, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  6. Rosa

    What we have here is MCCain in pre-A;zheimer's disease. Do you recall off the years that Regan was on the edge and far into the disease.

    March 18, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  7. E. C., Houston, Texas


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

    that was no momentary verbal gaffe. McCain is extending the Bush strategy of purposeful misinformation for his own political gain. He's not an idiot;, he knows darn well that al Qaida and Iran are natural enemies, but he wants people to think that Iran is aiding them just like Bush wanted us to think that Saddam was aiding them. Hopefully people have wised up a little and learned not to trust the nonsense that is fed to us by the Bush/Cheney/McSame club.

    March 18, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. eleanor

    "MOMENTARY VERBAL GAFFE"? How can you justify REPEATED offense as either "momentary" or a "gaffe"? It's clear that McCain is not informed well enough. The sad – and or scary – part is that he speaks with such conviction as if everything he knows, thinks, and says are undeniable truths, even when they're not. Also, if a person is speaking abroad as a representative of the American people, should he not be the kind of person who can present us as being a bit more knowledgeable regarding international affairs, especially when we're one of the key players of said affairs?

    March 18, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. eyeopener


    Read my lips. No new taxes-George Sr.,
    Hussein try to kill my daddy-Gerore Jr.,
    Read my lips, again, No new taxes-McSame,
    and all three are warmongers
    A momentary verbal gaffe is a sign of ALHEIMERS (STAGE 1), that can cost thouands of lives; which it has already. So who do you want answering the phone 3:00am or my case.

    March 18, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  11. Lisa Gross

    This is exactly why the Republicans try and shift the stories away from McCain and onto Obama because they know Obama is going to be very hard to beat. I can't wait for the words"President Barack Obama!"

    March 18, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  12. Floridian

    Clinton will win the rest of the states. The Super Delegates will not go with Obama as a result of his years of sermons wishing to institute some real change, what kind of change are we talking about though? How much change? and what….what are you going to do when you sit down with N. Korea, Iran, Cuba…how much are you going to change after sermons of hating how America is today, what we brought on to ourselves. Makes you go Hmmmm?

    Is anyone else as concerned, wow!!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. P

    Yeah, and if "guy I'd most like to have a beer with" were the critieria, some idiot like G "Dubya" Bush would be President. Oh wait a second . . . crap.

    March 18, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. jeff c in San Francisco

    It's not just a slip of the tongue, it's another indication that Americans can't remember the difference between Sunnis & Shiites & are flailing around in the Mideast in a state of confused paranoia about Arabs in general.
    McCain has had many years to learn the basics, but as a politician he can't be bothered because he knows the electorate can't tell Iran & Iraq apart. Sad but true.

    March 18, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  15. get real

    Come on everybody! McCain supporters knows this guy is to OLD....Forgetful, confused, you name it. He should be running for President of the AARP organization

    March 18, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. Trev

    I think the point isn't the gaff, but the idea that he has Iran on the brain. We know what happens when a president gets a country on his mind as the enemy (even when another more serious enemy emerges).

    Hillary 08

    March 18, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  17. leonard

    America, it is llegal to hold senator barak Obama responsible for

    the action and comments of Pastor Jeremiah Wright.

    Prove yourself by taking him to the American Supreme Court.

    Can you ?

    March 18, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  18. Jim

    Just before W took office, gas was $1.46 per gallon. Now it's close to 4 bucks. W made the former CEO of an oil company (the one who received 500 million in bonus and severance) the head of his committee for alternative energy......Now McCain wants to take over that regime.....Wow .... family values....wave the republican

    March 18, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Bayou Joe

    Is that all the Democrats have to question? That is pretty shallow. Off course they are very shallow. Mr. Racist or Mrs Feminism. Boy what a choice for Democrats. With all the Democrats available that is what we end up with. America is in trouble. Somehow we failed to raise leaders during the past 30 years. The election will come down to whom we believe will protect the interests of the United States a nd in my humble opinion the only one i can trust to do this is Senator John McCain.

    March 18, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  20. ObamaGuy

    McCain continues to prove that he is unfit for the job he has applied for. This wasn't a gaffe. It's just more proof that McCain has a very weak grasp on the facts. He lumps anyone in the Middle East region together as members of "The Enemy" and is determined to destroy them even if it destroys America in the process. Remember what he said about the "Gates of Hell"? Can you say George W. Bush THE SEQUEL?

    March 18, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  21. Charles

    McCain doesn't know which end is up.

    March 18, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  22. Dave

    Al Qaeda in Iran now??? Looks like Bush is going to get a going away Present if McCain wins, Attack Iran! This is why we need a Clinton back in the White House, to clean up after "Lil Bush".

    March 18, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  23. Dave in Alexandria, VA

    I'm up in the air on McCain, but I've noticed over the last 8.5 years that he's not a very good public speaker. Great guy to sit down with and chat for a while, but he's got an old mind – he forgets things, confuses names/concepts. He's closer to Dan Quayle than Obama.

    March 18, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  24. Ben

    Experience without judgment is like a well traveled ship on a voyage but this time without a pilot.

    March 18, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. We cannot afford 4 more years of G.W.Bush

    McCain, please go home, it's time for you to retire. You won't be able to take that pressure.

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