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. James Buchanan

    What a sad statement about the pettiness of American politics in the face of matters of substance.

    If you want perfect delivery on camera, go to Hollywood. I'd rather be lead by real people who screw up from time to time than a polished image wth no bearing on the soul within.

    People who get hung up on form fail miserably at function. A testament of the Democratic Part of the last thirty years.

    March 18, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  2. Healthcare

    "She's my grandma, and I love her, but I will do anything to win the
    presidency so I'll throw her under the bus." –Obama

    March 18, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Duke Nuke 'em

    The "final three" have all mis-spoken. McCains obvious, Barack Obama- "never heard " Jeremiah White aka Al Sharpton speak negative of whites (911 comments incorporated whites) and Sir Edmund Hillary Clinton – misquoting Obama speech today. We need yet an another candidate after one of these clowns is elected.

    March 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  4. John

    Wow.... O no he didn't.... I can't believe he said that..... What a mistake....How can he be president now......
    Please is this really even news???? a small monentary verbal gaffe?? This doesn't happened to everyone everyday?? CNN you should just come out for Obama already and stop pretending you are a fair news network

    March 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  5. Vignesh

    Well all I can say is that I would rather not attack another country, but after we invaded Iraq it would be a good idea to let things settle down before we pull out and let everybody kill each other. That would be immoral, regardless of the reasons for entering the war.

    March 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  6. LordVngr

    Generally this would be no big deal but the statement does say something pretty reveling. When he changed from al Qaeda being trained in Iran to extremists being trained in iran, To him there was No Difference, Al Qaeda or extremists, whats the difference. I used to really like McCain but his time was 2000 not now. If McCain gets elected it will be nothing more then a 3rd Bush term and almost 100% for sure a war with Iran too within two years. Think about it.

    March 18, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  7. John, NYC,NY

    John McCain: Do you remember that song by the beach boys? "bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran..." If we let our race and ignorant push us to elect Sen. McCain then believe it or not, he will hook us with another war + the two we already fighting.

    lets open our eyes. God bless America!

    March 18, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  8. Conservative Girl

    If Hillary Clinton had good judgement, she would not be with Bill. And if Bill had good judgement, he would not have been with Monica.

    Obama is a Hollywood marketing phenomena and has nothing of substance to offer our country as a leader of anything.

    McCain does have 27 years of experience in the Senate, which is the scary thing.

    I do not like any of these candidates.

    March 18, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  9. ps

    Scary!!!! It wasn't a gaffe but a reflection of his lack of understanding. I knew Bush took quite some time to figure out these differences but I'm surprised McCain isn't more on top of things.

    March 18, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Eli, Milwaukee

    It was more than a verbal gaffe since he said it more than once. The guy has no idea about whats going on in the world and just wants to find reasons to war.
    And Joe Lieberman is going to back any war that is about destroying Muslims. He is one Jewish politician who I believe is letting his religious affiliation cloud better judgment..

    March 18, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. scott from manchester NH

    mccains campaign said this:"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.”

    hmmm, 8 years of THE biggest bonehead CIC in history, and......THATS the best mccains top guys can throw to the media??
    the biggest concern america has at this point, is how STUPID do you have to be to allow a republican to call the shots on ANYTHING....EVER again...

    March 18, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  12. Jane

    Great, another mis-step by the GOP. Someone should have briefed this 'War General' on Iraq and Iran.

    This 'War General' should be reminded, he's not winning one for Nixon, this is 2008.

    March 18, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  13. GooBoy

    Like this story will get any traction while Hillary and Obama are imploding

    March 18, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  14. kell

    McCain = Bush

    this man is too freaking OLD and all he is thinking is WAR!

    I do not want too do this for 4 more yrs.

    Obama 08! but if he doesnt win..i will vote for Hillary

    never McWar

    March 18, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  15. Ted

    Obama’s speech today and McCain’s slip of the mind is a good contrast in a single day and indicative of the what the real issue is in this race.

    Just for the record, this contest is not about race or gender nor is about democrats and republicans.

    Make no mistake, the single most important question before the American people is more about the “new” vs the “old” and it has nothing to do with “age”.

    Quite simply! Americans deserve something new!

    Go Obama!

    From and older white Canadian!

    Best wishes to our Best neighbors!

    March 18, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  16. James Chirico

    C'mon leave the old war heo alone. Thank him for his service and realize he does not know what is going on in the theater going against the recommendations of former war theater commander Fallon. I like the guy, just don't think he should be president.

    March 18, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  17. Craig, Seattle, WA

    Obama President?... No thank you. I for one do not want Mr NO EXPERIENCE IN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY!

    March 18, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  18. Sue, Michigan

    "a momentary verbal gaffe"? Yes, one that could start a war with Iran-oh, wait, he already said he would do that. Haven't we suffered enough with the illiterate current resident of the White House? That's why people love Obama-he can actually string words together and make sense! Hillary too!

    March 18, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  19. Tinker111

    I listened to McCain when he miss spoke about Iran. If we hold a small slip of the tounge against him then we need to hold everyone at the same level. Anderson Cooper included

    March 18, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  20. bjon

    Let he who has not "gaffed", cast the first stone...

    March 18, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  21. reg

    uh-oh is he becoming senial already?

    March 18, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  22. Sarkar

    Looks like another Bush is getting ready. If McCain wins, surely it will be Bush's 3rd term, only worse than the previous two.

    March 18, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  23. Jon - NY

    This isn't a momentary verbal gaffe, it shows McCain is either senile or does not understand middle eastern culture at all.

    March 18, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  24. Mary - Independent

    McCain cannot run this Country. He cannot get his facts straight on Iraq and Iran. Who wants a 100-year war?

    March 18, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  25. Mark Ferbet, Grain Valley Missouri

    This is the reason that we can't trust McCain to handle foreign affairs...

    The Bush Administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq were proven once again, by the Pentagon, to be wrong. At this time, our Nation needs to pay very close attention to those that want to continue to follow this Administrations lead in the area of Iraq... as they made the wrong choice to begin with, based on very bad intelligence, and obviously lied to the American People.

    McCain has just proven once again that those that follow Bush, apparently have NO idea what the reality is in the middle east, and what it will really take to bring peace to that region.

    I'd like to hear McCain explain to the American People where he got his intelligence that Iran was supporting Al-Qaida. Of course, it's probably the same bunch of folks that told Bush Saddam was supporting Al-Qaida.

    Can we as a Nation be so foolish again?

    March 18, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
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