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. fdsfgs

    Four more years?

    March 18, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  2. alice2

    McCain is not alert enough to realize what he is doing!!! To slow and gets confused too easily!! He will be another George Bush, mistake after mistake. How refreshing!!(HA, HA!) I think he is too old to be Pres. I love BARACK OBAMA for Pres, we are the future and McCain is history,. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN. OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

    March 18, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  3. Rob Stumpf

    It's amazing that the same people that attack McCain for a verbal misstep are the same ones who turn around and whine that our politics are too superficial. If we make a big deal out of silly things, why should we be surprised when politicians do nothing but spin? We get the politicians we deserve.

    If stuff like this is the best the Left can do, McCain is going to win easily.

    March 18, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  4. jms

    This man is too old and his memory is really bad. I certainly do not want him answering the red phone.

    March 18, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. Travis


    I could take a world cruise and visit 80 countries. That means nothing. Hillary had about as much impact on the Irish peace process and the war in Kosovo as a tourist, too.

    March 18, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  6. Brett Madison, WI

    Nom, it's not a matter of a momentary verbal gaffe – it's a matter of knowing what's going on in the world, which McCain obviously doesn't. Misstatements like this can escalate tensions between countries and prevent any real progress from being made.

    That's why McCain cannot be President – our country is too damaged to be able to endure a third term for GWB.

    March 18, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  7. dex

    Mr. Mccains comments are a bit mroe than a gaff. He said it repeatedly, over th espan of two days. His people should have gotten him straight. If he can't get foreign policy right, an area that he has been involved in for years, we don't stand a chance of him helping fix the economy.

    March 18, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  8. Eric

    responding to spd: "She has been to 80 countries"... but so has Paris Hilton.

    March 18, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  9. Juan Cruz

    "Momentary Verbal Gaffe" ?

    That's kind of like "youthful indiscretion".

    Tell the truth: The POS doesn't know what he's talking about. Period.

    March 18, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. Greg

    Who would I trust to be in a foxhole with when things get tough? John McCain.
    Who would I trust to best decide which foxhole I should fight in? Barack Obama.
    The fact that McCain himself says he better at helping National Security than the Economy sinks his ship right away – since the #1 Issue in America now is the Economy. And also – to confuse "Iran with Iraq" is so revealing in how McCain thinks about the situation. It's so black and white. It's so us versus them. He sees the whole middle east as them. No wonder we are creating more enemies than we can kill.
    Barack – you are the right man for the job. I am tired of so much incompetance in the white house. Pennsylvania – please vote for him.

    March 18, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  11. Mary in Al

    He's suppose to be our next commander-in-chief? How scary is that?

    He just might go off and start a war with the wrong country. Sound familiar?


    March 18, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  12. Teresa W. of CA

    He is not capable of making those kind of statement on international media. He will harm all in americans just by making those kind of mistakes. We are being laughed at by the international community at large. Kim Jong III is sitting in his chair cracking jokes on McCains verbal mistake. I will not vote for him if he was the last human being on this planet or universe. Why is he in Iraq when he should be addressing the US economy?

    March 18, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  13. Reg20032


    It wasn't a "momentary verbal gaffe". He said it repeatedly. In addition, he was caught saying it yesterday. He didn't know any better.

    March 18, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  14. jacq

    Heard his MCainGirls ad today. Outdated and laughable.

    March 18, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  15. never MCcain 2nd

    McWar + No Mcintelligence = " my friends" Bush & Cheney.

    March 18, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  16. OnlyObama

    God help this country if we go into another war, especially one with Iran. Leave the Iranians ALONE. The American government and the media have made Iran into this huge monster. There are extremist in every society and background. Iran is just an easy target for the crazies like McCain right now, because it's right across the street from Iraq.

    McCain is the biggest idiot there is. I can't believe he has supporters.

    I have an idea, about you leave the middle east alone and work out all the problems in your OWN country.

    March 18, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  17. russell schokman

    Apparently McCain is going from prisoner of war to prisoner of Lieberman. He apparently has very limited knowledge of world affairs, in particular the volatile middle east situation..Pretty much as Dick Cheney was a mouthpiece{ear piece) for an ignorant George Bush,McCain seems to need a babysitter.He made the same" mistake" twice with respect to Iran helping Al Qaeda. America cannot afford to have leaders babble on ,even if they have a faithful Poodle as a comforter. I sincerely hope he brushes up on his History and Geography especially of the middle East.Lieberman will not be around to whisper in his ear when he debates whoever the Democratic nominee will be.

    March 18, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  18. Barrington of Cambridge

    OLD ... not that there is anything wrong with that.

    March 18, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  19. john, santa clara, ca

    John McCain can say what ever he likes. He is looking to become
    President of the United States as more and more good Democrats are
    getting sick and tired of our parties infighting. All McCain needs to do
    is stay awake and he will wake up President in November.

    March 18, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  20. Tom

    Hmm... a Republican politician misstating an unpopular middle-eastern country's connection to al Qaeda... something about this seems vaguely familiar...

    March 18, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  21. Jack

    Looks like once again John McCain the "old man" is confused about who is doing what around the world. The republican party is putting forward a man that advocates bombing another country since the two we are already at war with are not enough.

    What we need is more republican young men to drop out of collage and join in the fight for our country so they can become as knowledgeable as their leaders.

    We need Mitt's son's and George's daughters to take up arms and give our war weary troops a break! Come on you loyal republicans, your education can wait until we have conquered all our enemies and your leader John McCain will be getting help from his mentor George to figure out who to shoot next!

    March 18, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  22. Anyone but a Republican!

    Its not the gaffe that bothers me – its the whispers about Iran & WMDs...just like they did in Iraq....can we not see where this is headed???

    McCain = WAR!

    March 18, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  23. Dave, SC

    I do not believe democrats can do better. They just try to find some opportunity to downgrade John McCain.

    Democrats do not have any plan for our security and they want to support Al Qaeda. No wire-tapping...

    March 18, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  24. Dayahka

    This was no verbal gaffe; it is a conceptual misunderstanding. I wonder if McCon has enough working brain cells to be able to manage presidential decision-making.

    March 18, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  25. Josey Wells

    Hi folks,
    Say, as a new " Black-Brazilian ... latin-american citizen, proud volunteer of my community... married to an 'white iowan citizen... i must say... how race helps me in my community... my Brazilian country in its needs... my best interest overseas... my life!
    Josey Wells
    Your cashier.

    March 18, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
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