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. Obama For Change

    Great this guy's as out of it as bush.

    March 18, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  2. look byond

    He is going to push the wrong button, and have us all killed.
    The guy is aged, and once again he has demonstrated that he doesn't know anything about Iraq or Iran.

    He has also said that he is CONSERVATIVE LIBERAL Republican.
    What a statement


    March 18, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  3. F. Lynn

    And republican's think this is the man to lead us out of darkness? I know he's glad Joe was there to help! Face it, if Hillary said this man and she are the only candidates to lead, run from them both! McCain is to old for this and loosing it already. The stress of office will sap him dry!
    Hillary is so toxic no one would work with her in Washington. again we would get more of the same – nothing done.
    With Obama, people from all sides come together and have during his past 20 years in the Ill. legislature and his years in the Senate. He wants to make an inclusive cabinet and place people of the highest caliber in positions of power. What a change from the bush admin. He wants to get things done by bringing every body to the table. Hillary would just steal the table, (again – or maybe bring the one she stole back?).
    Let's move on as a nation for a change. McCain, he's dazed and completely confused!

    March 18, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  4. Fowler

    Oh....he just had a "senior moment"......that's all.

    Soon, he will need diapers too.

    March 18, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  5. John

    McCain is the only candidate who has the skills to lead America in a time of war. Look at the other options– Hillary? Obama? Are you kidding me? Whats the extent of their military experience– the girlscouts? McCain is a war hero.

    March 18, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  6. Gayle

    McCain is a warmonger just like the rest of the GOP losers we have in office now!

    No more of the same old cr*p, vote for a Democrat and Hillary has my vote!!!

    March 18, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  7. Roscoe

    The democracks are so desperate that all they can attack is a minor mistake. Obama has no ideas or policies, and Hillary has no shame or integrity. Get set for another 4 years of a Republican President!

    March 18, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  8. Jordan

    Lieberman isn't a democrat he's an independent now.

    March 18, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  9. Buddy Baker

    The guy is totally out of his depth. It's not like foreign policy is a side interest or "hobby" of his–it's his bleeding JOB! And this clown wants to be Commander-in-Chief?! This succinctly underscores McCain's inability to grasp even the most fundamental issues that drive the dynamics of foreign policy. God help the United States if this muppet gets the backing of the American electorate.

    March 18, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  10. Jordan (again)

    Is there any chance that Lieberman is going to be McCain's VP?

    March 18, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  11. G. Coleman

    The Rev. Wright makes racist and hate-filled comments. Then Sen. Obama gives a speech to the country on"racism". Shouldn't Sen. Obama be giving this speech to his former pastor? Why do should all TV viewers be "punished" by seeing and listening to Sen. Obama's "racism" speech, when Rev. Wright is the guilty person.

    March 18, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  12. Steve

    These attacks are exactly as I predicted. The Dems are getting so beaten up by the realization that racism actually exists within their own ranks, that they are desperate for anything to grab onto. As Nom DePlume put it, this is a momentary verbal gaffe, nothing more, and the people here treat it like a major policy exposition.

    Grab on to your hats; Obama's wild ride is just beginning.

    March 18, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  13. Nick

    Wow... this is a non issue. Typical Democratic party stooping to low levels to attack someone's misstep in words.

    March 18, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  14. Y

    The headline of this story should read "McCain makes Iran gaffe". It has nothing to do with democrats. Hey CNN, the real story here is that McCain made a stupid mistake, NOT that the democrats are spreading the word that McCain made a stupid mistake.


    March 18, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  15. Chris

    It was way more than a verbal gaffe do you understand the real-world implications of wrongfully accusing an entire country. McCain and Hillary may have experience but Obama knows the difference between two factions of one of the world's largest religions and knows how to combat an issue the right way

    March 18, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  16. Darren

    McCain could have said that Al Qaeda was getting support from Gautemalan rebels and it wouldn't matter......

    Some things are actually very simple. The seniors and bluehairs are going to push McCain into office....handily.....

    March 18, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  17. Chris

    by the way I'm a different Chris than the one who talks about President Bush

    March 18, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  18. Kiwi Pete

    Nom Deplume: Geez, that all the Dems have to talk about, a momentary verbal gaffe?

    A momentary verbal gaffe? Someone who claims decades of foreign policy experience ought to know the difference between Al Qaida and Shiite extremists. Gives the lie to his much vaunted advantage in this field. Still, he could probably have pointed out where Iran is on a map, if pressed, so he may be an improvement on the incumbent...

    March 18, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  19. TerryD

    This is one of the reasons Hillary R. Clinton will be the next president of America.
    She is articulate, she knows her foreign relations and she would be well prepped about any situation, before she commits to an off the cuff comment..

    Hillary R. Clinton your time is now and yes you will be the next president..... God Bless America

    March 18, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  20. Sylvia Young

    With all the knowledge your political experts have, I'm always amazed at how tunnel vision they are regarding Obama, even when the obvious is RIGHT THERE front and center. About the Obama speech, after 20 years of a constant relationship with this preacher, no one has asked how this preacher's views could have affected Obama's thinking. 20 years people!!! Afterall, Obama himself has admitted that this preacher is like family, who has been there through 20 years, inspiring and molding him. I don't trust Obama. I believe with all my heart that he could be the Anti-Christ.

    San Antonio, Texas

    March 18, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  21. Kimber Grace

    McCain is not a racist and is a true patriot. Face it Dems, ya'll messed up completely and your top candidate(Bill Richardson) did not even make the cut. McCain has my (independent, liberal, educated) vote in November. Unless, of course, he too is a member of Rev. Wright's church.

    March 18, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  22. jen

    "Obama supports need to stop bashing Hillary. Hillary and Obama really need to run together. "

    It goes both ways. Hillary suppoters bash Obama just as much if even more. At least that's what I've seen around me.

    March 18, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  23. Tom

    NomDeplumeJDLLM– "geez that is all the dems have to talk about, a momentary verbal gaffe?"

    please reread the article. mccain was wrong today and mccain said the same thing yesterday. that makes 2 'gaffes'. its not 1 momentary gaffe, its proof he has no idea of the war's reality or relationships between iraq, iran, sunnis, shia, and al qaeda.

    that should scare you.

    March 18, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  24. Unbelievable

    Gaffe? Are you crazy? If McCain is this confused during the day; would you want him answering the phone at 3:00am in the morning at the White House?

    This kind of mistake could prove detrimental if made at the wrong time. Senior citizens are fuzzy when woken up in the middle of the night. Does America really have time for someone to bring McCain up to speed during a senior moment? Can we risk that kind of time frame if the situation is mission critical?

    Better yet, how do you have a foreign policy when you are clue-less to what is really going on?

    March 18, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  25. Will

    Here we go again. To borrow a phrase from Donald Rumsfeld;
    " henny penny the sky is falling" Republicans are at there fear mongering again.

    March 18, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
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