March 19th, 2008
10:19 AM ET
10 years ago

Dems seize on McCain's Iran gaffe

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/18/art.mccainjordan.ap.jpg 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. deidre

    IS MCcain too old to run for office? Maybe he was having a senior moment.

    March 18, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  2. ojo

    A "momentary verbal gaffe" is one sentence, and then realizing what you said, then retracting...not repeating it several times, then to have someone whisper into your ear to correct you. THEN, to say almost the same thing later in an interview! Imagine if Lieberman had not been there?

    After 9/11, Bush began mentioning al Qaeda and Iraq in the same sentence. After a while, he (and much of America) began to believe they were intricately connected, and that justified the war. You have to wonder if McCain has the same plan for Iran.

    March 18, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. willis

    A VOTE FOR HILLARY IS A VOTE FOR MCCAIN. RUSH LIMBAUGH HAS ADVISED REPUBLICANS TO VOTE FOR HILLARY BECAUSE SHE IS THE WEAKER CANDIDATE TO DEFEAT IN NOVEMBER - THAT IS HOW SHE WON NARROWLY TEXAS.

    OF COURSE, THESE REPUBLICANS WILL NOT SUPPORT HER DURING THE GENERAL ELECTION. HILLARY LIKES TO SAY THAT SHE WON THE LARGER STATES - BUT THIS IS JUST A FALSE WIN AS THE REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED FOR HER DURING THE PRIMARY WILL NOT SUPPORT HER DURING THE GENERAL.

    THIS IS LIKE A CHESS GAME AND THE REPUBLICANS ARE MASTERING THE ART OF WINNING THE WHITE HOUSE.

    HILLARY WILL NEVER SLEEP AS PRESIDENT IN THE WHITE HOUSE - AND YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!!!

    March 18, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  4. John Roberts

    Lets hope OBAMA or CLINTON can solve this and one of them win in november..this sounded like 2003 and Iraq

    March 18, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  5. Deb in NC

    wait a minute. I think just last week that the Minister of Intelligence in Iraq, a moderate Sunni, said that Iran was, in fact, now funding AQ in Iraq, solely to sow discord ( even tho' Iran is Shiite and one would not think of Iran as supporting the Sunni AQI.)
    So, I suspect that McCain read that report also. Obviously, the Dems (and perhaps Leiberman) haven't seen these remarks by the Iraqi Minister of Intelligence.
    (No, I don't recall his name, or the source, but I can definitely locate that, if challenged!)

    March 18, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. Unbelievable

    Also, the script on this one is already written. They handed John McCain the book, however, he forgot to read it or memorize it.

    The Republican party could have Booze-Zoo the clown running for President as long as Booze-Zoo is willing to follow the script.

    Honestly, I feel they want McCain to lose. Everytime he opens his mouth or the Republican party does...it is another nail in the coffin. The funeral is in November for all who want to attend.

    March 18, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  7. BruntLIVE

    Thanks McCain for showing your true colors, no matter how much Sean Hannity tries to get Americans to vote for you by default, it's not working. I'm not voting for you just because. For all of you about Liberbman, you have to understand the AIPAC lobby (Jewish Lobby) the GOP is the only party that will fight was for Israel for free and without question.

    March 18, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. Harold Haddix

    vote for Hillary!!Subject: Remember this picture on election day!
    Let's all remember this on election day...if you have family serving in the military, make sure you send it along. I had heard about this but a picture is definitely worth 1000 words! God save us!!!

    Senator Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Hillary Clinton and Ruth Harkin stand during the national anthem.
    Barack Hussein Obama's photo (that's his real name).....the article said he REFUSED TO NOT ONLY PUT HIS HAND ON HIS HEART DURING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, BUT REFUSED TO SAY THE PLEDGE.....how in the hell can a man like this expect to be our next C ommander-in-Chief

    March 18, 2008 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  9. geber22

    First Hilary can't win the nomination, it's mathematically impossible. Second she can't be the VP, because she said she was ready, John Mccain was ready, and Obama had a speech.

    McCain makes a decent candidate when he is not trying to shore up his base, this will be an on going problem. His Iraq stance is a deal buster, I wish I could run against him.

    March 18, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  10. Law

    I think Campbell Brown's reporting today is appalling. She is trying to put words in her guests to insight the issue. Bay Buchannan said it best...stoop slicing and dicin by race gender and let's move forward. Yet Campbell muddled on. She doesn't get it! Bring back Anderson!

    March 18, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  11. Freddy

    McCain had his way. We would be at war with Iran right now. Bomb Bomb Iran

    March 18, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  12. Alise Herbert

    Wow and McCain is the Republican nominee… well we know that party is not for change! This only makes the case that we must have a Democratic President to stop the madness. It appears that war is the only thing on the Republican Party agenda even if they do not know who they are going to war with or why???? If this was not so serious it would be funny; but how could one joke when our military is fighting this futile war, sacrificing their life and their Commander and Chief can not even tell us who the enemy or why we are there Honestly.

    March 18, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  13. ari

    If you make the same mistake three times in a row, you can't brush it off as jet-lag or memory lapse. And am afraid not he last time, and then again he is proud of his foreign-experience. Go figuere.

    March 18, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  14. Objective

    McCain is able to say "sorry" after a mistake. Other candidates keep making speeches.

    March 18, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  15. Rod Hale

    Unlike Bush and Cheney who are just complete "liars", McCain is just plain senile. How could one trust him to get out of this "hole" Bush and Cheney has put this country in?

    March 18, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  16. DGH

    I would not call this a "momentary verbal gaffe". If we are going to elect a president that will take the lead on issues in this most difficult region of the world, there is little room for mistake. Both Hillary and Obama are relative novices . . . but McCain is not. His years of experience (especially wrt foreign affairs) raise the bar on my expectations of him. I am a potential McCain supporter but am concerned that he tends to speak without thinking . . . like W.

    March 18, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  17. Jesus

    McBush, he can keep us entertained after Bush II leaves office.

    March 18, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  18. Bill, Cool Springs

    Only Hillary has the knowledge and experience to help this country. She will help everyone as she has for years. McCain is a good man, just wrong ideals. Barry is nothing but a big mouth that has lied about everything he has said. Because of him I know how my black friends feel about me. I liked it alot better when I felt they respected me as much as I do them. All my life I felt we were close and to find out they go to church and listen to preachers say whites are against them? I was never white and they were never black.....we are just friends. And why is this in a campaign.....thanks BO, you stink.

    March 18, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  19. Samantha Everette

    Why doesn't Obamma say he is white instead of black? Is he a racist??????Yes. He is a racist...

    March 18, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  20. Kevin

    A momentary verbal gaffe? He said it YESTERDAY on a talk show, then today repeated it numerous times. At best, it's a sign that age is catching up to him. At worst, he is the latest in a loooooooong line of Republicans who don't know a thing about Islam to such an extent that they can't even distinguish Shiites from Sunnis. I suppose that had someone called the Purtians Catholics they'd just let that slide, eh?

    March 18, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  21. Sara

    All I have to say, after the half truths that have come out about Obama and the very disturbing people he chooses to be friends with will cost him the general election. Im a 100% democrat and if Obama is the nom Im voting for Mccain!!
    P.S Cnn you never post my comments

    March 19, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  22. Harry

    Some pretty lame comments here, lacking substance. McCain's the only one willing to say what Hillary and Obama are afraid to say—that the U.S. must not leave Iraq without its government intact. McCain says it with courage and character. Obama speaks out of both sides of his mouth about it, depending on who he's talking to, and Hillary says whatever works at the moment.

    March 19, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  23. BILL texas

    Hillary visited 80 countries including Arkansas.John McCain visited 18 countries this includes 10 times to Iraq and 4 times to Cancun, Mexico beaches. Hillary has world experience and better Commander in Chief can answer the red phone at 3 AM with the hair dryer on. That is very very hard that time of the night.

    March 19, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  24. Rod

    Just because you say Al-Qaeda doens't mean you have a good grasp on foreign policy. Unless you are so old and stuck in your ways that you will continue George Bush policy for the next 8 years because you don't have any new ideas of your own and you don't have a clue what is going on in Iraq and Iran.

    I wouldn't vote for you if you were the only option available. Neither should America.

    March 19, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  25. Grant in Canada

    Sadly, at 71, this probably isn't the first instance of "forgetting" or "misremembering". It usually doesn't get better with more "age."

    My American friends, my neighbors, my cousins........

    You know what you need to do............ no matter which of the Dem's comes out of the nominating race.

    Peace and love from the north

    March 19, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
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