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. LaLa in KCMO

    Mccain is clearly not the right person to represent America in the Middle East ... or anywhere. That is a mistake that you just can't make. We already look stupid internationally – the Republicans looks like fumbling idiots and they are making the rest of the country look that way too.

    March 19, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  2. Murray

    Oh yeah, by the way. All of you who leave comments, don't expect anyone to take you seriously if you can't even take the time to proof read your posts. Either you're not paying attention, or you are too stupid to have even the slightest mastery of your native language. Just read over your posts for second. It's o.k. to have a couple of mistakes here and there, but really, you all are pathetic! And for you liberals, go ahead and spread your ideals of mediocrity and toleration towards those to don't want to learn anything. For God's sake, take pride in who you are.

    March 19, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  3. Bots, Seattle

    The democrats don't have any room to talk when they start pointing a finger at McCain. They can't even decide who they want to represent their party! 5 out of 10 want Obama. 5 out of 10 want Clinton. Get the picture? They've spent so much time blasting each other, their attacks on something like what McCain did come across like a popgun. The country has way too many problems right now that are not going to get any better over the next 4-5 years and we certainly don't need either Obama or Clinton in the White House blaming the problems on Bush or anyone else.

    March 19, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  4. Rebecca

    I guess age is an issue afterall. This is the candidate who is running on strong foreign policy credentials!

    Democrats had better find a way to unite or God only knows what will happen to our county.

    Kansas City

    March 19, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  5. TN_Dave

    spd – Hillary's foreign policy experience is in question. She made another misstep (lie) today saying she accompanied Joe Wilson to Africa in 1997 in preparation for Pres. Clinton trip. That was a lie, she did not accompany him she had accompanied Dr. Susan Rice, So with McCain lack of memory or expertise on the subject and Hillary's lying on her foreign policy experience that leaves only one candidate for the next POTUS and his name is Barack Obama.

    March 19, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  6. Texas123

    Mccain Doesn't even know what he's talking about. He cant even get a statement right without somebody telling him he has mad a wrong statement and tell him the right words to say, he is just to old. and iran is not aiding iraq, iran and iraq hate eachother.

    March 19, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  7. Judd

    this isn't a simple "momentary verbal gaffe". he's made this mistake before. it's a sign that he doesn't understand world issues, and that he doesn't understand the situation in the middle east. sounds a lot like the failed politics of the bush administration. when a guy jokingly sings "bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb iran" and then mistakenly states why he sees iran as a threat i get a bit scared. don't you hawks remember the whole wmd mishap. vote obama. vote for real change for america.

    March 19, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  8. gregor samsa

    How is this an "apparent" gaffe? It's obvious from the context that he has no idea what he is talking about. It's not a slip of the tongue or a "momentary lapse." It's complete ignorance of the issues in Iraq.

    March 19, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  9. Obama Supporter

    Wow!! Bush and McCain seem to be more of the same every day. And this is the person you want as a successor to Mr. "Nucular". LOL.

    March 19, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  10. Ryan

    Americans often have misconceptions about the Middle East, the War on Terror, and the War on Iraq. I do not expect the average person to be an expert on these things, but someone who wants to be Commander in Chief should. This sends a horrible message that someone like McCain would make false statements about Iran and Al-Qaeda and reminds me of Bush and the lies that brought us into Iraq in the first place.

    March 19, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  11. David

    Why dont we focus on a bigger issue than a few misspoken words, like for instance, the fact that Obama isnt really a Christian and he denounced the Christian minister? Or the fact that if he was white, he wouldnt be where he is right now?

    March 19, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  12. Dave

    McCAIN WASN'T WRONG. I'm tired of all you people saying McCain doesn't know what he's talking about!!! You probably also think there were no WMDs in Iraq, or that Saddam wasn't linked to 9-11. Well there were, and he was!!!

    Wait, Joe Lieberman just whispered in my ear. My bad. I was wrong about that. Sorry.

    March 19, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  13. Suman Jandhyala

    This just a "momentary verbal gaffe"; it was repeated and shows a clear misunderstanding of the facts of the situation.

    March 19, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  14. Sheriff Bart

    We the people need to be able to trust that our leaders to have a very good grasp of world affairs. I didn't know that the Sunni's dominated Al-Qaeda but I expect our presidential candidates to know this type of information, especially if they are supporting a war against Al-Qaeda and are making accusations about a neighboring country supporting them!

    This is not a verbal gaffe, this is ignorance and it"s a huge issue!

    March 19, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  15. Paul

    Norm Deplume, this far from just a 'momentary verbal gaffe'. This personifies everything that is wrong with American foreign policy. After five years of a disastrous war, 4000 American lives and trillions of dollars, the biggest supporter of the war outside the Bush White House cannot even differentiate between a Sunni Al Qaeda and a Shia Iran?? This is the same know-it-all platitude-mouthing group that is ready to go to war and kill a million more people to usher in their version of utopia, but apparently considers such fundamental facts to be irritating distractions.
    America needs to grow out of its obsession with war and war-heroes.

    March 19, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  16. Pat Va

    To: Nom Deplume, J.D., LL.M.

    Granted, Senator McCain has given of himself to this country as a Vietnam vet...HOWEVER, he simply cannot appear on the world stage and make these types of mistakes!!!! Do you not realize that WARS have been started for much less??? Dust off your history book...READ and LEARN!!!

    By the way. eloquence accompanied with intelligence = LEADERSHIP!!! Need I say more???

    March 19, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  17. mike

    i was considering voting for mc cain in leiu of the other 1/2 's lack of exp and constant dodging on this issue, now after seeing mr rumsfeld in action, oops i mean mr mc cain, i may just stay on this side of the party line...

    March 19, 2008 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  18. deidre

    What an ackward photo, showing his hands folded. He looks very uncomfortable. Body language experts- what does this mean?

    March 19, 2008 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  19. Beth, Seattle WA

    I would be tempted to think this was just a verbal misstep if the article hadn't pointed out that McCain made the same mistake twice. I respect how the guy has served our country, but I don't feel comfortable about him suggesting war with Iran and not doing all the research first. The U.S. needs to get to know its enemies a lot better than it does now.

    March 19, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  20. copperheadrow

    Maybe they were right. When just a few years ago, members of his own party were saying he was unbalanced because of his time as a pow.

    March 19, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  21. melvin

    McCain is a brave man however he is old and is starting to lose his memory. all we need is a president that wets him self during the state of the union address. Hillary support have to stop bashing obama and Obama lovers have to stop hating hillary and unity together

    Dems 08

    March 19, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  22. Herb Safford

    Any Democrat or Independent thinking of "crossing over" to vote for Senator McCain should consider the photograph of Joe Lieberman standing to John's right and one step back. If that isn't a stopper, you deserve what you get.

    March 19, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  23. Jay Gershbein

    McCain toughness has never been in doubt! He can take all of your criticism. He is a seasoned political veteran. He has actual experience unlike Hillary who was just the First Lady and Obama who was...well doing something I guess. Hillary is talking out of both sides of her mouth and Obama is a dreamer. Get Real, Get Experience, Get John McCain for President.

    March 19, 2008 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  24. Moe, NY

    It appears that McSame wants a war with Iran (obviously the Iraq and Afghan wars are not enough for him!) so badly that he is either making up excuses to attack or perhaps he really has a memory problem. Whatever the case, this man is not presidential material. His time has come and gone. Besides, anyone who would sing..."bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran" should not be taken seriously as a canidate for president. I am afraid this man could do a lot of damage, just like our present president. I, personally, have no desire to see another Republican in the White House...enough is enough! A vote for McSame is a vote for continuing the Bush administration policies.

    March 19, 2008 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  25. Alan

    So what, He misspoke, I'm not a Republican, but geez... We can admit the Guy IS an expert on Foreign Affairs etc. We wont beat him that way, he knows little about the economy or health care, attack with that.

    March 19, 2008 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
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