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. Jimmy

    Obama's church hates Whites,

    Well I do not like Obama

    I did have him on my ticket but not no more

    Clinton\Edwards 2008 or even
    Clinton\Richardson 2008

    I and a whole bunch more will deflect to the Republicans if Obama wins the primary

    March 19, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  2. Lee, Boston, MA

    Methinks someone is too proud of his supposed degrees to know what "momentary verbal gaffe" means.

    March 19, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  3. Alan

    Daniel, McCain is VERY different to Bush, and we shouldn't underestimate him, Democrats need to get their act together!

    March 19, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  4. Ian

    a momentary verbal gaffe? please tell me you're not serious. McCain is such a warmonger that he actually believes those things and would say anything about Islamic nations to justify the use of military force. McCain's speeches are built upon him using the words "radical islamic jihadists." I for one am sick of the politics of fear that embody GWs presidency.

    March 19, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  5. mimi de la cruz for OBAMA


    March 19, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  6. RandyT, Denton, TX

    spd – you make a good point, we should all remember that Bush had made one trip to Israel on his own before being given the office of the president – see what that lack of travel did to us....heck he thought Iraq was a suburb of Mexico City.

    Norm Deplume – "momentary verbal gaffe" – guy admits knowing nothing about the economy – wants to stay at war in Iraq for a 100 years – has been briefed at least a few dozen if not hundreds of times on WHO Al-Qaeda is and he can't remember – no wonder he got shot down in Vietnam – at least Shrub was smart enough to get a sissy-no-go-to-Vietnam-son-of-rich-man Texas Air Guard slot....

    March 19, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  7. Big Dave

    The DNC needs to worry about its own problems in its decision to not count Florida and Michigan and not let the candidates even campaign there. At least the RNC was smart enough to give Florida and Michigan half of its delegates and allow the candidates to campaign in those states.

    And this McCain = Bush 3rd term montra that the Dems are going to push is ridiculous. He has always had an independent streak. Why do think the establishment was so upset ealier this year?

    My hope is that the DNC will once again shoot itself in the foot and try to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates and then the superdelegates vote Hillary which will leave the Obama supporters feeling like the election was taken from them and they will sit out come Nov.

    March 19, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  8. SimonBoyarNYC

    I think John needs to be fed and changed regularly. It's important to take care of the elderly.

    March 19, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  9. Gene

    You people are pathetic. You Dems will jump on anything about McCain to take attention off your HUGE PROBLEM... TWO LOSERS as candidates.

    March 19, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  10. OBAMA 08


    March 19, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  11. Vikki

    This Church news is so out of hand why keep talking about it
    you are causing people to turning against Barack Obama
    STOP JUDGING BARACK OBAMA. the Bible says you
    should not judge (read it)

    Why are people judging him and What has Obama done to the
    people of the United States enough is enough

    March 19, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  12. Jackson

    He "eloquently" stepped in it!

    March 19, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  13. Rave

    McCain and everyone supporting the war need to take their heads out from where every they are rested and think for a while... could that money spent help a poor guy, a college grad, a school, an old couple in our own country?
    Republicans or Democrats supporting this war, didn't you see enough disaster in the last 5 years? Who cares if Iraq becomes democratic or phsycopathic? There are probably a hundred countries in this world like Iraq.. Ex: our allies Saudi and Pakistan. Are we going to run around treating these phsycos, when our own economy is taking a dump?
    Please think for a while, this is not about politics. Stop the disaster going on and stand together to make our own land a stronger, safer place to live.

    March 19, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  14. Cynthia L.A.

    How could he make such a mistake? This is the more presidential candidate? Even Hillary won't make that kind of error. Does he know what country he is in? He should be careful over there; he may end up on the wrong side of the divide.

    March 19, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  15. bdc

    "us vs. 'all the bad guys'" is too simplistic a world view to successfully navigate foreign policy in the middle east.

    He's repeatedly gotten this wrong and doesn't seem interested in learning why much of the violence happens and who's doing it.

    March 19, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  16. Dave-o, Honolulu HI

    What a nitwit!!! He's still spewing the Republican BS that got us into this ill advised war from the beginning!!! He's just more of the same old song and dance.

    March 19, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  17. David

    Go Joe Lieberman! Although the discussion I want to discuss is closed! All I have to say Obama got smoked out (period)!

    March 19, 2008 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  18. Ryan

    "Geez, that all the Dems have to talk about, a momentary verbal gaffe?"

    Yes, a "momentary" verbal gaffe that, as the article you're commenting on shows, he has made repeatedly, and bears a striking resemblance to the Bush administration's insistence in 2002-2003 that Iraq was working hand-in-hand with Al Qaeda. Remember where that got us?

    March 19, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  19. Josh

    I see no difference between extremists and al Qaeda. Chance are that Iran is aiding both.

    March 19, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  20. jlunz

    Obama will not be the pres or the vp he has more in his closet to come out before the vote, Hillary will be pres.

    March 19, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  21. Patrick

    He is just going to say what he thinks American people want to hear. To bad no one wants to hear him falsely accuse a country for harboring people they are not.

    March 19, 2008 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  22. Josh

    What kind of judgment. Planning to wage another war against Iran.

    Obama 08

    March 19, 2008 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  23. Elix

    Sen McCain's gaffe shows one thing: the obsessed idea of AlQaida in their minds. He and his war-ready friends sleep and wake with the idea that Saddam was an AlQaida operative. They think by keeping it 24h in their heads the fallacy will materialize. It was not a gaffe. It is how they think. They call every extremist AlQaida. Why? To create fear. Why create fear? Americans vote by fear and through fear. This is why no success is coming out from Iraq.

    March 19, 2008 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  24. Peter

    isnt this a result of an aging memory? just my 2 cents

    March 19, 2008 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  25. Jeff, Denver, CO

    The funny thing is – people will still vote for this guy. YIkes.

    March 19, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
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