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. Karl

    What do you expect from a completely insane delusional person?

    March 19, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  2. 911willie

    Gotcha John McCain its Hamas the Iranians support, not al qaeda. . Gotcha Barack Obama when you were going to bomb Pakistan or didn't know Canada didn't have a President. Gotcha Hillary Clinton whenn she didn't know the new Russian Premiere Medvedev.

    March 19, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  3. edmond

    boy those three look like the three stooges,wasting tax payers money for there own political gains,what a mess

    March 19, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  4. Aleklawyer

    Attacking John McCain will not work. And the last thing Democrats should be doing is antagonizing Joe Lieberman. Both men rightly supported a war based on erroneous intelligence. What if Saddam had WMD's, and he had joined forces with Al Qaeda? 'Tis a pity that Hillary caved in and had to publicly renounce her vote for the war resolution. Hindsight is 20/20. As for Obama, does anyone believe that he sat in the pews of Rev. Wright's church for 20 years and never heard the vitriol? What a myth.
    Having said all that, Hillary Clinton remains the best qualified candidate to take over Bush's failed presidency.

    March 19, 2008 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  5. Vote Obama

    Years of experience didn't do much for Mc Cains' ability to understand the role of Iran, Iraq and Al Queda!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  6. Does It Matter

    Oy vey!

    !!!! Obama '09 !!!!

    March 19, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  7. DEM

    Do this guy know where he's at? and why is he repeating him self?

    McCain , reminds me of Reagan he lost his memory too.

    We elected hime to president..

    Good man

    March 19, 2008 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  8. Klemn

    What would expect from Senator Senile?

    March 19, 2008 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  9. Wink

    Hey Nom:

    It wasn't a momentary verbal gaffe. He said it at least twice, according to the article.

    Just what we need, a president that looks at the middle east and thinks.. "they're all the same." Because, you know, racism is always a great pretext to foreign policy.

    March 19, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  10. John Karsten

    In the words of Ozzy, this guy is a true WAR PIG!!!!!

    FREE TIBET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  11. Fred Hermans, NJ

    Here is another reason the Dem's are doomed. This is all they have to offer on a discussion on Iran and our security! Day after day we hear of this Dem taking up with hookers, another cheating on his spouse and so on and so on. The Dems offer racial division and poor judgment on one side and a woman who would sell her soul to the devil for the White House instead of standing up to an abusive husband on the other.

    Some choice. Make one want to puke!

    March 19, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  12. kevin

    To all those who say its a momentary gaffe, its a game that both parties play. If Clinton or Obama messes up and says something stupid, the conservative pundits will bounce on both of them.

    However, this gaffe will have very little impact on the core group of individuals both parties aim for. People who are for the war or do not see anything wrong with it, will not see a problem with this statement; and those who are against the war will start jumping heads. Nothing will change, America will still be fighting with one another and nothing will get accomplished that is important.

    March 19, 2008 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  13. Sam

    Mr. McCain is not different from Mr. Bush, we hope, there won't be another Mr. Bush in the whitehouse.

    March 19, 2008 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  14. John

    When is Lieberman going to put on his uniform. he wants to invade all these countries, stay in iraq. go into Iran.
    Where are they going to get all the people to do it?
    Or the money.
    Where is Joe's uniform!

    March 19, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  15. Jordan

    I think McCain is just getting things jumbled together inside his head...poor guy. And yes I agree Hillary and Barack need to run together but with Hillary as the President, the Vice President needs to be the younger one who can succeed the President. DEMOCRATS we have an amazing opportunity to have two great political leaders be our President, they can both do it, and two Democratic Presidents in a row for 16 years is what our country seriously needs! This is our opportunity to make our country GREAT, these are the only two who both have a shot and can both do it, let them both have a chance! CLINTON-OBAMA 2008!!!!

    March 19, 2008 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  16. ron

    this is all you got...grasping at straws i see

    March 19, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  17. Two time Iraq vet

    Its ok... just a senior moment! After all its only a war that has killed 4,000 Americans (more than the terrorists on 9/11, now tell me who is worse), he doesn't need to get every little detail right...

    I like a lot of things about McCain, but his stance on Iraq is about the polar opposite of my own.

    March 19, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  18. E. Elliott, Orlando, FL

    McCain was a good man. The trials of his life have taken too much from him and he is burnt out. He would have been a good choice in 2000 when he was swiftboated by his buddy W and handlers. Now he is just too old, confused and running on toughness. That call at 3AM? They could not wake him up let alone get any clear instructions. And if it were an economic issue at 3 pm, he still would not have a clue. If a Democrat made this blunder the wing nuts would be all over them, but some how it is ok for the grand old man? Nope. Wrong in war, wrong in peace and wrong in bed mates (W). Please John, just stay in the Senate.

    March 19, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  19. Frank tulsa, ok

    I may not vote for him but I like McCain, for the most part, and I don't think this misstep was one of ignorance b/c I believe he knew the truth as he was speaking. However, it glares of Reagan's latter years when he started suffering from Alzheimers. This should be of big concern to everyone on the Republican side..... he's way too old. His campaign will hinge on the VP slot.

    March 19, 2008 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  20. Emma H.

    No – eloquence is not the measure of leadership. But it is ususally indicative of intelligence.

    However, McCain did not misspeak. His comments reflect his grave misunderstanding of the region and our conflict with it.

    March 19, 2008 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  21. Danny

    He didn't just misspoke, he literally got the facts wrong not once but also during a radio interviews. Ask any general, getting the facts incorrect even if you just fumble on a few words can be fatal. McSenile has no chance of becoming the next president.

    March 19, 2008 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  22. Dave near Buffalo NY

    Maybe the journalists have it wrong. Iran could very well support anyone who would create chaos and kill our soldiers, those two issues being more important than any religious differences that exist, while letting their puppet president pretend as though they want to be Iraq's friend....their version of Iraq, of course.

    March 19, 2008 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  23. Emily Coletta from ny

    McCain needs his old people meds. He's forgetting where he is.

    March 19, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  24. Joey of Tampa

    It's become clearly obvious that the current Republican administration, including their flunky John McCain, will try and tie "al Qaeda" and "Terrorism" to just about any issue in an effort to instill fear in the American public in order to achieve the Republican agenda After 7 years, this method is getting old and is past played out. Save the "leading by fear" for the churches (if you don't do what we say then you're going to Hell) and keep it out of government politics (If we don't do what we say... Terrorist, al Qaeda, Terrorists, Terrorists).

    Republicans go away, the American people are sick of your lies and mind-games.

    March 19, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  25. Johnny

    Republicans, what now? It has not escped the american people's attention that your party does not have an agenda. Your candidate seems to be just happy to be here ( the presumed republican nominee with all this foreign policy experience out of the country which by the way is far worse in the minds of us common folk than we were 7.5 years ago) he's making our case for us that the focus needs to be on us. Your party has lost touch with the common man and you have selective memory about what makes america great. Obama 08!

    March 19, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
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