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. Naz

    Johnno I agree with you,


    McWar ...

    March 19, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  2. SPQR753

    After a unwarranted and utterly useless war in IRAQ, which caused Al-Quaeda to grow there (when before they were NOT there) and after allowing the Taliban to re-surge in AFGANISTAN (what ought to have been the REAL and ONLY target) America is tired of an ignorant, inefficient and bungling Bush Administration.

    I do not think that a disastrous Presidency that lasted for almost EIGHT LONG years, should be followed by another administration headed by a SENILE carbon copy of G.W. Bush.

    Wake up Republicans! You are facing the ABYSS!!!!

    March 19, 2008 07:18 am at 7:18 am |





    March 19, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  4. True Grits

    OK, so Joe Lieberman switched to Independent when the DNC ran a Democrat against him when he was up for re-election...but the photo op with McCain in Jordan??? Aside from a slightly different pattern of tie, he's the spitting image of McCain.

    Do the people of Connecticut realize what they've done? Or are they comfortable re-electing someone who says he's a Democrat and then says he's an Independent, but hangs with the Republicans???

    What looks like a Republican, acts like a Republican, votes like a Republican. Doesn't he have the courage to just come out and switch to what amounts to his true allegiance? Hey, as much as he flip-flops on party affiliation, maybe he'd like to be Veep so bad he's maneuvering himself to be McCain's wingman! That'd be a dream ticket of sorts...until they flip-flopped again.

    March 19, 2008 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  5. Jen

    Remember he is 72.

    March 19, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  6. Karen P

    I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, everyone makes a "blooper" sometime in his/her life. But, this is Iraq and Iran...very touchy subjects. A blooper like this might make other nations question McCain's word, let alone in the U.S.

    This only shows me that McCain is as "obsessed" about Iraq as Bush is and has been. In my eyes, Bush and Cheney were fighting Iraq, not for terrorism, but to finish a job that they forgot to do during Desert Storm war.

    Terrorism is like fighting crime in a big city. It's great that cities reduce crime, but it will never 100% go away, just like terrorism will never go away. I remember much the same thing about communism back in the 60s. It never went away either...just lies sleeping and waiting for another "good time" to emerge. We can create safeguards, but realistically, it just "ain't gonna go away".

    I've been concerned about Bush's obsession about Iraq for several years now...always worried that Bush was abandoning our own country and it's come true and biting us in the butt.

    Our next president just can't let our own people down for the sake of "saving face" in Iraq. Al Quaida and terrorism I can understand fighting and it takes the whole world to fight it. But I have no beef with the Iraqi people who have a greatly different culture than ours.

    March 19, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  7. Joan Wheeler

    Dear God, not another out of touch, incompetent Republican. Haven't we had enough of that? Don't we deserve better?

    March 19, 2008 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  8. James

    Few seem to mention the hopeless and corrupt Iraqi "Coalition Government" who are dragging their feet forming a nation of laws, working out an oil sharing plan among their factions, etc. What do we expect when we have pretty much told them that we will stay in Iraq forever? No rush, boys. Take your time. Fight your ancient, petty fights.
    We'll just hold the streets for you. Don't worry about the money and casualties.

    We are being played as suckers by a people who don't seem to really want an all-inclusive democracy all that badly.

    March 19, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  9. Festus Lartey

    I thought americans were choosing something different from the war, war Bush years so as to win our trust and respect. with McCain will the world of strife be the same.

    March 19, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  10. Voice of Reason

    McCain had it right, Iran is aiding Al Qaeda... and Hamas... and Hezbollah... and every major terrorist organization in the Middle East. Iran's goal is to cause havoc in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East to further their radical Islamist agenda. They will aid any anti-US terrorist group whether Sunni or Shia. Mc Cain should not have taken back what he said.
    The Dems have it wrong, we are winning and we will win in Iraq.

    March 19, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  11. david

    McCain seems to confuse easily and might just be past his own prime to fill the office of POTUS. For his age, he presents and speaks as if he is about 15 years older than his real age.

    March 19, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  12. Nick Vroman

    Helo, I'am from Europe and I really don't understand how you could make such a mistake, this proves once again that Americans know nothing of the world, very sad...

    March 19, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  13. Ray

    Of course we can always go with the Obama/Clinton plan of immediate surrender...oops I mean "withdrawal".

    The reality is that both Dems are telling their far-left base what they want to hear...i.e. Hillary saying she'll have troops out in 60 days...but will never follow-through on their promise. They'll just say, "Hey, it was Bush's fault and I can't do what I told you I was going to do...sorry"

    Dems believe everything is someone's falut. The words "personal responsibility" never enter their minds or come out of their mouths. It's always the "man" keeping them down.

    Clinton/Obama are spouting off constantly about the evils of big oil, big pharma, corproate america...blah, blah, blah. Their plan is to raise taxes on the "rich" (which if you believe they'll stop there you really are delusional) by hundreds of billions of dollars. That's real smart...raise taxes when the economy slows. Of course they'll just blame Bush for their own idiotic ideas.

    Nice speech yesterday too Obama. It was good to see you throw your grandmother under the bus for your own lack of courage. Why don't you ask your white mother and grandmother if they would feel welcome sitting in the pew at that racist church you have attended for20+ years.

    McCain wins 40 states.

    March 19, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  14. Observer


    He put his foot in his mouth.

    March 19, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  15. ConservativeGal84

    ".....or is willing to ignore the facts on the ground."
    And this is from the same people who are ignoring the facts that if you just pull out of Iraq then there will be civil war cause there is no one to help keep the order. The security forces for Iraq are getting better but not good enough yet to stop an uprising once the troops pullout. The Dems are weak when it comes to war or the military. I would rather trust a military man like John McCain, who has served his country and fought for it. He is the only one running with that kind of experience and he has been tested with the worst conditions. Bush commands the military but he was no soldier, well at least not the kind that saw war.

    The Dems have a lot to say about little slips of the tongue. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." is one that I remember oh but wait that was just a flat out lie to the American people.

    Hillary visited all those countries as a First Lady not a real power force. And a lot of those countries have a problem with a woman as a president especially in the Middle East. A woman being a president goes against not only the society but against Islam.

    March 19, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  16. Bryan, Scranton PA

    My grad school advisor said it best: "Vote for McCain and the Beach Boys will start singing Bom Bom Bom...Bom Bom..IRAN..."

    McCain had unbelievable 2000 when he was against everything that Bush stood for. Then Bush won and... anybody? Anybody? He became like every other Republican...a traitor to America (PS, I am not a Dem)

    March 19, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  17. ever

    why is he in iraq again?150000 iraqs dead 4000 americans dead 3trillion spent put america in an economic mess and he thinks it worth all these lives for just one bad guy! saddam ?how delusional is he ? iraq is worse off now than befor pls send another 12 billion when people in the u.s are loosing their house and living in tents?

    March 19, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  18. Neil

    This isn't a verbal gaffe. This is being a complete idiot. With blunders like this, Democrats will have no problem winning back the White House.

    March 19, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  19. michael


    March 19, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  20. David S

    McCain like most americans does not know the difference between a Shia or a Sunni. Let me help Saudi Arabia = Sunni....... Iran = Shia......Iraq = both. Both Muslim sects do not like the U.S. (non Muslim) in the region. Remove the U.S. troops and bases and let Saudia Arabia an Iran fight it out for Iraq. That would also take the wind out of the extremists and Al Quaidas sails since they only exist because the U. S. is based in the region. With the U.S, out Terrorism is essentially eliminated. Why know one seems to grasp this is unbelievable. The U.S should stay out of where they are not wanted.......but know one learned from Vietnam. You'd think POW McCain would have figured it out but he is to busy singing "bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran".......idiot!!!!

    March 19, 2008 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  21. CES

    McCain = More of the same – our country doesn't WANT change – we NEED change

    March 19, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  22. Jean, Indiana

    Iranians are training the boogeymen. Doesn't matter what you call them, just boogeymen so we'll have an excuse to invade Iran.

    Get your boogeymen straight, McCain, or you'll blow the cover.

    March 19, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  23. William

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

    If eloquence were the measure of leadership, my debate instructor should be president."

    He falls right in line with the present idiot president.

    Bush, McCain = McSame.

    Go Hillary 08!!

    March 19, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  24. McCain found out - Good bye!

    "Those protestant IRA extremists..." This is in effect what McCain said. Not once but twice. Once more, how can you trust his judgement on this basis? Seriously.

    March 19, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  25. Doug

    Y'know, McCain probably would have had my vote were it not for his stance on the war. Not only does he seem to want to drag out the Iraq conflict, but now he is sounding like he's gearing up to go after Iran too.

    I never fully realized what the term "warmonger" meant until GW's reign of terror. I suppose I should be greatful to Bush for teaching me to be very careful and critical of our leaders, as they may gleefully lead the country to economic ruin for no greater reason than to fight an unnecessary war.

    March 19, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30