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. sickening

    CNN: when it is convenient you post about 600 comments, when it is not, you post about 20 and sometimes 60.

    Where is my post of about 30 minutes ago????????

    About this iodiot:
    Nom Deplume, J.D., LL.M. March 18th, 2008 6:54 pm ET

    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.

    Thank you! you didn´t say mctrash should be president, and he won´t.........

    March 19, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  2. Tim, Cincinnati, OH

    You call that a gaffe? Cut the guy a break.

    March 19, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  3. 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 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  4. carrie,detroit

    im not republican but pls cut the guy some slack.he is human and makes mistakes.important thing is he corrected himself.
    why dont u pick on all the mistakes,lies and statements by hillary?thats a major story.

    March 19, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  5. Amy

    It seems to me that this was a Freudian slip, if not done on purpose. The warmongers have relied so much on fear tactics. They use "Al Quaida" every chance they get to keep instilling that fear into the people of United States. They used it as a link to Saddam Hussein, and therefore a "reason" to go to war. They and the media continue to blame almost all violence in Iraq on "Al Quaida" because they believe it will keep people scared enough to think we should stay there forever (or at least for the next hundred years) to fight them. It's just more of the same from the lying neoCON artists.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for a third term for president Bush and all the misery that presidency has wrought.

    March 19, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  6. Henry from Orlando

    Sorry Norm, but this is not a momentrary gaffe, there will be more and its ok if he is a senator but our country can not afford to have these gaffes from a president. He is too old, too short tempered and too inflexiable to be a good president.

    March 19, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  7. NEIM

    I say this with a rather good sense of certainty... If John McCain is elected President we will enter into a 3rd World War. That would not be good for our Country or our World.

    Vote Obama

    March 19, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  8. Kim

    Dementia is already setting in.

    March 19, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  9. Harrison

    Training Al Qaeda or training extremists -what is the difference? It is the same thing to me-they are both the enemy. What is the big deal???

    Media acts as though they are experts on every issue in the world.

    McCain knows more about the middle east situation then a bucket full of so-called "reporters" and journalists.

    March 19, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  10. pj4521

    After 8 years of a president who can't spell cat or pronounce nuclear, it would be nice if the next commander in chief could find Iran on a map.

    March 19, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  11. Mark

    SPD says,
    "One of the reasons Hillary should be and will be the next President of the United States. She has world experience. She's been to 80 countries".
    How simplistic thinking is that. Why not just make our next President an airline pilot then. Just because Hillary makes a photo ops tour and shakes a few hands in Jordan does not make her an athority on world affairs. You people scare me.

    March 19, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  12. James

    What is wrong with McCains arms? He can barely raise them above his waist. He looks like a bird with a couple of broken wings.

    March 19, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  13. Rick

    A MOMENTARY VERBAL GAFFE? IT IS THAT KIND OF SCREW UPS THAT CAN CAUSE THIS GREAT NATION TO FALL IN DEFEAT. YOU HAVE TO BE SHARPER THAN THAT TO LEQD A COUNTRY, YOU MUST FIRST THINK, THEN SPEAK. IF YOU DO IT IN THAT ORDER YOU ARE BOUND TO SCREW IT UP AND A MOMENTARY GAFFE COULD PUT US AT WAR WITH YET ANOTHER TERRORIST COUNTRY. YOU AND I CAN GET AWAY WITH YOUR SO CALLED MOMENTARY VERBAL GAFFE BUT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CAN NOT AFFORD TO SCREW UP, AND THAT IS WHAT McWAR IS, A HUGE SCREW UP.

    March 19, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  14. PJ

    McCain makes a gaffe and, meanwhile, Barack Obama's star is fading because he only managed to attend a racist anti-american church for the last 20 years. Which is worse? A slip of the tongue (although Iran is a supporter of terrorism) or Barack's unconvincing confession?

    March 19, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  15. kamenwati

    The McCain Senile Express coming to a city near you. The country went through one Alzheimer's presidency, we cannot afford another, especially when we're in the middle of a war.

    March 19, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  16. Bubba

    I'm afraid McCain has issues about people from other cultures. He's still twitchy about Asians; see any working for his campaign? I guess any Arab or Persian extremist is an "al-Qaeda" to him.

    March 19, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  17. Joan

    This is just pure evidence that they are just making this stuff up as they go along.

    March 19, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  18. Stan

    This is a non-issue. The bottom line is that both al Qaeda and Iranian-backed Shiite terrorists are a threat to our country. The Dems are always looking for some irrelevant sound bite to try to shift the focus away from their inferior and inept candidates.

    Thank God for John McCain.

    March 19, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  19. Jason

    If you thought the 3AM ad was rough, wait until you see the one with "young Hillary" living it up at Woodstock while "young John" is getting tortured in the POW camp. I believe I'd "cede" the commander in chief argument to McCain and move on.

    March 19, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  20. Obama 08

    This just prove that the GOP Nominee doesn't know his a*s from his appetite...yet, he wants to be the leader of the free world? You can't make this stuff up...

    March 19, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  21. vicki

    If the polls cntinue to say

    Obama will bring about change 56%

    Obama can work with both parties 65%

    americans would we be proud to have him as president 62 %

    Why does the media insist on potraying him so poorly . Hillary wouldn't be still in this race if it weren't for her favorable media coverage. When will the Media ask Hillary the tuff questions .Pa should know that He is still the FRONT runner Not her. the media rarely ever mentions THIS FACT Where's Chuch Todd to give us the new numbers now that Florida Michigans aren't going to revote..

    March 19, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  22. JJ, PA (Independent)

    There's no amount of specious sophistry that can rationalize or erase the revolting image of Obama's fellow churchgoers rejoicing in obvious approval and exultation at Mr. Wright's rant that 9/11 was a case of "America's chickens coming home to roost" (a phrase cribbed, by the way, from Malcolm X's press conference on the Vietnam War in the 60s).

    This was the Sunday after the 9/11 attacks, you have to remember, when everyone I knew, regardless of their political, cultural or social differences and divisions, came together in recognition of one another's humanity and to share in common grief.

    I cannot fathom a mind that would take that Sunday, or any Sunday for that matter, to plunge to the subhuman depths to indulge in malicious joy in the face of unspeakable suffering and loss by their fellow countrymen and their neighbors.

    What separates Obama's fellow churchgoers, whooping it up and high-fiving each other at the thought of those victims getting their just retribution for America's "sins" from the murderous Muslim radicals who swarmed the streets of Afghanistan or Iraq in jubilation when the Twin Towers collapsed in a flaming heap with thousands trapped inside?

    And was Obama and his family not present for that sermon as well?? How convenient . . . On a day when even agnostic Americans found it necessary to seek out their nearest places of worship??

    The thought that if Obama should become President, the likes of Mr. Wright would be advising him on matters of the soul is truly chilling. Thankfully, now that we know him by the company he keeps and will continue to keep, Obama's chances of getting anywhere near the White House is practically nil.

    March 19, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  23. Independent in IA

    Since they're ALL bad guys, the gaffe isn't that important...what really matters is that McCain has NO exit strategy and PLANS for an exit strategy. It is his intention to turn Iraq into another base of operations like Japan, Germany, Cuba, and Italy, where we have engaged in wars that lasted less time than this one.

    March 19, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  24. Jason

    Does the DNC not have anything better then a simple gaffe like this? How about Barak Hussein Obama's wife commenting about "For the first time in my life, I am proud to be an American?", or Barak's involvement with Tony Riasko? Or how about Hillary's tax records? The DNC has enough on their plate with choosing their own candidate then going after McCain on a simple error...

    March 19, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  25. KS

    Norm, it wasn't a verbal gaffe and you know it. This is a candidate who's primary – and, perhaps only – selling point is his foreign policy expertise and experience. It was a revealing moment – and instructive to anyone who might be entertaining the illusion that McCain has a superior command of foreign policy.

    March 19, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 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