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. Uncle Sam

    Personally, I am not looking for a flawless candidate. I am looking for the best candidate. President Mccain '08

    March 19, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  2. Doug R.

    This man doesn't understand the relationship between al-Qaeda, the Sunni's and the Shiite's. He also doesn't understand basic economics. He's a scary person. He's all about war and photo opps and himself.

    March 19, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  3. HEY!!

    These are the same types of mistakes Bush made when he 1st started running for President.

    America has paid heavily for not being critical of those revealing gaffes. McCain is such a war-monger he's got tunnel vision.

    The republicans have become so programmed to scare the American people with the threat of Alqaeda. Talk about the ultimate Manchurian Candidate!

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

    Wow he made a mistake while speaking, no one ever does that. He is the only canidate with the experience we need now in this country, able to make sound executive decisions, and the only one with economically sound plans for healthcare and the economy that fall in line with free competitive markets. He's also not being a protectionist. Maybe if he takes the presidency he should hire obama to be he official speaker since that is all obama can intelligently do3a give speeches.

    March 19, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  5. BKW

    What's amazing is that somehow this is news. McCain has repeatedly shown his lack of understanding for this area of the world. We've endured enough "cowboy justice." Let this guy fade into the sunset–with his sidekick Joe Lieberman ridin' shotgun.

    March 19, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  6. Louie

    Sure – Let's let the Dems take advantage of the situation by RAISING TAXES, pulling out the troops in the first 60 days, and socializing our healthcare system. That will fix everything.

    March 19, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  7. Jose'

    Neither Clinton, or Obama has any business criticizing McCain.

    He has the experience this country needs, not just slogans and soundbites.

    McCain '08

    March 19, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  8. Deb

    McCain is old now and getting older. His comment reflects a mind not as sharp as it used to be. That is common in the elderly. He can't help it.

    March 19, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  9. Mike

    We can not stand another 4 years of Bush policy from Mr. Lobbyist. He's made a deal with the devil to ignore past executive issues that would land Bush in jail. Repubs will do anything to keep in power so they can sweep these issues under the rug.

    March 19, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  10. Felton.."from around the way" always...returning to the scene of the CRIME!!

    March 19, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  11. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It is bound to happen that there would be some screw up about the players. I would wonder how often he does this though. If it become an increacing problem, then there needs to be some serious thought as to his ablity to lead. He might still command respect, but could he give the orders that he really wanted to give? That is the real question.

    March 19, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  12. Millicent

    Well, there's always Nobama – the black/white/Christian/Muslim/ candidate who has a face for every occasion.

    March 19, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  13. byrdlegs

    Aren't these comments just great? A soon to be 72 year senile old man, who has anger management issues and suffers 100% from Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Does it get any better than this? An American's cant seem to figure out what is wrong with this country. Both McNuts and Hillary should step aside and allow us to proceed forward with some fresh ideas and have this country led by someone with intelligence. Go Bam_Bam Obama.

    March 19, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  14. Craig- Easton, PA

    Come off it. I'm not a a McCain supporter and don't agree with him on Iraq, but this garbage makes the DNC look petty and ignorant. Which is fine, but then it impacts on your two candidates who aren't either.

    The man misspoke. Who hasn't done that. He corrected the record. If you can't come up with any substantive criticisms of his policies, of which there are a host to choose from, then do us a favor and shut up.

    March 19, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  15. Sehli

    Can't you idiots see that Joe Liberman wants to be McCains vice president?

    March 19, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  16. Tony

    To everyone: I'll be away for a few months, I'm searching for the perfect candidate. Here's who I'm looking for: A tall, semi-attractive, multi-racial, bilingual, gay, female, 48-55, from a two-parent lower income household in the Midwest, who is Ivy League educated, has at least 10 yrs political experience on a national level, attends a non-denominational church with traditional Catholic leanings, served in the armed services, was a former military fighter pilot , has two kids and a black lab, a brother who is an NFL linebacker, played softball and was a cheerleader in college, took two years off to travel to 3rd world countries to build irrigation systems and computer networks, has grandparents who farm and didn't have cable, has been romantically involved with the same person since middle school, is an eloquent and overly articulate speaker, smiles alot and likes shoes. Wish me luck, I'm hoping this doesn't take long.

    March 19, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  17. MP

    Of course the dems will jump on his gaff...It's a major gaff and a reflection of how little he really knows...This 'fact finding' trip is just a photo op for his campaign...Now he's an expert on Iran after one day – Same way Bush was an expert on Iraq...The guy's a joke – same as Bush was/is ...They have so much in common...That he has any kind of support in this country is just scary and I hope he continues to make gaffs because people need to realize that this man should be kept as far away from the presidency as possible.

    March 19, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. Cecilia

    It does not matter what McCain knows or does not know about Iran – his thinking can be summed up in his little joke, Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran –
    Please voters – no more funny men, no more war, no more bush think
    Give America a chance – Vote Obama

    March 19, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  19. Mikey, Scottsdale AZ

    Hey SPD...

    Hillary should be President because "she's been to 80 countries" ????

    Do you believe it's EXACTLY 80 ?? Might it have been only 76 or even 83 ??? Might it just be a guess ? Ask her if she can name them .

    Come to think of it ..can you name 80 countries ?

    Next .. Obama is a "racists" (Plural ?).. What does that mean? Where has he excercised that racism on you personally? .

    You are exactly the type of spokesperson that makes it abundantly clear why Hillary's campaign flounders . And its a shame to watch her efforts, and Co-President Billy continue to split our Party for her personal advancement..

    She used Arkansas..she used New York ..and she used Billy . Unfortunately for all of us ... the Republicans are now using her .

    March 19, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  20. John

    Nom Deplume, J.D., LL.M. –

    It's not a verbal gaffe – "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.""

    Gaffes are slips of the tongue – this is a politician trying to scare voters, and he needs to connect everything to al Qaeda – just as Bush and Cheney had to fabricate a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda in 2002.

    March 19, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  21. Miatta

    Nom Deplume, J.D., LL.M. please check your grammar before posting a message. As a lawyer it's a disgrace to our profession. Thanks.

    As of McCains non understanding of the issues in Iran he needs to be updated, not that it will help him win in November.

    Obama 08'

    March 19, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  22. No Macs

    You know, even before he picks up the phone at 3am , in case there is a serious foreign agenda, he already made up his mind to go to WAR. He is a war freak.

    March 19, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  23. Paul NYC

    This is less a gaffe than it is a meeting point between Neocon talking points and McCain's lack of knowledge about the reality based world. I would think the media, at least those people who are true reporters, would question Mr. McCain about his apparent confusion regarding foreign governments. A president might want to know these things a little better before sending the military to Belgium rather than Afghanistan.

    March 19, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  24. Paula

    McCain missspoke?? Maybe but he seems obsessed with Iran and taking a swipe at them as well as holding fast in Iraq.. he loves war.. which is ironic as Viet Nam killed his buddies and left him in an apparent shambles. McCain is a "good man" but seems frail and definately tired.. just want the Repiblicans want anther war monger they can control. I would never piant McCain with the same brush as Bush that would be cruel but this man doesn't have the physical or mental stamina to run a country.. It seems clear to me as a Canadian, stop the war and the economy will pick the money to bring some manufacturing jobs back from china.. use the trillions to save your country instead of killing your young soldiers and meddling in Iraq.. oh and DO NOT VOTE McCain .. paula Canada

    March 19, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  25. CN

    Senile. That's the word that defines it. I wish him the best, but presidency demands a lot of effort and a sharp mind. McCain is slipping a lot. This was not just a verbal gafe, he repeated the same thing on another interview.

    To spd: I have been to 30 countries, does that makes me qualified to be a president? Plus, obviously you did not lose a seccond to trash Obama because of comments made by OTHER person, not him. That's sad... Hillary is still on this race because of people like you, who believe that the only way to win is to trash everybody in your way up. Be positive, believe in change.

    Obama 08

    March 19, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
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