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. Tired of the DNC

    I am sick and tired of the DNC and thier very dirty ways. If they want the democratic nominee to have a chance, they need to SHUT UP!!!

    March 18, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  2. Eugene

    It does not matter... the democrats are already proving how stupid they are. The Hillary people sound like rush in hopes of ripping Obama apart. The blacks and youth will not come out if the election is turned at this point. Obama has come too far at this point. The Hillary people will stay home if Obama wins. We have already lost.
    The democrats are morons. They make GW and McSame look smart.

    March 18, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. hilbonious

    Wait till Obama goes over next month and gives a speech to our men in uniform to show support for our troops , he will probably make a mistake too.... Oh WAIT , thats right he doesn't support our troops and won't show his face in Iraq , but he can preach (sorry about the pun) that he knows the best course in Iraq. Obama , lets see you go live in the real world and spend a week with our troops. Never happen.

    March 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Jim , Burton, MI


    March 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. Don in IN

    Can we at least have a president who will not be continuosly laughed at by the world?

    March 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  6. R Rogers in SC

    While it is clearly a gaffe, we all make mistakes. I think that the reaction says as much if not more about the triviality of the Democrats than it does about McCain.

    March 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. Dan

    The Democrats are so utterly pathetic. They're so desperate to divert attention from Barack Obama's ties to this "black power" church in Chicago that they're reduced to micro-analyzing every syllable from John McCain's mouth, looking for any mis-step so that they can pounce and say "Ah-HA!!!" "GOTCHA!!!" Somehow, I imagine that John McCain knows more about the Middle East than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama put together.

    March 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Wayne from Lawrenceville, ga

    Sounds like Bush all over again!

    March 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. Tully Mars

    Great all we need is another POTUS that doesn't know the difference between even the most basic of elements in the Middle East

    March 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. K. Smith Minneapolis,MN

    Sounds like McCain's old age might be affecting his memory. It doesn't matter anyway, all the republicans want to do is bomb their way into solving(?) problems. Sad but true.

    March 18, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Jake, California

    He reminds me of Hillary Clinton. Birds of the same feather ehn?

    March 18, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. bond

    Just an OLD war mongering fool who's losing his faculties.

    March 18, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. Chris-Seattle

    And to think people are actually going to vote for this guy! America don't be as dumb as he is, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!!

    March 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. The Austrian

    Not a single front-runner has any idea how foolishly they are managing or will manage our foreign policy. McCain will be Bush 2.0, and Obama/Hillary will just be Bush-light.

    If only there was a candidate that truly understands foreign affairs... oh yeah, there's Ron Paul, but people think he's silly. The same people who will be putting one of the aforementioned nation-building statists into power.

    March 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  15. Kelly From Canada

    Give it up McCain – didn't trust you when I lived in Arizona – don't trust you now! And I don't have to – I live in Canada – Thank God


    March 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. Robert

    I woundn't say that this is a serious misstatement. I think if we knew the whole story of Iran's involvement, they probably have been helping Al-qaeda in Iraq. But it is funny that the DNC pounced on this as just last week Hillary tried to take credit for the peace agreement in Ireland and Lord Trimble who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort in the Ireland peace agreement said that Clinton's statement was "silly" and that she didn't attend one negotiation meeting while she accompanied then President Clinton on their trip to Ireland.
    Talk about misstatements! Not an honest slip like McCain but an intentional misleading of her experience. DNC watch who you are pointing fingers at!

    March 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  17. bill mullis

    mcain is four more years of bush DOES ANY RIGHT THINKING PERSON believe this country and the world can take four more years of bushes deceit lies mcain is old and like stale bologna he has about as much pessaz as my 97 year old grandma

    March 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  18. Kim, Dallas, TX

    God help us if this guy gets elected. He has followed too closely in Bush's footsteps and is eagarly awaiting a chance to "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran; as demonstrated on stage not so long ago. I am tired of the warmongering, the fear, the idiocracy that has been leading our country. His judgement has been terribly misguided and I would take either Democrat over his leadership.

    March 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. Mark in Missouri

    Hilarious. What an idiot.

    March 18, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. susants

    Frightening to think he is in a dead heat with either Democrat. At least they know the difference between Sunni and Shiite vis a vis Al-Qaida as well as the differences amongst Iraq, Iran and Afganistan.
    And this is the man who admits he knows nothing about the economy!
    Another Bush.
    Where does America find these dummies?

    March 18, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. D Hayes

    I am beginning to wonder if any canidate is eligible for this job. The media tears at there every word spoken. Give it a break. Even the news media mispeaks. As for Hillary and her jargon on the only time
    we have had a excess in our reserves was when her husband was
    in office. Well, has anyone given thought to we had a Republican House and Senate. The first 4 years with George Bush we also had a
    Republican House and Senate. We liked President Bush enough then
    to revote him in. Now things are going to heck in a hand basket and guess what? We have a Democratic House and Senate. Who is baiting who here. President Bush doesn't have a chance becasue the
    Democrats will stop him at every turn. Stop and listen to Pelosi sometime. She makes it all about her and her Americans. Give it
    some real thought before you vote in this election. Look at what the
    Democrats have caused in the last 4 years.

    March 18, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  22. maya

    Let's move forward with the only viable Dem nominee- Hillary Clinton.

    Obama may give a good speech, but he is seriously lacking in judgment and his actions and support for a racist preacher over 20 years are louder than his words.

    And Jack Cafferty- yuck. What an idiotic question- Will Hillary do anything to win (or whatever stupid question you posted). What the heck does that have to do with anything relevant today. No questions about Obama's big speech? No questions about his electability after all of things that have surfaced. You showed your sexist bias and it is just UGLY. I change the channel whenever your face comes on screen...

    March 18, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. FV, Tampa, FL

    GEE, being that CNN is closing off all the other comment logs on the ticker I guess I'll have to post in this one.....
    As dumb as mccain is he's still on an even par with obama's inexperience.....
    I've been a life long liberal but if obama is the nominee I will most certainly entertain the possibility of voting for mccain. Even though he's an aging milquetoast, at least he HAS expericence.
    obama is the worst mistaken since..... Mondale? Dukkais? TKerry?
    Take your pick!

    In the name of reason why on EARTH would someone vote for obama over Hillary? In a word: Ignorance.

    March 18, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  24. John

    Barak Obama is brave, courageous and right.

    McCain is just a Bush/Cheney extension. He wants to extend five years of useless, terribly costly in lives and money, unnecessary war that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld lied to get started.

    March 18, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. someone smiling in Texas

    McCain has a clean shot at the Presidency and he keeps screwing it up himself........I can't believe that while Hillary and Obama battle it out for the dem candidacy for President, McCain can't get it together and from what I've seen in the last couple of weeks McCain looks like he has less experience that Obama.........There's only one choice here and it's Hillary Clinton.

    March 18, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
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