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. chris pennington

    OMG. Havent we already been through this?? Shocking. He doesnt seem to give a hoot, that uttering such lies can literally change the world. ( George Bush, Colin Powell, State of the Union) McCain is acting like a giddy school girl. His credability is slipping through his hands like sand. Once a respected independent minded Republican, now he has tasted power and fame, and is turning into George Bush before our very eyes. A few more lies like this and he will hand the election to the Democrats.

    March 18, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Linda, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Of course, we all know that this is Mr. McCain's prelude to war with Iran. He has taken a page from the master himself, George Bush, and decided that we really wants to "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran...." as he sang in his little ditty. He is all prepared, if he win's the General Election, to start a third war. Mark my words.

    March 18, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. SUE, Michigan

    Well, I guess he's building a case , however poor, for bombing Iran. Big surprise! Next we'll have Intel hearings supporting his statements, and Condi Rice jumping on the bandwagon. Does it never end?
    ANY Democrat will be a better choice! PLEASE!

    March 18, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. PA Voter

    Please.... Dems are grabbing at anything they can. McCain is the only person in this election that understands anything about what it's like to be in the military and the challenges we face in the coming years. The DNC is probably thankful that the jabs back and fourth between Hillary and Obama are detracting the voters from the real issues facing our national security.

    March 18, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. Shannon, Charlottesville, Virginia

    McBush has said he doesn't understand the economy. Now he doesn't seem to understand foreign affairs, either. This indicates the same type of incompetence we've lived under for the past 7 years. Ignore at your own peril.

    March 18, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Snapper, Seattle

    Not surprising that the demos will jump on any miscue by McCain. They should be more concerned about their own infrastructure since democratic supporters don't seem to know what they want (Obama/Clinton split down the middle). The Clinton demos are in a frenzy right now with attacks on Obama's relationship with his pastor, and Obama demos are slamming just about anything Hillary does.

    March 18, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. I'm Good At This


    John McCain is an idiot.

    But not to be outdone, Joe Lieberman made sure to remain standing behind his faithfully moronic companion. Because he's a champion for the people! Just, you know, not the informed people.

    March 18, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. G Dubuisson

    "Dems seize on McCain's Iran gaffe"... There we go again... an attempt by CNN and other news media to make of such a major blunder by a US presidential candidate another partisan issue. If I were a Republican, I'd think twice before throwing my support behind a candidate that is so obviously ignorant of the most obvious fact about "Al-Qaeda in Iraq": they are not friends of Iran...and they are not being trained by Iran. This is not a gaffe on McCain's part, it is mere ignorance. America cannot afford to have another GWB in the White House. The whole world is watching!

    March 18, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Mark

    Sounds like McBush needs a lesson on the Middle East.

    March 18, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. Justin from West Haven, CT

    Lieberman is a sell out, enough said.

    March 18, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  11. bukou

    So the senator does not know the difference between the Shiites and the Sunnis. But then, very very few Americans know any better. In fact very few people can identify Iran or Iraq on a world map. In a democracy the people (electorate) deserve the leadership they get. AN ignorant electorate will most certainly choose an incompetent leadership. So gook luck America once again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |


    March 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. Dan - FL

    WOW – and he's supposed to be the best candidate on foreign policy????

    March 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. CW in DC

    I am officially renaming John McCain to Homer Simpson and we shall call this a "DOH!!!" (with emphasis on the slap to the forhead) moment!

    March 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. S.N.

    McCain is undoubtedly ready to lead – ready to lead the US into the same blunders of the Bush administration.

    March 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    I have a lot of respect for Senator McCain and he made a mistake. That said, I think his mistake is rooted in an American insensitivity to the cultural and religious differences between people in the Mid-East. It seems to be part of the general Republican mentality that, if you live in the Middle East, you are Al Qaeda.

    March 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    Granpa McCain, the man is too old to be President.

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


    March 18, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    i wouldnt really say this is a "political attack" as mccain's campaign is saying. it's genuinely that senator mccain has made this al-qaeda/iran connection multiple times, it wasn't just a slip of the tongue.

    March 18, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. Greg

    Too bad the Democratic Presidential candidates are destroying each other right now and unable to take advantage of this softball.

    Leaves it to this nobody to try to score a few cheap points off a candidate who clearly misspoke.

    It is going to take a heck of a lot more than this to chip away at McCain's national security street cred.


    March 18, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Rohit

    Grandpa McSame should realize he is too old to remember everything.

    Give sound judgement a chance to rebuild the country.
    Obama '08

    March 18, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. Al Qeada

    We agree with the DNC. Retreat is a much better option..

    March 18, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Looks like the wheels are beginning to fall off the "Straight Talk Express"..... 🙂

    March 18, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. Jorge

    That is why he song Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. He is obsesed with a war, who can trust him? Gun makers.

    March 18, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |

    The guy mispoke, come on people!


    March 18, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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