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. Dan

    McCain is an imbecile. Sounds like the groundwork of more lies to prepare for justifying another bogus war. Grrrrreat. Either McCain knows nothing of what's going on over there or he's beginning to weave the web of lies.

    March 18, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. Bill Jergens


    March 18, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. Jamie

    Stupid is as stupid does. Can you spell geriatric!!!

    Go Obama !!!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. Conservative

    Oh Boy

    March 18, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. Jon H., Denver, CO

    as if democrats NEVER make mistakes..

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

    John McCain has my vote if Hillary becomes the Democratic nom.

    March 18, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. jay roper row

    same ol fear and conquer stance, that has got the world desipsing the United states, HERE WE GO AGAIN. the same ol song,how long can we continue to spew this kind of bully mentality? you can kick a dog and eventually that dog will turn on you. don't think that china and russia ain't observing oh i forgot we have brought their silence. also you republicans are wearing the ronald reagan drum beat out enough already. sounding like a broken record

    March 18, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. Ardnuas

    Voters....Who represents AMERICA best?
    We Americans are awesome when we are UNITED!!!!!
    Obama/Edwards08 Si Se Puede

    March 18, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Clint

    John McCain is senile and should not be running for anything except retirement.

    March 18, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. kerry d

    this is the tickers top story. guess they got to get some distance from the obama mess up.

    March 18, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. Warren S

    McCain is likable enough, but he's too ham-fisted to be the security expert he wants us to believe he can be. Like Bush, McCain's toolbox for international relations only seems to include a hammer. And just like Bush, McCain seems to see situations in absolutes and to miss the subtleties that offer opportunities for diplomatic progress. If McCain is elected you can expect more of the same good intentions and more of the same AWFUL results in international relations.

    March 18, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. CHERYL




    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. Mike, Houston, TX

    The Iranians operate under the principal "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". The democrats are prepared to surrender to whomever that may be.

    March 18, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. Leslie Somerville, Seattle, Washington

    He is a great man, but too old to be President. Too many senior moments are going to be happening to this man.
    I don't want him answering the phone at 3am, he might drop dead. I don't want Obama answering either, he wouldn't know what to do. I don't want Hillary either because she would have to have a conference with her husband about the call.
    I wish Bill was back in the White House. With all the lies going around congress right now, who really cares if Bill got some nookie on the side--he ran this country like a fine oiled machine.

    March 18, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  15. Leslie, Summerville, SC

    John McCain a nice guy. He did a lot of good for our country and gave way above and beyond in his service. He's just out of touch and should go peacefully off into the sunset where he belongs. God Bless him.

    March 18, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. Kim

    Come on McCain get it together, I have to vote for you if Hillary wins the dems nomination. You're getting old, i hope people don't think you have dementia of some type.

    March 18, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  17. Trill


    This guy would be a decent candidate if it werent for his stance on the war. McCain, if you flip flop on the war like you did on the Bush tax cuts, you may actually have a chance of winning in November.

    March 18, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  18. Steve from Danville

    We know that John McCain needs a book on Economics, because he said so. We know that McCain thinks it's feasible to keep troops in Iraq for 100 years, because he said so. We know that McCain thinks it's funny to joke around about "Bomb Bomb Iran" because we saw the video. Now we know that McCain can't keep track of the Sunni and the Shiite. God save us all from another Republican in the White House.

    March 18, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  19. Gino

    John! Get on the wire. The truth is you don't know what you are talking about. Period.

    March 18, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  20. writing on the wall

    Wait? Isn't this familiar? YES! Bush linked Saddam and al-qaeda as an excuse to invade Iraq. FACT: There was NO al-qaeda in Iraq until the US invaded and removed Saddam from power.

    McCain=second coming of GWB

    March 18, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  21. Amy Jacobson

    The Middle East is sensitive to such remarks. A word used commonly in the western world was manipulated to strengthen the argument of a Christians vs. Muslims war. You guessed it; the word was "Crusade".

    Using the terms Al Qaeda and insurgents/extremists interchangeably should not happen by a presidential nominee. I think that counts against Senator McCain. That said, it will not change my view of him. I trust that he understands the issues well.

    March 18, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  22. Mikey Boy

    John McCain is a fine individual and has served this country well.

    His ultimate downfall is Iraq, and the American people will overwhelmingly oppose him in the November election, just as they opposed many Republicans in Congress in 2006.

    Sad, because many people would have voted for him in 2000.

    March 18, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. Chris

    This is a rather serious misstep. Like in the case of President Bush, a President McCain would first convince himself that a country unfriendly towards America is plotting to do us arm then proceed to strike against them.

    March 18, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  24. Ryan

    Americans often have misconceptions about the Middle East, the War on Terror, and the War on Iraq. I do not expect the average person to be an expert on these things, but someone who wants to be Commander in Chief should. This sends a horrible message that someone like McCain would make false statements about Iran and Al-Qaeda and reminds me of Bush and the lies that brought us into Iraq in the first place.

    March 18, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. lorenzo

    my comment is about the pastor wright situation! This is nothing new to black america my but it is not a place in the church when need to address this issue america is all races not just black and white we need a person in the white house that can unite this country not someone who is out for self gain I go to a diverse church we all see each other as one . Until we can see each other for our soul this country will always be divided. Lets start looking at ourselves.

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