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. J Johns

    When it comes to Iraq John McCain never let the facts get in the way of "increasing the propaganda" (something Geo Bush talked about in 2004).

    March 18, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  2. Political Jonze

    It's a slip of the tongue if it happens once, though doing so in Jordan it's almost inexcusable, however given that he has made that same mistake before does have to give you pause. He is supposed to be the security/foreign experience candidate after all and simply doesn't understand that there is a difference between Shiite and Sunni in Iraq.

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

    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 – some may say that doesn't matter. These people know here and she knows them – it matters. WE don't need another republican and we don't need a racists in the White House - so that leaves one choice – the right choice who has good judgement - Hillary Clinton.

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

    McCain = Bush

    Hillary or Obama has to win.

    Obama supports need to stop bashing Hillary. Hillary and Obama really need to run together. I think Obama should be President and Hillary VP. Figure it out people.

    March 18, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  5. Black Republican in New York

    John McCain: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al Qaeda. I am sorry, I am sorry," the Arizona senator said."

    I don't see what's the big deal about such a gaffe. It's not like as though Iran and Al Qaeda share deeply contrasting views and objectives. They both hate America and Israel and want to see the two nations fall or be annhilated.

    The DNC trying to seize on this gaffe just goes to show that the Democrats are more interested in scoring points than about a genuine national security plan for America. Given both Dems and Repubs have a responsibility to combat terrorism, I'd expect the Dems to treat this gaffe for what it is: a gaffe.

    John McCain is a war hero!

    The DNC? A tarred zero!

    March 18, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. Dave C - N.J.

    Save the Drama for Obama!

    Sure the DNC can pounce on every word, but that makes the DNC look desperate.

    Did McCain screw up his wording? Yup.
    Should he be polished enough at this point to NOT make a mistake like that? Yup.

    Should he be bashed for it? I don't think bashing him on this is a viable way to win the election, in fact it's poor leadership...heck, it's poor sportsmanship too.

    I mean the guy says things that aren't good, such as Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran. Will that stop people from voting for him, to nit pick his every word? NOPE.

    DNC, find substance in your attacks!

    Obama 08

    March 18, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. Wallace Greenfield, III


    This is not good. This reminds me of Bush.
    The question is, will McCain supporters recognize this, and at the very least hold him accountable...? think if he had been giving a speech while on a diplomatic mission? He would have offended the entire room.

    Again, yikes!

    March 18, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    democrats are slugs

    March 18, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  9. Wayne

    Oh My God. McCain is just an older version of Bush. If you want to destroy this country McCain..if you want to continue partisan politics, lobbyist influence and gridlock in Hillary..if you want to SAVE THIS COUNTRY..VOTE OBAMA 08

    March 18, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. christopher

    It sucks to be OLD. It's 3AM and Obama will be answering the phone.

    March 18, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    Ah, the DNC...
    Anything to take voters minds off.....

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FLORIDA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  12. Bridgette

    I can't wait for the Democrats to have a true majority, so they can tell Joe (Republican) Lieberman to go fly a kite!!!

    March 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. S. Shay

    I'm an Obama supporter but the guy said he was sorry. Does an apology, a denouncement or a recantation mean anything these days?

    He still doesn't stand a chance against Obama but at least he admitted a mistake unlike at least one candidate still in the running, although barely, by the name of Hillary Clinton.

    March 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. David, Silver Spring, MD

    What McCain says about Iran is irrelevant. What does his pastor say?

    March 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |

    it takes a lot of guts to correct john mccain by democrats who have nothing constructive on the fight against terror for six years .not once have you people been positive about the war on terror .all you talk about is getting out ,not winning .please america don't let these people near our whitehouse or congress . if i would have had your mindset on iwo jima during wwii we would have still been there .

    March 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Janet Mitchell, Las Vegas, NV

    A fundamental misunderstanding of the region, its people, their religions and cultures...

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

    That verbal mistake on the Iran was supplying al Qaeda is not going to go well with the American people. That statement proves to me that McCain is inexperience and out of touch with foreign policy. Futhermore, why are you visiting Iraq when you should be trying to solve the economy crisis in America? That doesn't look good for you.

    March 18, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. Nobillary Andobama


    "Tehran has been supporting terrorist groups ever since the mullahs came to power in 1979. According to the State Department's annual report Patterns of Global Terrorism, the Shiite regime has aided outfits as ideologically and religiously diverse as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, GIA, GSPC, and Hizb-e-Islami–all of them Sunni Muslim–along with the Marxist groups Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK)–that last, despite Iran's concern over any move towards autonomy on the part of its own Kurdish minority. Clearly, the mullahs do not consider ideological or religious purity a prerequisite for cooperation."

    Where do you think Sunni based insurgents have been getting EFPs??? that technology is a direct export from Iran

    McCain is actually right....if the liberal media bothered to do their job and leave the Green Zone to go talk to some Subject Matter Experts they could report the facts for a change.

    March 18, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. Icke

    Lieberman is just another shape-shifting reptillian. Just like Bush, and the entire British Royal Family. They have engineered all of this. Wake up, you guys! We've been plugged in to the matrix a lot longer then just the past eight years.

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

    Isn't this a no-brainer? Of course them Dems are going to swipe at every fish dangled in front of them.

    They would do best to get their own house in order. They'll soon learn history has a way of repeating itself.

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

    If the Democrats are criticising people who make gaffes they should look closer to home where Obama's wife told the nation she's only been proud of America once, now her husband is doing well in the nominee fight.

    March 18, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  22. D.Ward

    John Mccain,acts sort of like Bush he don'n even know what he is talking about Luckly he had Zell Miller whisper in his ear,I mean Lierberman both of them is the same,says he is a Democrat when he is really a closet republican

    March 18, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  23. Patrick

    Jason: What are you talking about? Because someone stands up for their country when they're at war and they don't follow the democratic playbook of turning against your military when they're at war, this makes you less of a democrat? I find it refreshing that someone would look to do what's best for their country before what is popular with their party. It's disgusting to me how someone's support for a war can be the single issue that would cause someone NOT to vote for them. What a country we have become. McCain/Liberman 08

    March 18, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  24. Mike G

    McCain seems like a true patriot gone bad; the Patron Saint of Special Interests is getting too old.
    The Repubs are writing off the 2008 election and McCain is their victim, as they know Cheney/Bush created a huge hole too difficult to recover from in 4 years...those guys are vicious animals which eat their own.

    March 18, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  25. Chris from SC

    So McCain's true colors come out?? Wants to go to war in Iran?? What a scary thought. This country needs a clear intelligent mind and McCain is not that man.

    Obama '08

    March 18, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
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