March 19th, 2008
01:59 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama needles McCain on Iran gaffe


Watch portions of Obama's speech Tuesday.

(CNN) - Barack Obama on Wednesday took aim at potential rival John McCain over the Arizona senator's apparent misstep at a recent press conference in Jordan, the latest sign Democrats are looking to capitalize on the moment.

"Just yesterday, we heard Sen. McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and Al Qaeda," Obama said during a speech on Iraq Wednesday morning. "Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no Al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.

The gaffe in question occurred during a news conference in Jordan 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.

The Democratic National Committee immediately seized on the comment, saying the misstep raises question over whether McCain "can be trusted to offer a clear way forward." It also forwarded a transcript of a recent interview in which he appears to make the same mistake.

McCain's campaign hit back on the DNC comments, 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.”

In his speech Wednesday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Obama also criticized McCain for his continued support for an "open-ended war."

"Now we know what we’ll hear from those like John McCain who support open-ended war. They will argue that leaving Iraq is surrender," he said. "That we are emboldening the enemy. These are the mistaken and misleading arguments we hear from those who have failed to demonstrate how the war in Iraq has made us safer. "

UPDATE: Responding to Obama's comments, McCain senior adviser Mark Salter said, "John McCain wants American forces to come home when our clear and serious interests at stake in Iraq, which nearly 4,000 Americans have given their lives to secure, are truly safe, when al Qaeda is defeated; Iran's influence is contained, and the potential for a truly cataclysmic civil war in Iraq is remote. That, I think, is what is called 'making us safer.'

"Senator Obama's plan, if it can be charitably described as one, would do the reverse."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. alice2

    If Barack would have MIS-SPOKEN like that, they would have NEVER let it go by. McCain does not have all this experience as President. He was a POW, War hero and has been in the Senate, he has no experience in the White House, & is totally confused, gets all mixed-up easily, clings to the OLD POLITICS of George Bush, more of the same if we are so UNFORTUNATE to have him as Pres. BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT, WE ARE THE ONES, THIS IS OUR TIME. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Rachel, MA

    Obama, go away and let the adults handle this. Taking cheap shots at McCain isn't going to solve anything.

    The only thing he's brilliant at is double-talk.

    The only reason the media won't write-off his campaign is because he's still considered the front runner.

    Just wait until June.

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Whiskey

    Im a white male and support OBAMA. Hillary is a joke.

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. Linda

    Can't we all just get along !
    Enough already.
    This republican had decided to vote for Obama in 08.

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Mike, CA

    NOT THAT THIS WILL BE POSTED, BUT IT SEEMS EVERYONE ON HERE IS READING THE STORY ABOVE AND THEN COMMENTING ON THAT. Listen to the whole speak so you know in what context Brack was speaking. Americans can be so lazy and short-sighted, you thinks its just a coincidence that the whole world hates us?! Read a book, educate yourselves and you will see why we need Obama in the Whitehouse...NOW! Its not a coincidence that the higher educated Americans are voting for him!

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Appiah-Marfo

    The only candidate with the right to talk about the war is Obama. The rest are playing politics with America's future.

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Nathan

    This wasn't a small slip that McCain made. He repeated the comments several times, during that speech and other interviews. McCain's greatest draw is his war experience, but his words show he doesn't have a full understanding of the players in this war.

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Anne

    That was a cheap shot by someone who runs such a "holy" campaign.

    If I were Obama, instead of making a comment about McCain, I'd
    first be thinking of new ways to prevent FL and MS primary votes
    from counting. If Hillary gets them and wins PA (like she will), Obama
    is GONE!

    GO HILLARY...all the way!!!!

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Rick Byas

    I was a Obama supporter up until now. I agree with his speech but it just side stepped the issue. This is going on with his with some of his political contributors and allies in Chicago as well. Let's talk about Rizzo.

    March 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Glory

    Obama everything you say I agree with. His pastor says something and he is a racist and McCain says something and it's a gaffe please.

    Obama gave two brilliant speeches don't post anything without watching or reading the speech.

    March 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. DEM, Texas

    For me as a retired US Naval personal, I currently have a daughter serving in the war. In the service of our country. I am a proud of her as I am of all the men and women serving.

    Bush is so full of it. As well as Hillary and Bill Clinton, who has new served nor a member of their family.

    They need to be honest. Oops that not why they'll in office it the fleecing of america. That why Hillary is running Bill Clinton has deals that he need complete and they owe so many. So do your research before voting.

    March 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Linda

    Can't we all get along!
    Enough already.
    This republican has decided to vote for Obama in 08

    March 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. rb

    Obama, stop!
    That's enough!

    March 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. prakash chand

    Obama has no right to needle McCain, he nees to aplogise to Americans for his racial remarks.

    If terrorist attacks in our front yard this coward Obama will not authorise the war?

    March 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Nan

    Like the 100 years in Iraq thing. Everyone including Obama and Clinton know exactly what McCain was talking about but they chose to make it into a big deal. trying to spin it into war with Iraq for 100 years.
    No matter that their statements were all outright lies! What a couple of jerks!
    Same story here folks! The truth is no where to be found with this guy. Just feel good do nothing retoric and spin

    March 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Juan Pablo

    And this is the way this idiot Obama wants to become president of the United States of America? He can enjoy all the benefits this country has given him because of men like John McCain. And he has the nerve to
    make fun of McCain? I hope Obama wins the nomination of the Democratic Party. McCain will win by a landslide.

    March 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. charlie in Philly

    Congratulations McCain fans – now it is your turn to watch your candidate get it from all sides – welcome back to the election.

    March 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Sue

    McCain my be a little slow on the uptake. He is 71 and probably had repeated head trama from being tourtured. I might question his competence. I'm a Obama supporter but this time I would have left this one alone especially after the uplifting speech he gave just yesterday. It is right to question if McCain knows what he is talking about but as we know not one of these candidates is perfect.

    March 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. Whiskey

    Obama not a viable candidate? Are you kidding me, but Hillary is. Hillary couldnt even take care of her husbands needs, but you think she can take care of Americas. GET REAL.

    March 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Whiskey

    Obama not a viable candidate? Are you kidding me, but Hillary is. Hillary couldnt even take care of her husbands needs, but you think she can take care of Americas. GET REAL.

    March 19, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. lucille

    Please all you Obama haters wake up and realize that Obama is God's gift to us all. Enough said!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Gene

    Old man is confused and delusion about Middle East, and the rest of the world so as George Bush... that is the reason he voted for the war, insists on 100 years for dumb war, has no knowledge of economy. Describe himself as a "liberal republican....hello"

    March 19, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. Never McCain

    To those of you posting that you'll never vote for Obama. Who really cares? There are those that will vote for him. That's what I care about.

    March 19, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. Jennifer Ohara

    The Audacity of Barack Obama.

    I think belonging to a hate-filled, anti-American, anti-semitic, God-slamming church for 20 years is just a tad more of a big deal than a little word mix-up. The total arrogance of this guy. His downfall will be hubris - like all other great showman.

    March 19, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Very Concerned American

    All states should have the right to vote.
    Obama ought to step up to the plate and agree with that.

    March 19, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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