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. Jen Lefton

    And people think that McCain is the candidate that will handle our war on terror the best? He is just like Bush....making up any links or connections he can think of to justify agressive actions against another country. Terrifying. Simply terrifying. I hope that people will see his repeated comments for what they are....the sign that McCain TRULY doesn't understand the crucial details about the terrorist groups that we are fighting. How can he lead a war on terror if he is this ignorant?

    March 19, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Karen

    Where does Obama get his ideas about the War? Rev. Jeremiah Wright? To take what was clearly the confusion of words on McCain's part and then draw these comments from them reveals Obama's insecurities. He's wounded and weak so he'll take something this small to give himself the opportunity to keep talking and talking.

    March 19, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Bob

    and what does Obama know? NOTHING!! SHUT UP!

    March 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Peter

    Hey, Barack, are you saying once again that words matter?

    March 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. Wayne

    Anyone who voted for this war that has cost is 680 BILLION should not be elevated to president. Can you imagine the impact of ANOTHER judgement error of this magnitude? It woudl forever sink the US.

    March 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. Brad

    "McCain ultimately corrected himself after Sen. Joe Lieberman whispered in his ear."

    ACTUALLY, Joe Lieberman corrected McCain. Read the sentence. The next sentence should have read, "Oh by the way, I'm not competent enough to be President."

    March 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Chip Pudims

    Obama better stick to his only hope "change". Substance does not become him!

    March 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. Natasha M. in KY

    I am so glad that Obama takes the time to talk to the American people and not totally disregard us like our current president....

    March 19, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Dominic M. Polto

    I have a hard time supporting a man who refuses to take a stand on anything. From his voting record in Illinois with over 100 votes present. To this latest fiasco regarding his pastor. Would a man continue to see a pastor for twenty years and subject his children to his rantings. If he didn't believe some of what he was saying. Does Barack tell his children not to listen to the pastors comments ? And won't his children someday say then why do we go there? I am curious if this pastor was first the pastor of Michelle O'bama. And then here we go again with Barack not taking a stand and just going along with his wife.

    March 19, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Christine

    Don't all be so naive. If Obama or Hillary made this error the GOP would have been all over it from now until Nov.

    March 19, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. MP

    'full of it'...Yes, that's exactly what you are...You and your kind are a dime a dozen and most of reason this country is in such a mess.

    March 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Benny

    Is anyone noticing all the flags????

    March 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Walt, Belton,TX

    Sorry Obama, but after your wodnerful speech yesterday, you're a loser, pure and simple. Your election is just not going to happen. Hillary trapped you in your own mess and you can't clean it up!

    March 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Robin

    For some people it seems that Mr. McCain's mistake is a very small issue. Well, the fact is that we as a nation made a similar mistake five years ago and it was not small at all.

    And one more thing: Regardless of what is the issue, you can read anger and harshness among some of the comments posted on this page. Some of Mrs. Clinton supporters and some of Mr. Obama supporters write their comments based on their hate toward the other candidate not based on their support for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama. That is sad. Why not showing respects for the others, while making the points? Why acting like Extreme Right Wing activists? Then what would be the difference who is up and who is done, if we cannot tolerate each other?

    March 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. Monica, Texas

    If it would have been one time it would not have been such a big deal however he did it several times....folks this is scary. The truth is the truth...

    March 19, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. David, Gilbert Arizona

    You gotta love it when the CNN moderators immediately delete posts that discuss Obama's gaffes. He is the last person who should be pointing fingers at other people.

    CNN your blatant bias is still shining bright.

    March 19, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. Jose

    Hillary's goose is cooked! She doesn't stand a chance against Obama on ANY level. Obama 08!

    March 19, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. David, Charlotte, NC

    After Obama's failed attempt to explain his allegiance to Wright and his 20 year and continued loyalty to a church that honored Farrakkan, it is difficult to take anything he says seriously. The words of hypocrites mean nothing.

    March 19, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Niel, Orchard Park, NY.

    Obama is a hypocrite and a fraud, he isn't qualified nor does he have the character to be President, while John McCain is a genuine American Hero!

    March 19, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Jim

    Good Speech ... He needs to do ones on Energy, The Border, Health Care and other topics.

    March 19, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Nicholas Hussein

    That's my President!

    March 19, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. deb in az

    sen obama keeps saying how he never voted for the can someone vote for or against when they are not in the senate in washington? you know i dont really care who voted for it or against it,,,,,,,it needs to come to an end now.............if george bush needs to protect his oil interests in iraq, let him hire some people to protect bush needs to listen to the people of the united states of american............this man talks to us like we are children and his judgement is the only judgement that matters.....he and his vp (war mongers)

    March 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Peter in Canada

    Now Obama is a bad guy for attacking the Republican and Hillary is the good guy for attacking Barack...what hypocrites!

    March 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. dave

    Obama needs to get spiritually healed and quit worrying about McCain's speeches.

    March 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. charlene

    A man who wore the mask of grace while holding the hands of a preacher of hate for 20 years is now mocking an aged man who has in the most humbled way sacrafice his body and life for the love of all americans? Making a speech with the help of a team of strategists and writers when you're back is against the wall and your presidential campaign is at stake is not courage! Its called desperation! Courage is when you speak out against hate even when nothing is at stake but your own inner convictions, principles and belief. Fooled no more! I will not let any politician Obama me again! Voting for Hillary all the way!

    March 19, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12