March 26th, 2008
02:05 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: McCain speech parts ways with some Bush policy

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain parted ways with President Bush on two foreign policy issues in his speech Wednesday."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senator John McCain strongly defended President Bush’s strategies in Iraq and the war on terror Wednesday, and sharply rebuked his critics - but he clearly deviated from the president’s national security policy on two major issues.

Speaking before the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, he rejected the president’s determination to keep the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba open. He also said it was time to negotiate a new global warming treaty.

“We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured,” he said. “I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.”

On global warming and the international treaty that President Bush abandoned after taking office, McCain said: “There is such a thing as international good citizenship.” He added: “We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.”

But on Iraq, the senator remained firm to the president’s approach. “It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal,” he said.

The biting criticism of his two Democratic presidential challengers was hovering over those remarks – as well as several other passages in his speech - even though he didn’t mention either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama by name.

Related: Watch Bill Schneider's analysis of McCain's foreign policy speech

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Disgusted

    I believe that as the race for the White House gets going, McCain will distance himself more and more from Bush. I believe that was part of his strategy for his recent overseas tour. I'll never understand McCain's support for Bush after the 2004 election. Bush and his camp said horrible things about McCain. It was after this that McCain went soft on Bush. For anyone interested, read Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine. What an eye opener. We really need a 3rd, 4th party in this country.

    March 26, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The "possibility" of leaving Iraq in worst shape than what it is now is nothing more than a "possibility". McCain and the Bush administration are as believable as chicken little running around saying the sky is falling in. McCain has no plan to exit Iraq as Bush had no plan going into Iraq. What we do know without "possibility" is are our economy is crashing and the costs of the Iraq war is still sky rocketing and we Americans weren't even told this would be a "possibility". McCain is part of the problem without solution, just stay the course.

    March 26, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. kathleen "a typical white person" for OBAMA/EDWARDS 2008

    What a phony!!!! Whatever he has to say to win.

    March 26, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Grif

    How many horses die, on there way to Churchill Downs..

    This is A Derby/Darby................To the winner go the spoils..

    March 26, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Ratgurl

    McCain HAS to diverge from Bush policy in order to even be a contender in the GE. No one wants another 4 years of BUSH!

    March 26, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. vjh

    If memory serves me right, HRC stated she would start withdrawing troops within 60 days, reagrdless. Obama stated he would look at withdrawing troops from day one, however, he would need to be as cautious leaving as careless GW went in. Geez, I interpreted that to mean he wouldn't just start bringing troops home without considering the circumstance to our safety and to the Iraqi people. With all due respect Senator McCain, a vote for you is extending the Bush Admin.

    March 26, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. Wayne

    Yep..he is so different than Bush. Bush would only send 120,000 troops..McCain would send 150,000 troops..way to break from the past.

    March 26, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Karen P

    What worries me most about McCain is that he is as OBSESSED over Iraq as the point of forgetting about a strong economic America. Now Iran gets into the act while Europe sits idly by just watching. We have always supported Europe during wars, yet they turn a blind eye to us now. Gratitude...not!

    We need to get out, take care of our own country and put those "missing" sky patrols in place. Bush should've known what was going to happen when we entered Iraq and now it's going to be just like Vietnam

    March 26, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. NW Independent

    Throught Senator McCain's career he has bucked his party to find real solutions to problems. He is showing himself capable of doing it again. I am a social and moderate fiscal conservative and am excited about a man that will take a stand no matter what his party thinks about it if it's the right thing to do.

    For all of you who don't understand the economy, any tax increases now would be a bad idea. maybe once the economy is strong again a good look at the current tax structure is in order but not NOW!

    If either Dem. nominee's plan for Iraq is put into place we will see gas prices double or triple and a humanitarian nightmare come to fruition. I have lived in Iraq and there is no doubt we will have to go back if we withdraw too quickly.

    Senator McCain is attempting to go green without sinking our industrial base further. For all of you blue collar types you should seriously thing about that because enviromental factors have played a huge role in our industrial base being shipped overseas!

    Just some thoughts......

    March 26, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. cly







    March 26, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Trollmaster CA

    If McCain was for real he would have opposed Bush's policies years ago, not now when he's up for election and trying to shed the coattails of an unpopular, incompetent, and failed preident

    March 26, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Darth Vadik, CA

    This guy was the default least creepy Republican candidate. He only got nominated after the stories of the rest of the Republican contenders started coming out, and the Repulicans said: "are these freaks really members of our party", then they got scared and voted for McCain.

    What they don't understand is that this guy is the King Freak. He mumbles, stumbles, loses his mind, and is just plain wrong. Beating him will be like taking candy from a baby.

    For his health sake I hope Hillary is not the Democratic nominee, she will give the poor guy a stroke or a heart attack.

    March 26, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Stretch

    Seriously, if you are a Democrat and would rather vote for McCain than Obama you need help. Clinton and Obama are nearly identical on the issues so you should support either one of them. If you support McCain, you may as well elect Bush another 4 years.

    March 26, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. Michael (Houston)

    I am a Hillary supporter , who clearly likes what I see in McCain. He may be a republican in name, but he is not like the rest of the republican devils. I will definitely vote for him if Hillary cannot pull it off.

    March 26, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. Independent

    This man is such a hypocrite it is not even funny,. He claims war is the root of all evil yet nhis entire family is embedded in war itself and every idea of his revolves around war, terror, and security.

    And any democrat, whether an obama supporter or clinton supporter that votes for mccain over a dem is a MURDERER just like McCain is. YOU SELFISH dems care more about your ego than the LIVES of our msoldiers and iraqis.

    March 26, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Grif

    And still? Isn't it strange how Dubai manages to Isolate itself??

    From all this,,, Kings????

    March 26, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. Tim

    Oh Senator McSame. Except for guantanamo and global warming, how are you different from Bush these days? Oh yeah, you arent. Old McLame is going to have his chances ruined by selling out to conservatives and following 8 years of the worst president in history.

    March 26, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. McSame

    Nothing is going on over here.


    I'm going back to watching my soap "All Hillary Children"

    March 26, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. Melanie

    Thomas, it's McCain not McCane. You want to support someone, learn how to spell their name.

    My opinion : McCain is worse than Bush.

    March 26, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. alg

    Go Hillary!!

    March 26, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. mat

    "...and not fraternity pranks that we saw at Abu Ghraib."

    I'm sorry, but are people murdered during fraternity pranks, having been beaten so bad that their bones turn to pulp? What the US is and has done under the bush regime is not considered fraternity pranks.

    March 26, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Angela

    Obama is the best choice for president. It is obvious that MCain is senile and Ms. Clinton is a liar.

    March 26, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. Joelle, Racine, WI

    Sounds like BUSH III to me!

    We need to address global warming.... "Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.”

    Everytime a Republican says he wants to address something in a ECONOMICALLY RESPONSIBLE MANNER that is code speak for IT IS NOT GOING TO BE MEANINGFULLY ADDRESSED!

    Sorry John, back to the home for the terminally senile for you...

    March 26, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. Trooper A

    Well, if Senator McCain believes that a partial move away from President Bush's policy will enhance his chances of residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2009, then he is dreaming. Iraq, corporate greed, and the health insurance mess will propell a Democrat into the Oval Office.

    March 26, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Very Concerned American

    Many Democrats that I have recently spoke to would rather vote for McCain if Obama was the Democratic nominee.

    Obama's support for his pastor instead of distancing him from him came as a surprise.

    Many actually have commented that they felt deceived by Obama. He was not upfront with them in the early primaries.

    If they knew then, what they know now, they would have done an about face right away.

    The polls were taken before the Pastor Wright issue. They don't even think there would be a race to the White House if in fact Obama was honest about his views from the start of the campaign.

    March 26, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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