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. Chuck in Oregon

    If McCain would honestly state that he promises to do all he can to put the heat to the Iraq Government to get their act to gether and take over their own destiny and to bring our troops home as quickly as possible; he would make greater headway.

    March 26, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. DFW

    What does McCain Stand For? He's not for the majority of the american people. He's for Businss. He don't see him making America better for the people, but for business he will make some difference. He will only hurt the little guy, the ones who go to work everyday and pay taxes. He will only hurt family's, just like he did his own. He will only hurt America and do the legal citizens any good.

    I will never vote for him.

    March 26, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Chisom

    Beware, Sen Mccain will not do anything for you guys facing home fore-closure. He said in California, that it is the irresponsibility of the home-owners and the lending companies. If you want a secured home next year, Vote for Obama!!

    March 26, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Wendy, Missouri

    Yes, McCain did say that he thought this would be a short war when it started, but you know if any of us could predict the future we'd all be rich and wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. In Iraq we do need a good plan to get out of their, but it is not possible to leave their within the next year or two without an amazing plan that works for all.
    Also, if we shut down Guantanamo, it doesn't mean that the torture will stop, it will just move elsewhere. Besides were would we send our prisoners of war?
    McCain needs to stick with the facts and be a straight shooter if he wants to win this election.
    To all the nominees, playing games with the American people can only go so far and we are tired of watching you rip each other apart. Stick with what matters (the economy, the war, and immigration) and maybe we can all get something accomplished. I would like to see some straight politics.

    March 26, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. McCain is the Man

    You go MAC.
    What true American would not support brave you Americans die for cheaper oil. We need to keep gas below 2 dollars, I mean 3 dollars .. I mean 4 dollars..

    Yea keep gas below 4 dollars, vote for McCain.

    March 26, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. charlotte

    He is the one we have to beat in November. Let all the states vote before we give it to McCain. Hillary is our best debater and we are going to need the best. Pretty speeches won't cut it in November. How important are the republican votes now? They won't even bother unless there is something else on the ballot and even then the turn out is low. There are about 800 superdelegates to be heard from and they need to know who can win in November not just the primary. They need all the states to be heard from and they need to take Florida and Michigan into account, even though they don't have state delegates, they have millions of votes to be weighed, even though Obama wants them to remain uncounted.

    March 26, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. U.S. Citizen

    Regarding his foreign policy comments, they sound good but I sense it's just rhetoric and, somewhat Machievellian. He still voted for an ill-conceived, illegal and immoral war and he still talks about us deciding what's best rather than understanding the anger regarding some of our actions in foreign nations (which don't justify terrorist attacks on innocent civilians).

    Even though we should not have invaded, we are stuck with a moral obligation to somehow restore some sort of infrastructure and stability to the nation and hope the Iraqis install a relatively democratic government. To show good faith, he should acknowledge our mistake and support the development of Iraqi oil resources with the majority of the profits going to the Iraqi people or regulated Iraqi-owned oil companies and very little, if any, going to us.

    While I like some of what he said, I still think he's another borrow and bomb conservative.

    March 26, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Dave, SC

    VIVA LA BUSH III Except not as smart!

    March 26, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. LionHeart (Ft Worth)


    What are you going to do about Al Queda in Afghanistan while you are fighting your 100-year war in Iraq? Your folks did remind you that Al Queda wasn't in Iraq and being trained in Iran like you said, right?

    March 26, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Joe

    Unfortunatly, on the biggest issue,IRAQ! McCain is in lock step with the goose stepping AXIS OF IDIOTS,Bush,Chenney and Rummy.

    March 26, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Kevin B

    Good for him. I think he needs to let people know he will not be McSame. I think that if he gets elected, as he is likely to because one should never underestimate the ability of the Democratic Party to destroy itself, he will work to end Global Warming. And torture is wrong, he knows, he was tortured

    March 26, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. Darth Vadik, CA

    What McCain just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point was he even close to anything that can be considered a rational thought. Every one in that heard the speech is now dumber for having heard it.

    March 26, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Doug

    I like John McCain. I agree with him on many issues. I would consider voting for him.... BUT anyone that agrees with or defends Geoge W regarding going to war and the conduct of the war will never get my vote. Is he dead wrong or is he just being "loyal"? I think it is the latter and loyalty is a good thing, but if someones is driving a school bus over a cliff – you don't sit back and say "atta boy" to the driver out of loyalty.

    March 26, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. Manuel TX


    I'm with you.

    McCain is closer to a center than the right. I can live with that.

    My first choice is second choice is to write in Bill...and the third choice might just be McCain. 🙂

    March 26, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  15. Conservative

    mc cain can't fool me, he's plans on being a jerk if elected President. Look at his record. He pretends to be nice until he gets what he wants. No thank you, I'll vote for Ron Paul.

    March 26, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. William Feliciano

    Democrats biggest mistake is that they are forgetting the voters of Michigan and Florida who, if their votes are not counted in the primary will not vote democratic in the general election and that means McCain will be our next President and take the 44 electoral votes those two states offer.

    March 26, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. Paul

    Here's to the only responsible adult running for president. I may not agree with everything Senator McCain says, but he's right about all three things in this article. It is both amusing and sad that so many Democrats think we need to get out of Iraq, thereby creating a genocide, yet these same Dems think we should intervene in places like Darfur. Could a Democrat who reads this please explain by what principle you decide which battles are worth fighting and which are not? I have yet to get a straight, intelligent answer out of any Dem I ask. And please don't waste everyone's time talking about how we should have never been there in the first place. That's water under the bridge. We're there, and we have to deal with it.

    March 26, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. Tyler in Raleigh

    I still prefer Obama.... but McCain makes serious sense on the economy (which is somewhat insane). After all, personal responsibility.... crazy and un-American.

    If he can tone down Iraq I might actually vote for him. Anything but Clinton works in a pinch though.

    March 26, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. jesse sturkens

    if a person stoop,. so low to get caught. in a lie and say afterward they just miss spoke,why should we trust them when they get into office.

    March 26, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  20. kathleen "a typical white person" for OBAMA/EDWARDS 2008

    Dear Mr. McCain
    You are on your own.

    March 26, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  21. CHERYL



    GO HILLARY GO!!!!!!!!

    March 26, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  22. dominic digiovanni

    nancyreagan s endorsement,was very touching, GO JOHN.

    March 26, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. CHERYL


    YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!

    March 26, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  24. ben

    Are we Americans so naive we actually think our government is run by politicians?The house of representatives, the senate, and the president, really dont control anything. The are controlled by big business or else
    they wouldn't be up there in the first place. It takes money to win an
    elected office. Up till now, both paries have been supported by this big money. Along comes Obama and with small donations from millions of ordinary people has managed to keep abreast of these power makers
    If Their puppets allow Hillary to steal the nomination. It will prove my point!

    March 26, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  25. Amy Jacobson

    With the exception of his position on abortion, I think McCain will be the most moderate president in recent history. A real uniter who stands for what he believes in regardless of party affiliation.

    To those stuck on the 100-year comment: Do you know that we still have troops in S. Korea, Japan and Germany?

    Now, real quick, can you name three politically stable and economically prosperous countries that are strong allies of ours?

    March 26, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
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