May 19th, 2008
12:45 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain seizes on Obama's 'tiny' comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain took a shot at Obama Monday."](CNN) - Campaigning in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago on Monday, John McCain sought to impugn the Illinois senator’s judgment on national security by slamming Obama's statement that Iran poses a less serious threat to the United States than the Soviet Union did.

"Sen. Obama claimed that the threat Iran poses to our security is 'tiny' compared to the threat once posed by the former Soviet Union," McCain said at the beginning of his speech to the National Restaurant Association. "Obviously, Iran isn't a superpower and doesn't possess the military power the Soviet Union had. But that does not mean that the threat posed by Iran is insignificant."

McCain was referring to Obama’s comments on Sunday in Pendleton, Oregon, in which Obama asserted that his administration's foreign policy would allow for negotiations with hostile nations. (Related: McCain slams Obama for downplaying threat from Iran)

"Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries," Obama remarked. "That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela - these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union."

"They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us,” he said. “And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying 'we're going to wipe you off the planet.' "

McCain, who regularly assails Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the stump, suggested in Chicago that Obama doesn’t understand the "basic realities of international relations" and that engaging Ahmadinejad diplomatically would only embolden him.

"Senator Obama has declared, and repeatedly reaffirmed his intention to meet the President of Iran without any preconditions, likening it to meetings between former American Presidents and the leaders of the Soviet Union," McCain said. "Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment."

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soundoff (268 Responses)
  1. FactCheck

    McFly, hello? The former Soviet union had a nuclear arsenal, an army to rival that of the US and their fingers constantly on the button. Iran has a nitwit who hasn't shaved and that's about it... This is about as idiotic a statement as has been made by McCain since his claim of not knowing the difference between the Sunnis and Shi'ites. Is the GOP completely gone nuts or is this is the best candidate that they can put through?

    May 19, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. mike from CA

    Who cares Mcpain.

    May 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Nainogero

    #1 We should not even HAVE to speak to Iran and the Iranian President!

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Isreal off the face of the map (Isreal is our ally)
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants nuclear power (How about continued better health care first or are you too busy suppling terrorists with weapons?)

    Also #1 – We don't speak English, we speak American

    May 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Mark

    Why would we even want a shell shock president in office whats to say he wont have a flash back and put us in a deeper mess then were already in. Whats to say he isnt holding a personal grudge against the Vietnamese for what happened to him. We dont need a captured war vet for president

    May 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. jw

    McCain-you have my vote!!!!! I believe you when you speak? How much more do the Obamas have to reveal about themselves before they are shown the "exit door"??? Or, is it that democrat voters will spite themselves just as long as a republican does not win an election, even if it means electing a "big talking , say nothing politician" such as Obama If "words count" as Obama says, maybe he should have a talk with his wife about the words she chooses when she talks about her lack of pride in America. Nice diplomatic representative she will make for us, huh!!! With the Obamas our enemies have become one of us....

    May 19, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Reggy Mack

    I got to give this one to Obama. The Soviet Union was and is a Super Power. I was in the Army for 21 years and I am glad that we did not go to war with them. We would of destroyed the world. Iran does not compare. Reagan, Kennedy, and Nixon set a good example of how to talk to our enemies. McCain, I dare you to say that either of these presidents was wrong. Your brain is just drowned with oil thats why you are all about Iran you idiot.

    May 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Kris In Atlanta

    I wish that CNN would stop feeding into these silly Mccain sound bytes. Mccain is manipulating the press but the public is not fooled: We are less concerned with Iran right now-a country we could easily obliterate-than with our skyrocketing gas prices, our foreclosed homes, illegal immigration, and Iraq. Let's talk about these issues Mccain. You should be comfortable with that ; after all, you helped create these problems. Mccain is practicing the old Republican switcharoo: When the country is upside down, talk about war. Sound familiar? Bush used the tactic in 2003 and here we are knee deep in the Iraq crisis. Don't be silly, people. A vote for Mccain is just an extension of Bush and the incompetence sitting in the White House today.

    Obama 08 and beyond

    May 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Joe Reg

    America is sick of bombs
    bombs and bombs.

    It is high time for a change is direction.

    No more repubs war machine.

    May 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Alex

    OMG, is McCain claiming better judgement when he voted and stood by Bush and insist for 100 yrs war? How is that a better judgement than Obama's objections to the war? He is just capitalizing on the media’s biased coverage about his experience. Yes, he is a good solider but not all good soldiers can be good policy makers. I thought he will distance himself from Bush policy rather he embraced it and promoting it. He is really out of his mind to jump on Bush wagon of reckless attack. By the way, there will be a day when will find whose family is Hitler appeaser? Since Bush started, we need investigative reports that can dig into the relation between Prescott Bush and Nazi. Then we will know the truth. McCain’s idea of aligning himself with Bush does not help him at all.

    May 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. M Pinard

    ... The verbal duels between McCain and Obama - especially on extremely volatile subjects such as Iran and Iraq - indicate the import of this Presidential campaign. It is apparent that Obama will end up as Democratic candidate for November Election. --
    ... I am a Republican and definitely intend to vote for McCain. He will win in November, because he will win the battle of words with Obama on vital issues, especially those relating to "war on terrorism." Obama is an "intern" when it comes to major issues; he cannot deal with the dangerous threats and other significant problems which face our nation. His flip-flopping scares a majority of U.S. citizens !
    ... Go, McCain !

    May 19, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. Jim Reynolds

    Clearly, McCain is the person who doesn't understand the world stage!

    May 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Scott in Indiana

    Once again taking something Obama said out of context. Way to try to use fear to try to gather support for the old GOP McCain. This coming from the man who is such an expert on the workings of the middle east he believes the Shiites in Iran were working with Al Qaeda. Good talk McCain.

    Obama '08!!

    May 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. Relevant

    Keep on conducting your campaign on a platform of fear mongering and war mongering, McCain.

    See how far that gets you.

    May 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Doyle - MI

    If the human race was truly intelligent wars would not occur. The greatest enemy of war is communication between opposing parties.

    May 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Tony, Miami

    I want people to remember Reagan was as old as McCain in his last year to office and already has memory lost. He finally made it public to the american people. What will happen if McCain has the same problem less one year after being elected???

    May 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Proud

    There are very few people who buy what's being said once they know the facts.

    MC CAIN 2008

    May 19, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. Oh Boy...

    ...wait, so now "tiny" means "insignificant?" Yeesh...

    May 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Hyacyntha

    It's sad to see so few intelligent comments being made. There is obviously a lot of emotion involved because you all resort to name calling rather than to building a cogent argument for your case. And yes, a lack of historical understanding. Kennedy didn't negotiate with Kruschev. He told him where we stood and what we would do if he continued his course of action. He didn't hold his hand and "make nice." We were attacked in New York on 9/11 by a handfull of terrorists, not even an entire country!! Oh and BTW where do you think the money is going to come from for all of Obama's give aways? Something for nothing? Whose being greedy here? You're too blinded by the the style and flash. The substance is the key and you choose to ignore what is being revealed to you day after day about who Obama really is.

    May 19, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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