May 20th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: McCain 'obsessed' with Ahmadinajad


Watch Sen. Obama's entire interview with Wolf Blitzer Tuesday.

(CNN) - In a CNN interview Tuesday, Barack Obama accused John McCain of flip-flopping on Cuba policy, of deliberately distorting his own views - and of an "obsession" with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad.

“I have never said that I was prepared to immediately normalize relations with Cuba,” Obama told Wolf Blitzer in an interview set to air at 4 p.m. on The Situation Room. “The only person who has flip-flopped on this issue is John McCain, who in 2000 said that he would be prepared to start normalizing relations even if a whole host of steps have not been taken. That is a reversal from the position he is taking now.”

At a Tuesday campaign event in Miami, McCain attacked Obama’s position in favor of a possible relaxation of the Cuban embargo policy and discussions with the leadership of the island nation.

"These steps would send the worst possible signal to Cuba's dictators - there is no need to undertake fundamental reforms, they can simply wait for a unilateral change in US policy. I believe we should give hope to the Cuban people, not to the Castro regime,” said the presumptive Republican nominee, saying the embargo needed to remain in place until the Cuban government democratized.

Watch Obama take aim at McCain today at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on The Situation Room.

Obama told CNN Tuesday that his policy, which would loosen restrictions on remittances from Cubans living in the United States to relatives on the island, and on their travel between the United States and Cuba, would be “a show of good faith” that would help move the U.S.-Cuba relationship “in the direction of normalization.”

“And what I have also said is that I will be willing to engage in direct talks with Cuba,” said Obama. “Now, I know that John McCain likes to characterize this as me immediately having Raul Castro over for tea. What I’ve said is that we would set a series of meetings with low level diplomats, set up some preparation but that over time I would be willing to meet and talk very directly about what we expect from the Cuban regime. And so John McCain keeps on making these statements that simply aren’t based on anything I’ve said.”

Obama added that his views on dialogue with Cuba and with Iran followed the same guidelines. “And what I’ve said is I would be willing to meet without preconditions, but with a lot of preparation - and this is the same argument that we’ve been having with respect to Iran,” he said.

“John McCain essentially wants to continue George Bush’s policies of not talking to leaders we don’t like and not talking to countries we don’t like. It has been a failed policy,” said the Illinois senator, adding that Iran had gotten stronger because President Bush “engaged in a war in Iraq that John McCain facilitated that has strengthened Iran.”

McCain suggested at a Chicago campaign event Monday that Obama doesn’t understand the "basic realities of international relations" and that engaging Iranian President Mahmoud 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," said McCain, who frequently criticizes Ahmedinajad on the campaign trail. "Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment."

Obama said Tuesday that “this obsession with Ahmadinejad is an example of us losing track of what’s important.

“I would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders if we had done sufficient preparations for that meeting,” but that it was not clear Ahmedinajad might not be as powerful in a year’s time, and “is not the most powerful person in Iran” and might not be able to deliver the actions the United States was looking for.

Obama also said he was “shattered” by the news of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor.

“I think you can argue that I would not be sitting here as a presidential candidate had it not been for some of the battles that Ted Kennedy has fought …I stand on his shoulders,” said Obama, adding that Kennedy was “a great model of what a senator can and should be.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (348 Responses)

    TO: another irony May 20th, 2008 4:59 pm ET
    Apparently, it carries a lot of weight, it has voted in a "white man" every election time since we as African American Americans could vote. So your comment is meaningless to us..

    So, for all you racists bloggers take heed in this, we have always voted for a "WHITE" with no reservation what so ever. You people will have to answer for your sins one way or another. McCain will bring us all to that realization sonner than any of us realizes.

    May 20, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Charlie Richmond

    Hillary is TOAST, she would be great as a gang co-ordinator.
    Just think Hillary can run again in 2016 as not only the first women
    president but also the oldest....

    May 20, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Hillary supporter

    Get ready, McCain supporters to put up with vulgarity and obsession of Obamabots. I can tell you, you are better off on ABC or FOX blogs–there are more intelligent Hillary supporters there! Theae airheads will hang on every word Obama and his hating wife says and twist it every which way like their leader to make it sound good. (it never does)...When will they ever learn that things are recorded and brought out later to prove the flip-flops and plagerism of Hillar's ideas?! Also, you will be moderated most of the time if you do not support Obama. See you on Fox!

    May 20, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. John

    Republican in Idaho,

    How is it that i am uneducated because I'm voting for McCain. You blame the war on him and Bush and yet even the most liberal senators voted to go to war as well. I know Obama says he was against it, but i guess there's no way to know how he would have voted since he wasn't in congress. You appear uneducated if you think contries that have hatred built up over houndreds of years are going to get along because the U.S. decides to talk with them. I also might be interested in more than just that one issue. Its McCain or Obama and Obama still hasn't come out on issues very clearly. I guess all i can go on are his actions. His socialist voting record is not the type of change i want.

    May 20, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. Judy

    Learning from our mistakes is what allows a person to grow and learn; this means that while we may beleive something and through personal growth learn that what we beleived was wrong. The problem with Bush is that he did not believe that he has made any mistakes so nothing changes. If a canidate has changed their position on an issue because they have gotten new information or beause they are now looking at the issue in a new light; this should be a good thing, it should show that this person has learned from their mistake. Do we really want another president who makes a decision and no matter what new information is received stands by that decision? This is what we have had for the last 8 years, we now need a president that can learn from mistakes and attempt to correct that mistake. Obama has bashed Clinton from the beginning on her vote for war in Iraq; a vote that she has said was a mistake yet Obama has accused both Clinton and McCain of "flip floping" on issues. His attitude makes me wonder if he is saying that when he makes a decision that nothing will make him change his mind; this would be "flip floping" and according to Obama this is a bad thing. Anyone who thinks that Obama will be a "CHANGE" is closeing their eyes to reality; Obama is no different from any other person runing for an elected office; if he is at a rally he will say exactly what the people at that rally want to hear in order to win their vote then go to the next rally and say something different. The fact that Obama accuses someone of "flip floping" because they made a decision years ago and have now changed their mind or position concerns me because once Bush makes a decision he does not change his stance and it appears that Obama will be the same way.

    May 20, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Desmond Sequeira

    How come Mc/Bush does not make the same demands of countries like China, Saudi Arabia and other atrociously worse human rights abusing countries as he makes of Cuba? ONE MORE INDICATION OF ABSENCE OF INTEGRITY!


    May 20, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. Sharon Minnesota

    Oh My God. Obama is the most hypocritical politician to come around in the last 200 years of our country's history. Everything he has ever said he has turned it around in a matter of hours, days or weeks, depending on whatever was convenient. Makes me sick to my stomach to think he could possibly become our president. Go away Mr. Obama, you cannot possibly be serious.

    May 20, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. Susie

    And Obama is just plain obsessed.

    May 20, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. Wayne

    Bush wanted us to fear Saddam Hussien. It eventually led to an invasion that has cost us 600 BILLION.

    McCain now wants us to fear Amidinajod...I guess logic would let us know that McCain wants to make IRAN his war...

    If diplomacy is off the table we are left with two options...WAR..or INACTION..

    If those are the options I would take Obama's diplomatic option any day of the week..

    McCain is getting beat in the foriegn policy debate.

    May 20, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. demoungrate

    DNC will be making a big mistake if Obama is the nominee you will pay for it in november for the way you treated Hillary.

    The inability of this party to recognize a qualified canditate will cost you a lot of people defecting the party, the incompetence of Howard for rejecting two important states during the primaries is a huge mistake. I never thought that I would be disenfranchised by my own party, GOOD BYE DEMOCRATY PARTY.

    May 20, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. FactCheck

    I hope you all realize that Ahmadinejad is not the ruling council in Iran. He has no executive powers over armed forces or for declarations of war/peace. Clearly McCain does not understand that when Obama talks of meetings with the leaders of Iran, he is NOT TALKING ABOUT AHMADINEJAD! You GOPs must be desperate to drag out this fool as your nominee.

    May 20, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Dha Obama 's the one who said that he would meet with him with out pre conditions. Obama is so disengenuous it's pitiful. He says thing that have been said and done through history as if he just taught about them. Silly Obama go back to the senete and get some experience. Really Obama is not quite ready, even according to his own words after he won his seat in the senete.

    May 20, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. v.ananthan




    May 20, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  14. Desmond Sequeira

    To remind those self-proclaimed standard bearers of Christianity whom, I am sure, Mccain is at pains to please, and who reflexively demonize anybody who does not fit their warped idea of goodness and godliness, including other Christians,

    May 20, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  15. mmartin arkansaw

    hahahahahahaha!get 'em barry!mccain IS obsessed.

    May 20, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  16. hmmmmm.....sounds fishy

    has anyone notice that Hillarys hacks are angry.......and will not halt to reason.........and you ladies want to play in a mans world......I love woman as equals but if you are gonna play with the boys.....we are not gonna change the rules.......the rules are the rules........and I think that is the Clinton prob.....they thinkthat the rules are flexible for them

    May 20, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Joseph, Los Angeles California

    Well said Greg, Personally I think there are a lot of Limbaugh republicans on these blogs just trying to fan the flames of hatred. In other words, trying to be certain that we Democrats do not unite; I believe in my heart that we will. I truly believe that a true Democrat in their right mind would never write in a candidate who is not on the ballot. Common sense says one thing; that vote doesn't count.

    May 20, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Obama is such a phony

    May 20, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. Mark

    Obama has got to be one of the biggest baffoons and idiots. McCain obssessed with Iran's President. Tell me this Mr. Obama, how can you not be obssessed with a man who is close to obtaining a nuclear weapon and who is a sworn enemy of Israel. You are an idiot and an opportunist Mr. Obama and shame on you!

    This democrat will be supporting John McCain.

    May 20, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  20. Rose

    Obama only said "with preparations" after Clinton said it first. McCain is obsessed with the fact that Obama's approach is scary and I think it is too. He has no perception of what these people are capable of.

    May 20, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. NickNas

    Problem with being 1000 years old and forgetful. You forget the lies you told in the past and they come back to bite you. I am sure there are VOLUMES of things like this ahead for McSame.

    May 20, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  22. Kevin

    The Truth – Have you been paying attention?? Obama was GIVEN the flag pin by a veteran...THAT'S why he wears it.

    You people need to get a clue. You aren't even able to follow meaningless issues, let alone the actual important issues that have influence on people's lives.

    May 20, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. Don in Florida

    Maybe we would have less war if we had more talking.

    May 20, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  24. Keith Holznagel

    I just cannot believe the America I see today. Everything any candidate says is analysed by that big powerful "polically corrected" microscope. I guess it comes in handy sometimes, especially when you have someone like McCain whinning and sniveling over the least significant subjects in the race. Flag Lapel Pins? OH my God!
    Michele Obama? ... you would think that McCain has her down as the anti-Christ or something.

    American hero, Fine! American President.... NOT. The man would certainly get lost in thought if he could ever really get there.

    May 20, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  25. steven

    Anyone who profess they have always been proud of America. Don't Know There American History.

    Are you proud of 1973 Covert Action in Chile

    May 20, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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