May 31st, 2008
06:26 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: McCain should admit he was wrong on surge comments

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Sen. Obama campaigns in Rapid City, South Dakota, Saturday."]
RAPID CITY, South Dakota (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama accused Republican John McCain Saturday of not owning up to what Obama calls his "mistake" - saying that the U.S. has drawn troops down to pre-surge levels in Iraq.

"We all misspeak sometimes," the Illinois senator told a crowd in Rapid City, South Dakota. "I've done it myself. So on such a basic, factual error, you'd think that John McCain would just say 'Oh, I misspoke, I made a mistake' and then move on. But he couldn't do that. Instead, he dug in."

Obama connected McCain's Iraq comments to President Bush's unwillingness to admit fault "when he was presented with facts that went against his views" on the war.

"Just like George Bush, John McCain is refusing to admit that he's made a mistake," the White House hopeful continued. "And that's exactly the kind of leadership that has got us fighting for five years in a war that should've never been authorized."

"We don't need more leaders who can't admit they've made a mistake, even about something as fundamental as how many Americans are serving in harm's way."

The McCain camp fired back with a statement from spokesman Tucker Bounds.

"Barack Obama is ignoring facts," Bounds wrote. "He irresponsibly refuses credible evidence on the ground proving American troops have surged toward significant gains in Iraq and it proves he is just not ready to be commander in chief.

"For over 874 days, which includes the entirety of the 'Surge' strategy, Barack Obama has refused to visit Iraq, see the conditions on the ground, and meet with General Petraeus, and it raises questions about whether his campaign is based on conceding defeat in Iraq, no matter what progress our troops make there."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Tom

    If McCain started admitting all of his gaffs and mistakes now, CNN would need to implement a new channel to cover them all.

    May 31, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  2. davange, NC

    We all knew that Sen. McCain's trip oversea's was just a polictical stunt to say they were there during the time of the so called surge. And now they are using that time against Sen. Obama to say he has not been over there since 2006 so that disqualifies him as Commander and Chief.
    When Sen. Obama goes over there atleast he will know who is who without having Sen. Leberman to whisper in his ears the correct group infront of the cameras.

    This kind of back and forth is so high school!! When will everyone grow up!

    May 31, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  3. one nation under god!!!!

    Wow this is laughable,he is harping on this while because of Jimmy Carters anti-semitism we now have to strike irans nuke facilities.By reveling Israels nukes iran thinks its ok to build nuclear weapons.But no we will harp on how many troops ar in iraq.Not only is he naive he is ignorant.He is surrounded by idiots and is supported by idiots.Iran,Hamas and Hezbollah are the enemy you jerk-off not Bush and us republicans.If you want to treat us as the enemy expect the same in return.

    May 31, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  4. lou

    Waaaa Waaaa Waaaa. Is this the look of the future? A crybaby in the White House when we need a real American leader? This guy should be running around in short pants sucking on a lollypop. What a waste of time he is.

    May 31, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  5. Wabigbear

    Everytime the Republicans use that irritating "874 days since Barak Obama last visited Iraq" I just wish someone would come back with "4084 Dead Servicemen and Women dead in Iraq since Bush took us to war", or "$3,000,000,000 Spent on the War and counting..."

    May 31, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  6. Dr.G. P. Matthews

    John McCaine was in elementary school during WW II, what would expect from some that old...he is much too set in his world view to understand that in the modern world people admit mistakes or own up to their mental errors.

    May 31, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  7. Dr.G. P. Matthews

    John McCain was in elementary school during WW II, what would expect from some that old...he is much too set in his world view to understand that in the modern world people admit mistakes or own up to their mental errors.

    May 31, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  8. adam


    GO OBAMA08/12

    May 31, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  9. Louis

    Mccain will never admit he was wrong. He knows it all.

    There goes his downfall.

    Unstoppable Obama!

    May 31, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  10. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Obama should admit that HE has been WRONG for TWENTY YEARS to sit and Listen to RACIST SERMONS in HIS church. And NOW....another old time FRIEND of TWENTY YEARS, rants and raves and MOCKS SENATOR CLINTON?

    May 31, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  11. Kyle in San Diego

    I'm sure Obama will make his way over to Iraq as soon as he has a reasonable opportunity. His campaign has been run very well and usually stays ahead of the game. Obviously he's been tied up in a little thing called "the democratic nomination," so traveling abroad and 'looking presidential' overseas has had to be put on the back-burner. Meanwhile, McCain has had that opportunity, and during his visits, made many misspoken statements. It raises significant questions when a person running for president cannot make the simple act of correcting his/her statement.

    P.S. – Obama didn't need to go to Iraq/Afghanistan to have the good judgment to know that it was a bad idea to begin with. Let's not belittle the work of military advisors and act as if he MUST be in Iraq/Afghanistan to know what's going on, and to formulate opinions. Check the polls, the country agrees pretty solidly on what to do regarding the war, and we haven't been over there yet either.

    May 31, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  12. Brad

    Obama probably has no clue as to how long it takes to redeploy a brigade combat team (BCT) from Iraq through Kuwait back to the U.S. This process takes at least several weeks. By the time the current BCTs that have already started (but not finished) redeploying are finished, it will be end of June or into July – right on schedule. McCain knows exactly what he's talking about. The only reason Obama (and sympathetic 'news' organizations) is hyping it as a major gaffe is because he doesn't want to bask in the harsh media spotlight of his own ignorance of what's really going on in Iraq. His decision to avoid talking to the troops and the commanders on the ground for the past two years, to see GEN Petraeus' successful surge in person, speaks volumes about his true concern for troops and credibility for any intelligent way to resolve this conflict. Many people (and the troops) notice the obvious hypocrisy and don't have any respect for Obama.

    May 31, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. Mary May King

    Tucker, don't you understand? You are just reinforcing Barack's thesis that John does not listen to criticism. First there was the vets education and John said he would not listen to his criticism of your ideas, and now it's the number troops left from the surge and you won't listen to,not even acknowledge criticism. And that sounds a lot like "you know who." He's landed two blows and you don't even know he's in the ring. Oh, the swift boats are acoming, the swift boats are acoming, South Side Chicago style!

    May 31, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  14. VADemocrat

    Has Obama ever met General Petraeus? If he's serious about being President, maybe he should at least meet with this man and get to know him, especially since he wants to be his boss in November.

    May 31, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. Maya


    May 31, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  16. Becky Smith

    Concede defeat to whom is my question???

    May 31, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  17. Gwen Pink

    The response from McCain STILL doesn't even acknowledge the mistake, only changes the subject - and calls attention to the fact that despite visiting Iraq, McCain still doesn't know what's going on there. Gaffe after gaffe shows that. He doesn't know the difference between Sunni and Shia, he doesn't know what the troop levels are, etc. By contrast, Obama's predictions and warnings about what would happen after an invasion of Iraq have proved exactly right. There is no debate as to which politician has a firmer grasp on the realities of the situation.

    May 31, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. Tyler

    He wont admit that he's wrong, he's probably forgot what he said already.

    May 31, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  19. jack shadenfruede

    McSame McSame its not even being taken out of context,Pound him again and again.Troop surge drawn down, Don't let the McSame lackeys in the press change the subject.McSame can't carry Joe Lieberman around to whisper in his ear.

    May 31, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  20. Maria

    McCain's ignorance of the complex politics of this region is also reminiscent of George Bush. He obviously does not understand the multi-layered political system operating in Iran and thinks of Ahmadinejad as the sole source of political authority there, nor does he grasp the power relations in Iraq. To elect yet another President of 'Good' and 'Evil' is to condemn not only the United States but also the rest of the world to at least four more years of pain and misery.

    May 31, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  21. Luis Villa

    Yes, you are right on every aspect about John McCain, "Flip-Flop Brain". He will never accept his mistakes instead he will give his none sense rhetoric that all along he is right. You are no hero McCain. Obama will beat you to the nitty gritty of this Presidential election. OBAMA 08.

    May 31, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  22. Jimmy L. Heidelberg

    Barack Obama is right on target when it comes to owning up to the
    mistakes that the White made when it comes to going to War in Iraq
    we never should have been there in the first place, and to lose that
    many lives in a War that never should have been is a disgrace and
    for John Mccain to pretend that its alright makes me even more
    convinced that he is not the right man for the job if he becomes president we are in for more of the same disgraceful leadership that
    we have now. I beleve in Obama I beleve he can get the job done
    the right way and get back the respect that this country once had lets
    move forward not spin our wheels going down the same dead end road that we are now.

    May 31, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  23. Dianne Bourbonnais, IL

    I've always admired John McCain. Barack Obama has inspired me. It's been my hope that these two men will put stupid politics aside and honestly debate the issues. The "straight talk express" and the "new politics". Come on, guys. You both strike me as two men who try to do things the right way instead of what is politically convenient. Don't get dirty. Get real.

    May 31, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    I am a teacher in Lake county Florida, and I have been watching the dnc and as far as I can see we have been lied to and we did not vote in the county we didnt leave school to vote ,because they said voting for president did't count and the rules are the rules Only voting on the ammendments . Delegates are not to jump up and make this power play power and make those dicisions, for me and others lets abide by the rules period. It's not fare and for Senator Nelson to be voicing his objections to the dnc on the information he was given was not appealing to me. Senator Clinton would not be the lease concern nor Mr Clinton if Hilary was in the lead. She knew what the rules were , what about those that didn't vote at my school and other school in Lake .. I guess we are disinfragize too and we don't count.

    May 31, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
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