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. john

    The McCain camp response doesn't even address Obama's points! Is his whole campaign senile??? Instead they try to beat the already dead horse of how long it's been since Obama was in Iraq. What does that have to do with the actual # of troops there? What an awkward and feeble attempt to avoid the real issue Obama raises.....

    May 31, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. wyoming dem

    Give it a rest on the day count McSame!!! Just because Obama hasn't been there since 2006 doesn't mean diddly. The war is a train wreck and the American people know it, the generals know it and the troops are admitting it. He will go when he is the nominee. Just like you did.

    May 31, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. John

    Mac knows what is talking about, not like Obama who has no idea about what is going on in Iraq, but knows that people will vote for him for crying out about mistakes and never admitting any progress.
    McCain 2008

    May 31, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Laidetea

    McCain is not going to admit to his mistake. You can count on that. Hillary hasn't admitted to herself that she's lost the race.

    May 31, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. John, OH

    Not conceding defeat; withdrawing.

    He's going to Iraq, so I'd hardly say he "refuses" to.

    And what does the rebuttal have to do with the argument?

    That is all.

    May 31, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Hillary is NUTS!

    Liars have a hard time telling the truth and admitting their faults

    Bill Clinton – Impeachment, lying, Iraq

    Hillary Clinton – Failed Campaign, Iraq, Bosnia, Ireland, China, Health Care, NAFTA

    John McCain – Iraq, All Wheels dropped off his straight talk express, Iran, Sunni, Shia, Losing his bearings

    George Bush – EVERYTHING! Iraq, 2000 Elections, Iran

    May 31, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Dori in AZ

    The great United States Senator, Carl T. Hayden, who served Arizona & our country well for decades & whose name is forever attached to many special places in our state (including the Veterans Medical Center in Phoenix & the main library at Arizona State University in Tempe) would be ASHAMED of you, Mr. McCain.

    If Senator Hayden were still alive, he'd put John McCain in his place.

    In memory of Senator Carl T. Hayden. . . We miss the great leaders!

    May 31, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. G. Penley

    Every anti-American terrorist on earth will be dancing in the streets if Obama gets elected.

    May 31, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Hans-Erik Iken

    That guy Tucker Bounds is not answering the challenge before him and yet th question is simple: is the number of troops back to pre-surge levels or not?

    Why are those guys always shying away from a straight answer to a simple question? It is not that hard to check numbers is it?

    This pathetic attempt at spin and to obscure the issue is very weak. I expected more from the 'Straight Talk Express' campaign.

    May 31, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. BOLA

    We don't need another 4years of McCain/Bush. Go Obama 08'

    May 31, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Jim in Indiana

    The AP had the figures in today's newspaper. Prior to the surge, there were less troops and less brigades in Iraq.

    Those are the facts. Obama is right to call McCain on this.

    McCain is referring to the projected number of troops and brigades at the end of July. But he says that it's less now. He is simply wrong.

    May 31, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. bill for barack

    You have to be smart enough to realize you've made a mistake in the first place in order to apologize for it.
    Is McCain that smart ?
    I doubt it.

    May 31, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Desmond Sequeira


    May 31, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Rich

    What "credible evidence" is Tucker Bounds talking about? That McCain says he can "look someone in the eye" claiming that things have quieted down while 3 suicide bombings happen within hours of the statement.

    And the troop levels are clearly not down to pre-surge levels nor is there a timeline for them to be. Verb tense nit-picking? Where did they get this Tucker Bounds character?

    May 31, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Joey

    Go get 'em, Barack! You reason well, and you have the truth on your side. McCain is showing over & over again that he is part of the problem, not the solution. It's about time we cleaned house and kicked these hardened warmongers out!

    May 31, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. trying again

    You Obama supporters constantly blog that any "true democrat" will vote for the democratic nominee- i.e, the great Obama. And that HRC supporters are idiots if they vote for McCain since Obama and Clinton are virtually identical in policies and views.

    Well then...?
    Why did you all vote for Obama and refuse to vote for HRC, if they are so similar in platform? Why do you criticize Clinton then? Is this an election on substance or a popularity contest? Your contradiction would indicate you are voting on personality ONLY.
    CNN is too biased to give equal time to anti-Obama posts.

    Why, then, did Michelle Obama herself say she would have to think about voting for HRC, were Clinton the nominee of the party? Does this make Michelle Obama an idiot? Does that mean MIchelle is NOT a true democrat? Why would the spouse of ANY candidate be hesitant to vote for the party nominee?

    Why is criticizing Obama, racism- but trashing, bashing, insulting Hillary Clinton acceptable and fun?

    You robots for Obama are superficial, hypocrits incapable of logical reasoned and informed decision making. Your own blogs prove it.

    May 31, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Kathy

    Boy do the Republicans know how to spin spin spin. They make statement they know are false and the american people with half a brain know they are false. He has not refused any meetings with generals or refused to go to Iraq Etc Why should he and it is not even what is on most people minds. Gas here is 4.19 and it is the economy!!!!!!! I can feed my family if I don't get to work.

    May 31, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. Mr Independant

    874 Days? lol, Expect desperation from the RNC! Americans are done with Bush and anyone who clings to his policies. We're taking our country back in 08' It's time to come together friends. Dems and Republicans vote to end this war and begin to change our energy policies. Expect a landslide!

    P.S. We loved you Hillary, until it became about you and not whats best for our country. Saying Obama cant be Mccain is absurd. Shame on you Hillary!

    May 31, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Joe Reed

    This is typical of Bush, McCain and the Republican leadership...never admit that you are wrong on anything. Period. ....that's what I call arrogance....and the books on the truth on Bush are just starting to come out. Wait until Bush leaves the White house and look for the tell all best sellers...I personally can't wait to read what Colin Powell will write.

    May 31, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Bush, McCain, GOP and CLINTON voted to send 4100 troops to there death and for what? That is the real story here!

    1. Is Iran stronger or weaker since Bush’s invasions of Iraq?

    2. Has Osama bin Laden been killed or captured since Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    3. Are we paying more for gas now or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    4. Is our economy better of now or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    5. Is the White Houses creditability better now or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    6. Is the budget deficit higher now or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    7. Is the Middle East more peaceful now or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    8. Do we have more American Solders dead or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    This WAR has cost us so much; it is unbelievable that damage that Bush administration has done to this nation. The saddest thing about this WAR most of the American cannot comprehend what has happen during the last seven years of this administration. Further, McCain wants to go down the same road as well disgruntled Hillary supporters! Go figure!

    May 31, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. Phil Newton

    Come on, McCain. Be a big boy, say "oops" and move on.

    Because Mr Obama is right: If you can't admit you made an error, you can't be my president.

    We've had one of those. One too many.

    May 31, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. deroy

    OBAMA should admit all his mistakes that the media has not reported leave the presidential race immedaitely.

    resign from his NO-SHOW job in the senate and report to the trinity DIS-unted church to his true master rev WRIGHT, the father of his children.

    May 31, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    McSame comments we'll hear all summer long. When does McSame go to Iraq for his walk down safe streets there?

    May 31, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. pam Eugene OR

    Admit it McSame. You are just like Bush!

    May 31, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. windsock

    Whenever Obama opens his lying, hypocritical self-righteous mouth, i hang up my windsock to take advantage of all that free hot air.

    May 31, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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