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. jackson from Iowa

    Mccain give it up

    May 31, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  2. terry

    The surge is working. The area is growing more stable every day. We can not crawl into a shell and give up. What we will see in the near future is another democracy in the world, just like Germany and Japan. Let Barrack Hussein Obama run the country and we will be speaking Arabic.

    May 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  3. Bessie K.

    The Republican Party has done a great job of holding our Democratic Candidates accountable for what they have said. But when it comes to taking their own medicine, they refuse. McCain's resistance to addressing his many blunders should not sit well at all with his supporters.

    May 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  4. Chris

    All Obama is saying is its Ok to admit when your wrong. Especially when its something so simple!! What if it was something more controversial? And Obama is right, don't act stubborn like Bush. Look at whats going on with Iraq. Admit your wrong and move on.
    The spokesman had nothing useful to say in their response. McCain is the one ignoring the facts not Obama! Troop levels after the surge will be 10,000+ more.FACT!
    874 days since Obama visited Iraq. OK 1800+ days since McCain + Hillary +Bush sent our troops in Iraq on false intelligence.
    The Republicans are finished, they have nothing.

    Obama '08

    May 31, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  5. Cindy in California

    Keep chipping away Obama, you are on the right track. McCain has constantly misspoken about the Iraq war, and he has not once been able to admit he got the facts wrong.

    McCain needs to do his homework, and stop thinking we are buying the lies about the Iraq war. The old adage goes" fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" I sincerely hope we as Americans don't allow ourselves to be lied to again about the war. Too many of our young men and women have died because of misinformation from the Bush camp.

    May 31, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. Judy

    On this I wonder about two things; first, why is Obama talking about visiting Iraq at this time and secondly, Obama has never let the public forget that Clinton voted for the war in Iraq yet accepts the support of senators and others who also voted for the Iraq war. Look at the list of senators who have given Obama their support and you will find that most of them voted for the Iraq war. It appears to be ok for a senator to have voted for the war if they support Obama yet for Clinton and those who support her their votes were wrong. Talk about your double standard. If Obama beleives so strongly that those who voted for the war were wrong then he should reject the support of anyone who voted for that war.

    May 31, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. jr

    We all feel betrayed here and will not vote for Obama! When we had a chance to due a revote Obama made it impossible. He found a way to cheat Hillary out of the votes and delagates that she deserved to get. I refuse to vote for a manipulative cheater like Obama. More than once he has devided the party. He is not a uniter by far. If he is the democratic nominee, we will vote for McCain! Hillary has been betrayed by her own party!

    May 31, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  8. CD

    Mr McCain's time was eight years ago...before the nomination went to George Bush. Now he's an old man, past his prime. It's kind of like Clinton, this is her time and it is slipping away.

    It is so sad to see McCain having to take George's money, but ashamed of being seen with him. Very sad.

    May 31, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. Gary Chandler in Canada

    McCain is NOT a straight talker.

    May 31, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. Dawn

    He has some nerve......why doesn't he start with his laundry list of lies and gaffes.....he truly understands nothing about foreign policy....

    May 31, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. sharon

    Talk about mistake making> Was it a 20 year mistake to not drop out of your church?

    McCain 08'

    May 31, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  12. Cooper

    Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. That is all McCain can focus on – our "success" in Iraq, and how Obama needs to focus more on Iraq. I call his position "wrong and strong." He reminds me so much of a certain sitting President. I guess that is why, behind closed doors, Bush is fundraising so heavily for McCain – the two amigos. Let's get out of Iraq responsibly and put this country back on the right track. I try to see more depth in McCain, but there is nothing else he puts forward. Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. This country is so much more!

    May 31, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. Jim in FL

    Obamouth. Visit Iraq. Just shutup and listen. Let the troops tell you what is going on. Doh !

    May 31, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  14. Rational Thinker

    Obama is correct.

    Didn't McCaine ( if he continues his way I will have to start saying McSame) say will be respond to reporters? I thought he meant he will respond honestly, if this is what he means my responding to reporters; he is no different than GB.

    May 31, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. Howard

    I would worry about waking up to a landslide Democratic victory in November too if I was a Republican.

    May 31, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  16. Monte

    Here he goes again! Talking is circles and the media in all their stupidity, believes him. What happened, just a few months ago, when it looked like Hillary may be the winner, John McCain was your best friend.

    May 31, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  17. Superdelegate Bob, CA

    McCain is a mean and stubborn old man. It is time to put him out to pasture.

    May 31, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  18. roger dowdle, lockhart, Tx

    McSame can't be expected to be up to date on troop levels- heck, he isn't even sure who we are fighting in iraq. So Obama hasn't been to iraq in 874 days, who cares? At least he isn't requiring a battalion of troops to put themselves at risk so he can have a photo op. If anyone noticed, McBush's winning strategy calls for the war to be over in his successors term, so he can shift the blame for failure!

    May 31, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  19. Operation Elephant

    These guys are something else. Why aren't we talking about the federal budget or non intervention/intervention issues?

    May 31, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  20. JonRoss

    Splitting these types of hairs makes Obama look foolish.

    May 31, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  21. Clevelander

    I truely believe that our next president should be able to admit if he/she makes a mistake. How are you different from Bush if you can't courageously admit your own mistakes. You can only be a stronger leader if you do admit that you are wrong and learn from your own mistakes!

    This truely shows what John McCain will be like in the future as a president. I urge my fellow Americans, please do NOT buy into John McCain's message. Wether it's Obama or Clinton, we need a strong leader who can get us out of Iraq, restore our leadership in the world, improve our economic condition, and give our next generation a better place to live.

    NO John McCain, PLEASE!

    May 31, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  22. Willis, Texas

    McBush camp seen more interested in Obama's travel schedule than getting the fact straight. As a voter, I am not interested in the days counting for Obama to visit Iraq - I am interested in getting the troops home!!!!

    Who is inexperienced and lacking in knowledge about Iraq? Oh no, not the plastic "general" McBush. He claims all this experience and cannot reward the troops with an educaton - wants to keep them in the military fighting like robots!!!

    McBush has lost his grip and his memory!!

    May 31, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  23. Mary Kansas City, Missouri

    When Obama has secured the nomination, that will be plenty of time for him to go Iraq. McCain has been over a few times and still isn't able to distinguish between Shiites and Sunes. Soon the world will see McCain as the fake he really is. I wonder if he still hates Korean Americans. He really doesn't know what he's talking about. When confronted he gets angry and mean. Look for his mean streak to surface in the course of the elections.

    May 31, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  24. Kirk in New York

    I don't think that McCain is a bad guy. i think he's far better a Republican candidate than GW ever was. But Obama has a valid point, and it's a point of character. Admitting when one is wrong is a sorely needed commodity in the White House right now.

    May 31, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  25. Issue #1

    I'm tired of dragging the issue of Iraq everywhere. Do you think all the troops want to be there? My friends didn't want to be there any longer since the thing dragged on so long.
    I'm ready to hear what else McCain has in his plans for the country. Iraq isn't even issue # 1. I want to know what he plans to do about inflation, gas prices, health care, the ever growing price of higher education, the ever diminishing choices in higher education, the failure of No Child Left Behind (more drop outs that before), secure Afghanistan and end Bin Laden's run, Immigration, the economy, etc.
    We've given enough to Iraq. We've our blood and money. We secured Iraq so Bush can fly in secretly and Amadinejad to walk around in broad day light. This has made a mockery of the blood we've shed there. We should be ashamed of the work we've done there. Iran has more influence in Iraq than its Liberators. Give me a break!

    May 31, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
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