June 11th, 2008
04:05 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain's latest Iraq comments draw fire

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/11/art.mccainiraq.ap.jpg caption="The Obama campaign is attack McCain over his recent Iraq remarks."] (CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign seized on an interview Wednesday by presidential rival John McCain where he said the date when U.S. troops can begin to withdraw from Iraq is "not too important."

The Arizona senator made the comments on NBC's Today Show where he was asked if he had an estimate of when a withdrawal process may be possible.

"No, but that's not too important," McCain replied. "What’s important is the casualties in Iraq, Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw; we will be able to withdraw."

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Obama surrogate and former presidential candidate John Kerry said McCain consistently confuses facts about the war and is "unbelievably out of touch."

"It is unbelievably out of touch and inconsistent with the needs of Americans and particularly the families of troops who are over there," the Massachusetts senator said. "To them it’s the most important thing in the world when they come home. It’s a policy for staying in Iraq."

Later when asked if calling McCain "confused" could be taken as a shot at the 71-year-old senator's age, Kerry said that suggestion was "unfair and ridiculous."

Meanwhile, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said the Obama campaign is launching "a false attack."

“The Obama campaign is embarking on a false attack on John McCain to hide their own candidate’s willingness to disregard facts on the ground in pursuit of withdrawal no matter what the costs," he said.

"John McCain was asked if he had a ‘better estimate’ for a timeline for withdrawal," he also said. " As John McCain has always said, that is not as important as conditions on the ground and the recommendations of commanders in the field."

UPDATE: In a conference call Wednesday afternoon, McCain supporter Joe Lieberman said he's dissapointed with the Obama campaign attacks.

“This is exactly the kind of partisan political game the American people are sick and tired of," he said.

Filed under: John McCain • Popular Posts
soundoff (380 Responses)
  1. An Independent Hillary

    Geez! No one to vote for!

    Obama is too inexperienced and arrogant.

    McCain is too conservative and out of touch.

    No matter whom you elect, we the people lose!!!

    Write in Hillary!

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. martin

    bounds is a dweeb,and mccain IS confused!

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. mdg

    To MCCain 08 at 12:56

    You can't be pro-life and pro-war at the same time! War kills people!
    And your hero vows even more wars if he is elected!

    No one will be fooled with that sanctimonious right wing fear of gay marriage and abortion that got us Bush for 8 years.

    Not this time; not this year!

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Disgusted

    Typical CNN headline spin. McCain is right on this one. It's the casualties that matter. No one is jumping up and down demanding that we withdraw our troops from the 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries. So it's not about having troops stationed someplace it's about what is happening to them while they are there.

    I guess most of Obama's supporters are too young to remember, but we have a historical example of cut-and-run policy already. Just look at what happened when the Russians gave up and pulled out of Afganistan. The Taliban took over and we ended up with 9/11.

    Knowing what I know now, I don't think we should have invaded Iraq. But I told my son at the time that if Saddam didn't have WMDs then he could have averted the invasion by cooperating with the weapons inspectors. He wanted the world to believe he did have them and it worked. And before you Obamamanics jump out there with your "Obama opposed the war" postings, he was not in Congress and didn't have a vote. And based on his inability to press any button but "present" in the Illinois state house I would not count on his being one of the 23 that voted against using force in Iraq.

    No one in the media did the work they should have done to vet the decision making process at the time even though there were plenty of signals (which they ignored) coming from plenty of "sources" that things were not adding up. We know that now. At the time, the Bush Administration was mobilized and labeled anyone who disagreed with them as unpatriotic which effectively silenced most of the opposition.

    Hmmm, sounds a lot like what happened in the Democratic primary...only the label was "racist" and it was Obama's camp that was mobilized.

    We are in Iraq now and we either finish what we started – the right way – or we risk creating another Afganistan or Syria. For Obama's campaign to call everyone who doesn't support their candidate "out of touch" without offering up a workable plan is yet another indication of what we can all expect if he is elected...which is darn little in the way of realistic action for the good of this country.

    PS – I'm a registered independent who has never before voted Republican for president (I detested Regan) but most likely will this fall...not because Obama is bi-racial but because he has no specifics, no track record, and really bad judgment in the people with which he surrounds himself.

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Liza

    McCain has said in the past the we might stay in Iraq for 100 years. At least he is consistent on this one.

    Obama '08 and 2012.

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. L

    Spokesman Tucker Bounds said Obama wants to pursue “withdrawal no matter what the costs” and stressed that McCain was only saying what he “has always said.” Bounds said McCain believes the timetable is not as important as the conditions on the ground, and that Obama’s campaign was trying to “twist and distort the truth. “

    McCain has always said that as long as the deaths of American soldiers didnt increase again then he will listen to the Generals on the ground and will withdraw then, not in 60 days so the extremists can wait until then to wage their own war again on the innocent iraqi's.

    The rest of the interview went on to say that even when wars were ended in Europe, Japan, Korea, Balkans, our troops still remained and are still there now.... Iraq is in more of a civil war now so the troops will be home under President McCain...

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. Peter


    They aren't the only ones. Some crazy guy in Texas has a website set up for just those people. The one's who are so angry that Clinton didn't get it and arent wanting to vote for McCain

    He even says he can make ads to run against Obama.

    Dunno if he really is telling the truth but it's folks like that who are going to ruin this election.

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  8. Ralph

    I refuse to believe single democrat would vote for this idiot. All this, I am going to vote for McCain because Hillary didn't win, is being put out by Repugs claiming to be Dems. I think anyone who thinks McCain is what we need, should just shut up and vote for him. Come Nov they will be losers with him. McCain has NO chance of winning in Nov. He will lose by the largest margin in history.

    June 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. David Newport, OR

    he is wrong...it isn't about casualties. If we have to maintain a force of say...150,000 and something happens that we need our military elsewhere...where will they come from? We cannot be invested like this in a country where we are not wanted. Of course...idiots would rather not look at the obvious...stay the course they scream.

    June 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. KMAN

    "He was asked if he had an estimate of when a withdrawal process may be possible." "No, but that's not too important," McCain replied.

    Obviously, Mr. McWar-Monger isn't concerned about our troops coming home anytime soon ... but many of us Americans are concerned along with the children, spouses and parents of our valiant troops ... they did their job ... they won a military victory and there is nothing left for them to accomplish in Iraq ... thanks to Bush's and McCain's stupidity the problems facing Iraq are now for the Iraqi people to deal with on their own.

    June 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Jason-NoVA

    What a FOOL!

    You think us being based in Iraq will help our image with those who wish to do Americans harm???

    Perhaps we shouldn't be invading other countries and then building permanent bases in them. How about that??? Perhaps getting all the way OUT is the right thing to do.


    June 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Julio

    The comments made by a McCain supporter welcoming "all the Hillary Clinton supporters to the republican party" VERYCLEARLY demonstrates the very narrow, even fanatic views, (reverse Roe v. Wade – stop gays from getting married) and totally, even blithely ignore the serious problems that this country faces. If this were 1692, these same people would be killing cats and burning women at the stake. Their grandparents used the Bible to justify segregation and attacking blacks with dogs.
    The Real Issues:
    -American men and women have died by the thousands in an unjust and unnecessary war.
    -An ignorant, possibly criminally deceitful administration has facilitated recruitment of thousands to the terrorist's banner.
    -Oil Companies have piled up obscene profits, refused to invest a penny in refinery capacity, and raped the American consumer in the process.
    -Utter failure in the Katrina calamity.
    -Uncontrolled Lobbyist and Cronyism.
    -Exposing CIA operatives

    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Teddy California

    McCain's ideas are typically imperial! Do you really believe Germans, Japanese, Koreans welcome American troops stationed in their countries from their hearts? The U.S. is an empire, no doubt about it. But I believe most Americans, especially those in foreign affairs, support McCain's imperial ideas. After Iraq is stabilized and violence is done, of course, Iraqis want Americans to leave. But I think the U.S. will stay there because Iraw is in the center of middle East and it has the second largest oil reserve. When Moguls ruled middle East for a couple of hundred years, their center was also in Iraq. It is a golden opportunity for the U.S. to have a presence in that part of the world.

    We should have an open disscussion of all these imperial things.

    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Jewish Obamaniac

    McCain is a dirty liar. That is all

    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. ObamaIsAlrightWithMe

    Hey Lo Jack:

    Did you count them? 10 to 1? Really??? How does that matter? Does McCain have 1.5 million donors like Obama. Not even close. Did McCain raise close to 300 million? Not even half that.

    Stick to the numbers that matter, MORON!

    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Belle

    Senator Obama, did you know the heat in Rezko buildings in your district was shut off in December 1997? If you did, why did you accept campaign contributions from Rezko in 1997? If you didn't, why didn't you investigate Rezko buildings in your own district prior to writing a letter supporting yet another Rezko building in 1998?

    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. L mckee

    And by the way, the 10 to 1 Vet's for Mccain is ridiculous, maybe 10 to1 officers, but with the atmosphere of the military not to get politically involved or show your support publicly, soldiers have to walk a thin line and most just stay away from it unless they are around friends.

    Besides, a few war correspondents have said off the record that many soldiers have told them PRIVATELY that they support Obama.

    I am pretty sure they are ALOT more out there like the ones that told the war correspondent.

    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Mililtary wife for 18 years

    As a military wife who's husband has been deployed to Iraq TWICE and was in the Gulf War too. I say: LIKE HELL ITS NOT IMPORTANT!!!!!

    Its not only soldiers getting killed its a them coming home without any legs or arms!!!

    For him to compare Iraq to Germany, Japan or anywheres else is crazy and it proves the man is so out of touch.
    You can't compare those countries to Iraq, Duh!!!!!!




    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Peter

    And lets not forget that Reagen helped out with the communist witchunts that Mccarthy was running.

    He sold out his own people

    June 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. skylark

    What the GOP is counting on now is that only the richest people will be able to afford gas to even get to the polls in November!
    By then Gas will probably be 6 or 7 dollars a gallon.(or more)
    I worry about this and how it will affect turnout for the GE.
    Has anybody else thought about this????
    Back on topic:
    What else would McSame say. Polly wanna cracker? He is only parroting Bush after all.

    June 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Above All

    Compairing troops in Iraq with troops in South Korea, Germany, Japan, and other parts of the world is a bit off. First of all, troops can bring their families to most of all the other parts of the world, so no matter where they go, their still home and have all the necessary support structures like school for their kids and jobs or colleges for their wives/husbands. There's no bagdad american high school... Secondly, Iraq and Afghanistan are war zones, the rest of the countries he mentioned are not. Some might argue that South Korea is, but it's not, I know because I live here. Compairing casualties in war zones with casualties in our allies countries is not a legitimate argument... especially when the end of his little soundbite was about keeping troops out of harms way so they could come home with honor. The whole thing made no sense, he gave no strategy for Iraq and simply could have said, "no, I won't accept a timeline." One final note, all these politicians need to stop talking about our honor, It's ours, and nothing you say or do in the capitol will change it, so stop using it to manipulat public opinion. Give us the respect that you say we deserve and pay for my college.

    June 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Mark

    McCain is more than out of touch, he borders on being senile, can't remember people,places, wars, who the enemy is, or who is fighting this war. Hillaries supporters may express thier disapointment with the results of the primary, but in the end they will vote for Obama, I know I am one of them, and I'm a republican. Having survived the Vietnam war too I remember Nixon talking about peace with honor vs. what we got- piece of our !!! shot off while we were making a fast exit. Now look where we are with Vietnam- favorite trading partners. Obviously we didn't need to get into that civil war either. When will we learn. Mark in Pennsylvania

    June 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. randy

    This is a fight of the strong suvive the weak will fall this november.so good ol johnny get ready and one last advice be care ful for what you wish for.

    June 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Progessive

    It would be great if the conservatives writing on this blog could realize:

    1). Being 'holier than thou' does not make you holy

    2). They are NOT better than anyone

    3). They are more they likely whites who think they are 'entitled' to rule the world

    4). White does NOT make right

    5). There is a whole world out there with good ideas they'll never exposed themselve to because of their lust for bigotry

    6). Gay folks are every bit as good as you and sometimes better!!!

    7). Get used to the fact that there a people different than you

    8). YOU are not normal if you hate

    9). Hating others does not make you good

    10). The future will involve settling disputes without bombs

    Conservatives please grow up!!!! Get out of the play pen and join the world of true humans

    June 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Lo-Jack's conscience

    yes, ten out of nine veterans LOVE to be thrust into endless wars with not even a hint of an exit strategy, for no apparent reason, and no clear definition of who the enemy is

    they also LOVE to serve tour after tour after tour, even after their initial enlistment has been fulfilled, only to be denied GI Bill upgrades by John McCain (if they make it home)

    yes, Lo-Jack, keep pulling ridiculous numbers outta your cakes and posting them on the internet; at least 10 to 1 if not more veterans are laughing at your stupidity

    June 11, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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