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. Fella from Chicago

    What the man said was, "Americans are in Japan, Germany, and Korea and are not engaged in conflicts in those countries that are taking American lives. Japan and Germany since the end of WW II (may be for 100 years!), and Korea since the '40's and '50's. America is in these countries for peace keeping purposes and to protect neighboring countries from historical threats such as Communist China, Russia, and North Korea. Hey, it's worked and maybe we'll be in Irag for 100 years to protect the Mideast from the likes of Iran and Syria. No time frame, no American loss of life once the pieces are in place. Senator McCain, stay in Iraq to finish the business at hand, establishing a chance for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to choose if democracy is meant for them or not.

    June 11, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Heidi

    Tell that to the soldiers and their families who are on their third, fourth, and fifth tours of duty!

    June 11, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. Paul, Riverside, CA






    June 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    Why Mccain, why?

    June 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Obama-Junkie, IL

    It only takes a month of "intolerable" violence against Americans in Iraq in July or August, to remind Americans of why they hate this Iraq War and McCain's position on it.

    Remember people, you are talking about a guy who spent 5 years as a Vietnam POW, you really think he gives a hoot about troops being in Iraq 5, 10 or 20 years! McCain himself at his age and health may not be around in 5 to 10 years!

    June 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. No McBush in 08!

    obama supporters won't back hillary in 12 or 16 if hillary supporters don't back obama

    meaning neither of us get our way and the country suffers

    who wins in that scenario? McCain and the oil companies i guess.

    June 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Kathy Corey

    John McCain is absolutely right. He saw what was happening to our troops in Iraq...due to mismanagement and did something about it.
    He broke with his own party to do this. John McCain is in touch with the American people...and will prove that in November.

    John Kerry is out of touch. He spends all of his time running around defending the indefensible...Obama...and ignores MA.
    He is up for re-election this fall and has a democratic opponent in the primary (his first in 24 years) and a republican opponent in the general election. Hopefully in the fall the people of MA can show both Kerry and Obama the door.

    McCain 08

    June 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Becky

    The date is not important? are you serious? you see, this guy needs to be getting ready to Enjoy the Proceeds from his hard work.. retiring... not trying to Veto the Beer

    June 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Mr. Spock

    Mitt Romney wants to be McCain's VP, because he knows McCain won't make it through the first term. Then Romney would take over as President, and return us to the days of Reganism!!

    YEAY!...............................NOT 🙁

    June 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. Veteran in Kansas

    We have a US military that stretch to the breaking point, we are having difficulty in retaining and recruiting to the services, especially to the Army and Marines, but what is important is the number of casualties in Iraq.

    No, what is important is defining the military objectives that will lead to the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. This was a key component to the Powell Doctrine, something this administration violated from day one.

    The military has done a fantastic job. They have accomplished each and every mission objective that they have been given. Iraq is a military sucess, so why are we still there, because our political leaders have failed to identify the strategic military objectives that would result in a withdraw of US combat forces. Our current administration has failed in the seperation of military objectives and political objectives.

    Why has this been so hard to do? It is because the invasion of Iraq was based upon political objectives from the start, not military objectives. The military objective was the defeat of the Iraqi military, the replacement of the government of Saddam. It occurred, now let the politicians finish it. Our servicemen and women are still in Iraq because our leaders to include Senator McCain can not seperate military force from political processes that need to occur to bring this error to its conclusion.

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

    I was appalled when the U.S. attacked Iraq. I still believe there was no excuse. However, I understand that to get out, we must be careful and try to leave behind as stable a government as possible. We created this mess and we are responsible for cleaning it up. I believe Obama would simply pull the troops out and pretend he is not responsible for the chaos that follows-and I understand that there is already chaos. Still, I believe McCain has better judgment than Obama. Obama has done nothing but make pretty, politically correct speeches. I believe that is all he is capable of doing. Just as Bush had no experience; Obama has no experience. Obama is also just as arrogant as Bush. Let's not trade the far-right inexperienced arrogance for the far-left inexperienced arrogance. I would have chosen almost any of the original Democratic candidates over McCain; but, Obama is the Democratic version of "W".

    June 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. The Clear Thinking Indepedent

    John –

    It matters ... 4,100 US Troops dead ... 14,000 SERIOUS maimed or catastrophically disabled by this farce of a war.

    When your opponents mention your comment about stying in Iraq for 100 years, you cry foul and say they are misconstruing your words...

    Yet today, you clearly place Iraq, through YOUR OWN WORDS, in the catagory of Korean (we've been there for 60 years) or Germany.

    The American public did not sign up for this GOP-mandated, unfunded, unplanned, poorly executed, experiment by you and George Bush. Our budget does not support 20, 40, 60 years of spending, at any level, in Iraq.

    Step away from Iraq John.

    June 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. Linda31

    False attack? You are once again on tape. Get with the program, you would think that since this war is so unpopular that you would be careful of what you say, guess not.

    You must be confused if you think when our troops leave Iraq is not important.

    June 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Russell Hammond

    Everyone who is pro Iraq war should be required to join the US military service (College Republicans) or at least offer one "of age" family member to fight. Guess what…no war. It's so easy for neocons to wave the American flag when blacks and poor whites become the low hanging fruit who end up on the front lines. Send those college Republicans who conveniently have "better ways to serve" at home. Blah.

    June 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. Norris

    So how long will it take us to win this "WAR ON TERROR" anyway? Ten, fifteen, twenty more years. Seems to me like McCain is not in too big of a hurry? I mean like, at what point do we say, "it's time to wrap this up? What was the objective of this war anyway?

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Ken in NM

    Exaclty Karen, a soldier doesn't get a say where they are stationed but as citizens of the United States we should get a say where and how our troops are used and stationed.

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. Amy

    Define what will comprise a Win the War in Iraq.

    I have yet to hear Bush/McCain or anyone else describe what a "win" will look like.

    The War was WRONG and we must bring our troops home in the safest manner and the shortest time.

    Understand at 71 years old, to McCain there is no real vested interest in how history will define him from this point forward. He will more than likely not be here in 20 years. It is easy to keep going in the wrong direction when you know that you are getting off at a stop befoe the final destination.

    McCain needs to get real and we need to leave Iraq.

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. DJ, LA, CA

    Nice to see the McCain supporters reaching out to all those loyal Clinton supporters.

    Also nice to see McCain supporters want to ignore the real issues that the country faces...and instead waste time on OLD, DIVISIVE, ACTIVIST wedge issues related to religion.

    Quit wasting my tax money debating GAYS and ABORTION. That's too much information and the federal government shouldn't be wasting time on all that crap yet again. Let the states decide and move on to the real issues.

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. boo-yah

    I think every detail about the war is important. For McCain to suggest that a withdrawl date is not important shows just how out of touch he really is.

    Obama 08 & 12

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Terry, Butte, Mt

    Wow, McCain continues to show how out of touch he is on the war.

    Too bad Lieberman was not around to bail him out again. The date of withdrawal is extremely important to those serving bravely in Iraq and their families back home.

    It is extremely important to those that want to go after those that really attacked us on 9/11.

    It is extremely important to those that want our economy moving in a positive direction again.

    It is extremely important to those that are concerned with the security in Isreal, the middle east and America.

    It is extremely important that we elect Obama as our 44th president to the United States. (Someone who understands our economy, the real war on terrorism and who had the foresight to see the Iraq war for what it really was.)

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Swiss in Canada

    To welcome Hillary supporters:
    I don't spak very well english, so I have a question:
    You are kidding, are you?????
    Susan, Halifax

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Karen explain the date not being the issue to someone’s child who hasn’t seen their parent for more than a year, explain that to the wives and mothers whose husbands and sons have served much longer than they were told. The date is the issue when we spend billions of dollars on this war and our own economy is going down the drain while thousands of homes are foreclosed on. The date is the issue. We have been in Iraq long enough. You and McCain and Bush believe so much in this war then yall can go fight it while our troops come home.

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

    I never understood how people who support war and capital punishment can declare themselves "pro-life". They're not.

    Waiting 18 years to send a baby off to die is still murder.

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. LET IT GO

    Age has nothing to do with it. Even if he was younger I have a feeling he would have been playing the same song. I can't stand Mccain but lets stop being ageist.

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. John B. From New Hampshire

    WOW!!! nuff said!!

    OBAMA for SURE '08
    for the good of the nation!!!

    June 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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