July 17th, 2008
04:15 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain: 'We have succeeded in Iraq'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/11/art.mccain.7.11..jpg caption="McCain holds a polling edge over Obama on national security issues."] KANSAS CITY, Missouri (CNN) - John McCain took a rhetorical baby step toward declaring victory in Iraq on Thursday, arguing emphatically that "we have succeeded in Iraq."

"I repeat my statement that we have succeeded in Iraq," McCain told reporters aboard his campaign bus in Kansas City. "Not 'We are succeeding.' We have succeeded in Iraq."

McCain made the comments amidst a debate this week over the direction of the Iraq war, and in the wake of new national poll numbers that show McCain with a clear advantage over Obama on national security issues.

Both candidates gave speeches Tuesday outlining new policies toward Afghanistan, but each presented very different plans for Iraq. Obama is scheduled to travel to Iraq as part of a congressional delegation in the coming days.

"The strategy has worked and we now have the Iraqi government and military in charge in the major cities in Iraq," McCain said. "Al Qaeda is on their heels and on the run."

McCain said "the success we have achieved is fragile and could be reversed" if Obama - whom McCain accused of "incredible naivete" - carries through with his plan to withdraw combat troops within 16 months of taking office.

"He said the surge would not succeed," McCain said, a charge he has repeated in recent days. "It is. He said that we had to have dates for withdrawal. He said as recently as a short time ago that the surge had not succeeded, or was not succeeding. It has succeeded. And if we continue, I am confident we will win this war, and I have no doubt about it."

The GOP nominee-in-waiting also backed away from a remark made earlier in the day by his communications director Jill Hazelbaker, who called Obama's trip abroad "the first-of-its-kind campaign rally overseas."

Asked if he agreed with Hazelbaker's comment, McCain said: "No. All I can say is, let other people judge that."

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Ok

    if we have succeeded in Iraq why can't we get out

    July 17, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. not important

    What? How? The only good thing is that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. What is McCains definition of success?

    July 17, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. jeremy

    If we have succeeded, why are we still there? How many "mission accomplished" speeches do they plan to give before action is finally taken?

    July 17, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Rob

    This sounds familiar...

    July 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. JT Johnson

    We did great in Iraq. We can leave as soon as the Iraqis are well enough trained to take care of themselves when the al queda's rush back into the vacuum of our leaving.

    July 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. J.P.

    We are going to be in serious "national security" trouble if Obama gets elected. Say what you want about Bush's handling of the war. What I do know with 100% certainty is that we have had no terrorist attacks on US soil since 9-11, and that is a very good thing.

    July 17, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. White Independant

    Mission Accomplished!!! Thank God now we can all go home....right?

    July 17, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. dAVE


    So we can leave and stop sending hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't have to be blown up for Bush's lies and failures, right?

    July 17, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Saad from NJ

    That's what you said aboard a ship 5 years ago President Bush... Oops I am sorry, you are Senator McCain.....

    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Not Buying It

    Of course he has to say this because Barack just stole his thunder. Barack told the American people that the problem has never been Iraq. So today McCain rushes out and says we've "succeeded in Iraq", so he can now focus on Afghanistan, which Barack has been doing.

    If we have succeeded in Iraq, then why are you talking about staying there for 100 years? He's slick and I'm not buying it.

    McCain is so transparent and I think the American people will decide that he does not have the right temperament to be president.

    July 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. Tom - Cary, NC

    Go McCain! Won't this truth be hard for the whining Democrats to accept!

    July 17, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Lee-- Dallas, TX

    Now can we leave and turn our attention to where it should have been in the beginning. Afghanistan/Pakistan hold those awful people that attacked us those not too distant years ago. Too bad we didn't stick around there when this awful mess was started.

    I'd really like to hear how the definition of success has 'evolved'.

    July 17, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Democrats Unify & Vote Big

    Is McCain running against himself? Every day he says something crazy – Makes you really wonder about his mental state.

    July 17, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Amy

    Succeeded in helping the Saudis, Bush and others get richer.

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. fella from Chicago

    John I'm voting for you in November, but we haven't succeeded in iraq until our troops are out and a Democratic government is up and running and their military and police can enforce the laws of their land. Don't pull a George W. on me and do a premature declaration of victory. We'll obtain all of the goals set forth at the beginning of the war, but not yet. Be patient, John.

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. JIM...TX

    Wonder if he'll fly his own plane on to the aircraft carrier...?...this comes after how many years and young american deaths that Bush uttered those words???

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Tired of W, OH

    Can we get a picture of John W. McBush in a flight suit with a "Mission Accomplished" banner in the background? I'd love to see that.

    Like others have pointed out, if we've succeeded, why can't we get out now? If pulling the troops out within 16 months would indeed plunge Iraq back into chaos, as McBush would have us believe, how can he say we've succeeded. Maybe he should have said "We've succeeded as long as we never leave."

    I say bring our troops home. If Iraq fails after that, it's on their heads, not ours.

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Rose

    I guess putting 100,000 Iraqis on the US payroll to keep down sectarian fighting is winning? How about over 4000 military deaths and Lord knows how many Iraqis. This is winning?

    I just can't believe that Americans could actually vote for this war-mongering fool.

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. whiner

    if we have succeeded ,why cant our troops come home?we havent succeeded if iraq will fall into chaos the second we leave.that only means the factions are waiting for us to leave so they can resume their civil war and secular bickering.we won this war months after we invaded,but,insisted on occupying them until any withdraw appears to be surrender and loss.obama will declare victory ,for our troops and begin a steady withdrawal,to leave the iraqi's to make their own decisions ,and shift our focus to your "forgotten" war in afghanistan.only now are you showing any interest in that country where we should have been focused all along.stop taking credit for obamas foresight and vision and judgement.you only want to remain there to protect bush/cheney oil fields.

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Peter

    If by succeeded you mean "Killed hundreds of innocent people and wasted Billions of dollars for nothing" than your right

    Obama/Biden, Obama/Bayh, Obama/Nunn, or Obama/Richardson '08 and '12!!!

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. Bushed

    Dear JP,

    You can not prove a negative. So I'm not giving any credit to Bush, especially when he broke every Constitutional law on the book. We've pretty much had a dictatorship for 7 years. He succeeded in nothing, but a failed presidency.

    July 17, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. PG

    Really? By the look of things you are wrong McSame. Because American is still there.

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. rice, bryan

    mcbush can't be mcfreakin mcserious can he?

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. lady in michigan

    success.... hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced, ancient treasures destroyed, corruption running rampant, sectarian killings down only because ethnic cleansing has finished in most neighborhoods. Success.... a country in ruins, the US hated around the world, Iran on the rise, the Taliban resurgent.... success....

    As the Germans say, you can't eat as much as you need to puke

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Texans for Obama

    Well, I don't understand. If we are suceeing in Iraq. Why is it going to take 100 more yrs to complete the mission there? McCain, please, do you mean the surge is working? What was our exact mission in Iraq? We were looking for WMD's and Al Queda. We tore the country down then we have to rebuild it, and killed many innocent people and young soldier's. This was for Oil. Alan Greenspan said that in his book.

    McCain, give it up please! Obama for President!

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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