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. John in Columbus Ohio

    The only reason Iraq is quiet is because, with nothing holding them down and with Afghanistan wide open, the terrorists have just gone to Afghanistan. We will never "win" unless we remove the underlying causes behind terrorism.

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. Linda. Boston, MA

    So... uh, I guess we can LEAVE then, right?

    July 17, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. ?????

    Okay, then why do you want to stay there???

    July 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. wycliffe, NJ

    Fine. Lets go home now

    July 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Baron

    Well hell, John-why aren't the boys home? Sounds like someone will say anything to get elected.

    I personally don't want a president who gets angry when someone ask him a question.

    Obama 08

    July 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. CLINTON 08 VP



    OBAMA (P) & CLINTON (VP) 2008-2014


    July 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. Devon Spencer

    There is no way to succeed in Iraq other than leaving.

    July 17, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. Terry

    How many lives did we lose? How many soldiers have been injured? How much have we spent on the war that could have been used to revive our economy? Didn't Pres. Bush claim that the war was over a couple of years ago?

    July 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. adam

    "We have succeeded in Iraq." and that's why we have to stay indefinatly.

    July 17, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Venus

    He doesnt know how to win a war! He was a POW for 5-years!

    We need to get out of Iraq -- Bush lied to get us in the war--

    Go Bam!

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. Canadian for OBAMA


    The fact that you have had no attack on US soil since 9/11 has nothing to do with the Irak war. Irak was never involved to begin with (your president had a personal vendetta against Hussein because he tried to kill his dad Bush Sr., it's the first thing he focused on when he got into office)

    If you guys don't put your focus on Afghanistan, you can bet your bottom dollar that you might see another attack sooner than you think, Canada included.

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. Cracka lova

    thats like saying"hey honey I am finished with everything but I gotta stay here"......well if you are finished why do you have to stay ......well I guess I am not really finished.........Mc Cain 08.....for fools

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Parksy

    where's the banner ???

    the only thing that has succeeded in theneedless killing of 4,000+ of out troops.

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. G

    umm how? Well if that's the case than I guess troops can come home now right? Wasn't that the point that success in Iraq allows for troops to come home? One point for Obama Zero for Mccain.

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Don't quit

    We are succeeding and we will succeed, thanks to the surge.

    Obama and most Democrats declared defeat a year ago. They vehemently opposed the surge. Remember folks, remember how the Democrats said Iraq was a "Civil War" that could not be won.

    THINK, what our situation would be if we walked out in the middle of the "Civil War", like Obama wanted to do. Iraq would have decended into chaos, gas would be $10 a gallon.

    We will leave upon success, like McCain has always said. Mark my words, within 2 years, we'll have 60-70% of our troops out of Iraq, under McCain! The Iraqi Military is taking over more and more responsibility. THAT NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED UNDER OBAMA. Obama would have sold out the Iraqi people and left them in a deadly bind.

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Then lets bring all the troops home today.

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Amen!


    You beat me to the punch in making that response. Since "we have succeeded in Iraq", let us not wear out our welcome there. Let us pack our military bags and head to Afghanistain. McDrain has put his foot in his mouth again.

    July 17, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. P P Hernandez, Sunset, Republic of Louisiana

    Per Ok's comment, we succeeded against Germany and Japan and are still there. We lost Viet Nam and are not there. Are you suggesting we loose so we can leave?

    July 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. john

    Great we have won in Iraq!!! Great news but why the heck were 4 soldiers killed today???????????????

    July 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. Ex-Republican for Obama

    ahh...so we succeeded!! Yay, where's the newspaper headline "Victory in Iraq"? Are we going to see all those troops arriving home on ships and planes?

    Let's forget that it's an illegal war that we have won, let's just be looking for the butt load of military men and women to start pouring in back home. What do you say McCain, we won, where are they? Or do you have some form of BS reason why they aren't back here yet? Put up or STFU!

    Start with the straight talk you fool, start with showing us our men and women and not rhetorically claiming victory in a presidential election year. You are a flipping fake!

    Obama '08

    July 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    So now we can cut off funding.

    July 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. charles

    Yes you have succeeded bribing them with money. You just said no timetable for withdrawal. lf you have succeded the reason you are still there is becoz as you always say 100 years. oldman you are getting worse everyday.

    July 17, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. James in Oregon

    McCain is so out of touch he lives on another planet. I have no idea how anyone could or would vote for this guy. The good news is , Obama is leading McCain in his home State........LOL.

    July 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  24. Larry

    The only thing that I can see, that we have succeeded in doing in Iraq

    Is killing a lot of people

    Where's the Mission Accomplished banner, John ???

    More like George every day

    July 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. DPerry

    Wow I would hate to see what had happened had we failed.

    ......and J.P. feel free to correct me if im wrong, but wasn't 9/11 during Bush's presidency??

    July 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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