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. Wisconsin


    LOL just the other day we NEEDED to stay in Iraq!

    are you kidding me! This is quaint, isn't it.

    July 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. Shasta

    Where did this come from?

    July 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. Texas Trail Dog

    PEOPLE PLEASE DON'T VOTE OBAMA INTO OFFICE AND LET HIM DESTROY WHAT OUR TROOPS SO BRAVELY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. WE NEED BASES IN iRAQ AND WE NEED TO KEEP THEM THERE. No withdrawing of troops. Withdrawing is only for cowards and people like OBAMA's supporters who are only efficients in a mob.

    July 17, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. km

    We already succeeded? I thought there would be more of a party.

    July 17, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Nom Deplume

    I love the derision of success from those who know nothing of success or what it takes to achieve it.

    Democrats, by and large, are not successful people. Those that are typically work in academia or government, where the threshold for "success" is much, much lower. Some are smart, but have no ambition, meaning that they have succeeded by holding positions requiring intelligence but little else.

    Further, having degrees does not make you successful, especially if they were practically handed to you simply for regurgitating the right lines. I know Harvard Law grads that can't hold a candle to attorneys from "lesser" schools, and Harvard Univ. students that can't complete a thought. Scary.

    When it comes to things in life that require hard work and dedication, those that succeed don't stay democrats for long. I guess that is why the central tenet in the Dem party is to punish the successful.

    A Former Democrat

    July 17, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. Capt. Jack

    If national security is important to you then you better vote McCain. Obama will not keep us safe and YOU know that. Obama is a friend of the terrorists. That's why they have all endorsed him.

    July 17, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. NotFallingInLine.org

    Senator McCain opposed Rummy and the Bushies back when that was not at all popular among Republicans.


    What has Obama done again? Given a pretty speech?

    Our party's leaders have completely failed us.

    NOT FALLING IN LINE behind failed leaders and their selectee.

    July 17, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Michelle, PA

    Not another Mission Accomplished?!?

    July 17, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Don't quit

    You people are so stupid. Obama and the Dems wanted to walk out during the so called, "Civil War" The Dems have been declaring defeat for the past 2-3 years. If we would have walked out during the Civil War, the region would be in chaos and gas would be $10 a gallon.

    The surge is working and will work. Within 2 years, we'll have 70% of our troops out of Iraq, UNDER MCCAIN.

    Let our troops win.

    CNN, if you have any integrity, you'll post this.

    July 17, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. NY

    I'm sorry Mr. McCain, but what "war" exactly are we going to win in Iraq, of all places?

    July 17, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. charles

    first you say we have succeeded then down the line you finish by saying you have no doubt we will win. too much war in yr head.

    July 17, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. DJ, LA, CA

    So John are you going to have another celebration party on the aircraft carrier, do some fist bumps, put a flight suit on again like GW did?

    Mission Accomplished I thought was already declared?

    July 17, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. Kiah

    JP...um 9/11/01 was under BUSH! Just in case you forgot.

    July 17, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Ken

    Another "Mission Accomplished" by another Disaster-in-Charge wann-be. If we've done so good, then get them out of that civil war...and let's start fighting the war on terror.....yeh, you remember, that war the right-wing knows how to flap-at-the-yap about, but has had no stomach to fight.

    July 17, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. Shawna

    If this is what the President considers success, then I'd hate to see the outcomes of his future plans for the economy.

    July 17, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. what?

    hmmmmm....the parents, wives and husbands can thank McCain while they take flowers to the graves of the 4000 soldiers who died in that ILLEGAL WAR. HELLO...WE SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAVE BEEN THERE...those who attacked us on 911 were in Afghan. you know the place John was saying was just fine..
    if as McCain says " failure breeds failure" then there is NO winning in Iraq.
    lets get the bad guys (i am talking about Bin Laden, Bush is another story) and bring our kids home, invest the money we save in the economy then pay back all the money we owe China....
    does any one know what happened to the 2 trill they "lost"?

    July 17, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Ex-Republican for Obama

    DPerry, I am an Obama supporter, but I hate to break it to you:

    While we can say that the day it occured GWB was in the white house, what we must remember is that during the EIGHT years it took to plan out, Clinton was in office.

    Clinton failed us, and Bush had to deal with it (and Bush has done a horrid job of dealing with it, but be fair and place blame where blame is due).

    July 17, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    apparently mccain was one of the clueless 13% on CNN's poll that actually believes that iraq is the frontline for terrorists, as opposed to afghanistan.

    i dont think mccain's crack campaign team has told him that those white house talking points arent really TRUE, it's just what they send out to the righties like beck and oreilly to keep the haters hating!!!

    July 17, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. W.

    Mission Accomplished!

    I guess the 150,000+ troops currently in Iraq are just getting suntans. Did he make this statement while wearing a flight suit or standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier? Oh, by jingo!

    July 17, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Wisconsin


    So MCSame agrees with Obama that we can get out now? Has it been 100 years already?

    Oh I found the small print, "the success we have achieved is fragile and could be reversed".

    So when CAN WE get out?

    When we elect Obama President!

    July 17, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Chuck

    Yes we did succeed in Iraq, or shall I say it appears we did. However, McCain can not take credit for the surge as it was not his idea. The surge was requested by the generals on the ground and the forces commander in the area. Yes McCain voted for the surge, however, it is not his credit to take.

    July 17, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Texas

    Obama wanted to walk out of Iraq during the so called "Civil War"

    Gas would be $10 a gallon and the Mideast would be in complete chaos if we would have listened to Obama.

    We are succeeding and we will succeed.

    July 17, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |

    RIGHT. . . .



    OBAMA 2008/2012
    YES WE CAN!!!!!!!!!!

    July 17, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. srw

    What a dummy. He's outlining the perfect argument for bringing our troops home. If we have succeeded, the Iraqi government wants us out, and even the Pentagon is suggesting that we withdraw troops at a pace faster than even Obama has called for, why, McCain, why must we continue to maintain such high troop levels?

    Obama gets beat up for saying he may refine the pace of withdrawal, but at least you know where he stands on Iraq. We're going to get out. McCain's position is so jumbled that no one knows what to make of it.

    July 17, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Mary

    REMEMBER: when McCain said “this war is going to be easy”? Then when he realized it wasn’t he said “those who thought it would be a walk in the park were wrong”

    REMEMBER: Year 2003 : Mission Accomplished!!!

    Oooops: We need more troops!!!

    REMEMBER: Year 2008: We have succeeded in Iraq!!!

    Oooops: We can’t leave Iraq since I forgot to mention that the reason its calm is because we are paying these people to not fight!!!

    Oooops: Politically Iraq is still a mess!!!

    July 17, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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