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. Xavier, Saint Louis, MO

    We have succeeded what? What are we even there for? To free the Iraqis? Please, that's the lie the Bush administration has told. If the US was so concerned about freeing people, then why don't we free the people in North Korea, China or Cuba?

    And if we "succeeded", then why are we still there?

    July 17, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. 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.
    However, if we have succeeded, then why does McCain want to stay there. In my humble opinion, this was only and always about oil and placing our forces in the region to protect the supply of oil.

    July 17, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Livonia, MI

    Great, what did we win? Where's the cash prize or the trophy? Will there at least be a victory party and barbeque at the Crawford Ranch?

    July 17, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Travis (in the real world

    I think King George said the same thing "Mission Accomplished"

    Now tomorrow McWar will forget he said "We have succeeded"...

    I see a flip flop,senior moment, misspoken statement coming.

    July 17, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Doris,Memphis,TN

    And now we are getting ready to start talks with Iran.
    Something Barack suggested long, long, long ago.

    July 17, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. Montana is Obama Country

    Guess McWeekender is trying his darndest to get IN FRONT of the Bus before he finds out the Bush Administration does another about face turn on him.. and he is left in the dust..!!

    Nice Try Blinky......my friends..think the real war has been Afghanistan..

    Lets get as many troops home as possible...

    July 17, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. USAF Staff Sergeant

    Success? Not what I've heard from my pals who are still stationed in Iraq.

    July 17, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. MMN-Milwaukee WI

    Three words: McCain voodoo economics

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


    WOW all I did was go to the bathroom and all of the sudden we succeeded in Iraq!

    So all we needed was for McWar to randomly decided that we succeeded? He could of done that years ago! Bush did!

    LOL what a hack

    July 17, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Dennis Coles

    Mission accomplished? Where have I heard that before?

    July 17, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. Elly

    Same old BS
    too bad the american tax payers are paying the bribery money for all them NOT to kill each other
    What a farce
    Same as this new so called friendship with Iran
    If you ask me knowing how deceitful this administration is its likely a big ploy so when they do invade Iran they can say *Well at least we tried diplomacy*
    Sorry but I dont trust Bush Cheney or MCSame

    July 17, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. William Courtland, Waterford, ON

    If one had so much campaign cash? would starting a new industry or business with it not show better representation than a party?

    July 17, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Ardnuas

    McCain is just like Bush...... they BOTH see ONLY what they want to see.....God help us if this man is elected

    July 17, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. Val, Atlanta, Ga

    one word to say "STUPID" we still have men dying there.

    July 17, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. Larry Daffern

    Just another comparison to George W. Bush. They both have their own Alice in Wonderland definition of "success" in Iraq.

    July 17, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. Julie

    Good lord, McCain is eerilly similar to the brain-dead and delusional GW Bush.

    July 17, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    how on earth can these ignorant, arrogant, whackjob neoCONs think that THEY can "fix" a country that doesnt want to be fixed, in a region of milleniums of violence. it is laughable that they think so highly of themselves.

    actually, iraq HAS BEEN a success--for bush, cheney, rummy, bremmer, wolfowitz, rice, blackwater, KBR, haliburton and all the other soul-less, unamerican neoCONs.

    makes me wish i believed in heaven and he!!, just to be able to fantasize about the BLAZING HOT future of all of those unamerican losers!!!!

    July 17, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. bob in L.A.

    Yes we have. we have succeeded in killing 4400+ and wounding 100,000 +Americans. we have succeeded in killing 100,000 of Iraqis or helping to cause their death.
    We have succeeded in having this war destroy our relationships around the world.
    We have succeeded in putting our country in a state of financial ruin.
    So many successes. Aren't we proud?

    July 17, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. Bulldog

    First McCain said Obama was irresponsible for saying he would attack Al Queida in Pakistan if their was solid intelligence. Since calling Obama 'irresponsilbe' our miliarty has attacked Al Queida 4 times in Pakistan.

    McCain calls Obama naive and reckless for wanting to set a timetable to get out of Iraq. Next thing you know the sovereign Iraq government demands we set a timetable.

    McCain calls Obama reckless and an appeaser for saying he will sit down with leaders of countries unfriendly to the U.S. 3 months later the U.S. successfully appeases and negoitiates with N. Korea ('axis of evil') and they begin to dismantle their nuclear plants.

    McCain and Bush call Obama an appeaser and irresponsible for saying he wants direct diplomacy with unfriendly countries rather than threats of war. Just yesterday the State Department announces they are sending a top level official to Iran to sit down and have direct talks.

    Who has the judgement?

    July 17, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. MikeH

    Now we can leave and let the Iranians and Iraqis merge their nations into a Shia Oil monopoly, the natural outcome of Bush's disasterous invasion.

    We invaded Iraq to get their oil, and all we did was hand it to Iran. Which, by the way is why Cheney is frothing at the mouth to attack Iran, to prevent such an oil monopoly, not because of Iran's nuclear program.

    America is truly on a slide down into 3rd world quality of life.

    July 17, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  21. Proud American

    McCain is a Fool!!! What success? What planet are you on McCain... Bizzaro World?! America let us not allow the idiots that have been pulling the wool over our eyes (for the last 8 years) continue to do so..

    July 17, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. DflateMacsStr8TalkXpress: Econ MIA, AWOL on facts, POW from reality

    Sorry, Johnny-boy McLie, no matter how many times you repeat it, we are NOT going to believe it. Your VISION for the Middle East has been so misguided and NO, the surge did NOT accomplish its GOAL which was political resolution. Nice of you to coopt Mr. Obama's policies now that your cover has been blown and you were proven WRONG about diplomacy in IRAN, WRONG about Afghanistan, WRONG about China. McFish, McFlip, McFlop ... a sham in foreign policy clothing.

    July 17, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Debbie

    I guess that depends on what your definition of "success" is. Given the Bush Administration's prediliction to lower the bar in order to minimize their glaring incompetence, this stupid statement doesn't surprise me. It worked for George Bush – essentially the bar was so low if the man didn't pick his nose at ballgames (after 1999) or soil himself, he was considered electable.

    I'd have expected better from McCain. I see all politicians as panderers, but there are degrees and THIS is "the big one".

    July 17, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. karen-phoenix

    McCain does NOT know how to win a war in the year 2008!!! It's not the same as 1965!!! This "war" can not be "won" because its not a war. It is an occupation and we now have to get out because we don't have enough soldiers to do both Iraq and Afganistan. Can't stand McCain's thinking!!!! What is happening now is what Obama said 2 years ago!!! McCain is toooo old for 2008!!!!

    July 17, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. Darth Vadik, CA

    Oh God here we go again

    I guess 300,00-750,00 dead Iraqis, 4000+ dead Americans, 30,000+ wounded Americans,

    the thing gained

    $4.50 a gas


    and if you think Iraq insurgency is over, you wait...

    July 17, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
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