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. Obamalism

    Seriously, I haven't heard Harry Reid spouting 'DEFEAT' in the last few months. Has that guy been right about ANYTHING since the Dems took over Congress???

    July 17, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Rick

    You democrats are such simpletons. Do none of you have the ability to think beyond tomorrow? The entire region over there is a big cesspool and presents the biggest long-term security threat to this country especially Iran which just happens to sit smack-dab in between Afghanistan and Iraq. An ally or two in the area just might be helpful in the future. Oh, and by the way, if we were to follow the dems advice and allow the Islamists to take over you lefties would be the first to go because besides hating non-muslims they hate feminists, they hate gays and they hate abortion supporters.

    July 17, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Obamalism

    It's amazing how angry people are that we're doing well in Iraq...

    Keep proving that you're the party of defeatism.

    July 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. arc, Lugano CH

    Success in a war based on a lie. May God Bless the soldiers who have lost their lives for the Bush/Cheney crusade of 'freedom'. May God bless the women, children, and non-combatants who died alongside them.

    I hope that the soldiers who come home are taken care of in the manner that they deserve and that every one of their needs is met.

    This is not a time for catchy one-liners no matter who you support in the General Election.

    July 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Truth Be Told

    Thsoe who deny the success of the surge in Iraq are the same ones who deny Obama's Muslim backgound.

    July 17, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Damian Salter

    Oh, unless he means succeeded in killing and displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians, creating an unstable oil market, putting an un-nessesary strain and burden on the US economy and military...

    ... then he's not lying!

    July 17, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. mike


    July 17, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. whiner

    then we have no need for you,right?

    July 17, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Stephen of Red Bluff, CA

    EXCELLENT POINT, Tired of W...

    If we've succeeded now, then a gradual, 16-month removal of troops should pose NO PROBLEM. If we're in such great shape over there TODAY, then there should be no issue with bringing them home 21 months from now (which is today plus the 16-month-from-inauguration start date proposed by Obama).

    It doesn't quite fit, Senator McCain. It all sounds a bit too convenient for your campaign. Sound bytes are fine, but we've had enough of those from Bush to last well into the next century!!

    Bring us some hard truths! Bring us some honesty!! We're not idiots and we're through buying all the BS the GOP and Bush administration has been shoveling.

    July 17, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    We have succeeded????? I must have missed that memo, but I want to know what hallucinogen McCain is taking to make him so delusional...must be a wonderful world...like in Czecholoslovakia!

    July 17, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Samuel

    OK!!! This is a waste of vote. John McCain, what are you trying to say. Clearly the war is not won in any way, type or shape so why is John McCain saying this to the American people. No wonder 200 journalist from the US are going to follow Obama to Europe, Iraq and to the Middle east. Do something real and interesting.

    Get serious or else you will lose like never before in the history of America.

    July 17, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. joe

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahah mccain what are you talking about?

    July 17, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Erin in Edmonds WA

    The day after Barak's very excellent and highly intelligent foreign poiicy speech, George Bush has stolen Obama's ideas about negotiation without precondition with Iran re: nuclear proliferation. He is also going to take troops out of Iraq and send them to Afganistan–straight out of Obama's mouth into GWB's ear. He is drastically shifting position in order to garner more votes for John McCain. If he starts what Obama is talking about, then McCain can say–I'll continue the war where it needs to be (ib Afganistan) and negotiate with Iran. As the Iraq war vet once said on national TV: GWB really is a "Chicken Hawk S.O.B." So is JM.

    Republican White House – NEVER AGAIN.

    July 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. Gunar

    He wants another Vietnam. He still pissed about not being able to raise his arms above his head

    OBAMA 08 + 12

    July 17, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Wisconsin


    Good News everyone!

    I declare an end to world hunger!

    Now no one will go hungry.

    All you have to do is randomly declare it and it's true!

    July 17, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. Ken in Dallas

    Why is it now time to declare victory?

    We've declared the escalation (oops, "surge", sorry) over, even though we still have 20,000 more troops in place than we started with, so why not.

    At this rate, when McCain pulls troops out of Iraq completely, there'll still be about 50,000 that will have fallen off the books by then. Is outsourcing the troops to Blackwater just like winning?

    Wasn't there supposed to be something about political stabilization somewhere in the definition of victory? Oh, we changed our minds about that? Never mind.

    The Republican modus operandi relies more on changing how we talk about issues than on changing the actual issues on the ground. That means we could have declared victory at any time during the past five years, and it would have meant just as much then as it does now.

    July 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Dan

    Seriously Senator McCain, try not to defend Bush. It just won't get you to the White House.

    July 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    REALLY???????? WE HAVE SUCCEEDED?????????????????????





    July 17, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Iraq was a mess. McCain said we needed more troops, Obama said no. We did the surge. Iraq is now stable. McCain=right, Obama=wrong. The Chairman on the Joint Chiefs says he's ready to recommend withdrawing more troops and sending them to Afghanistan. Iraq says they are ready for them to leave. All because of the surge. What part of this don't you Obamites get? Oh, and NOW Obama decides he likes the surge, changes his web site that used to be against it, and says we should do it in Afghanistan. If we had done it Obama's way, there would be no surge, no stability, and no troops free to shift to Afghanistan.

    July 17, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. FactCheck

    Put him in a bomber jacket and stick a "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him and the transformation is nearly complete.

    July 17, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Pete in Reality

    So wait. Almost 5 years after Mission Accomplished, we've succeeded? Wow! Really? That's great! Amazing! Dripping with sarcasm!

    I wonder if anyone watching him fell asleep, like he did during the state of the union address. That would be appropriate.

    July 17, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. Joseph

    I'm so sick and tired of people always bringing up that "we haven't been attacked since 9/11 so Bush is doing a good job" but when was the last time we were attacked by terrorist? NEVER they waited until our weakest point with a weak president to attack because they knew exactly what he would do which is what he is doing SPENDING THE COUNTRY TO THE POOR HOUSE. How do think that the U.S.S.R. fell by fighting wars that didn't end how do you think that Britian fell by fighting wars that didn't end and how do you think we will fall ........ I have to give credit where it's due last time you guys posted my message and I thank you for it, let's try for two.

    July 17, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. FactCheck

    > Thsoe who deny the success of the surge in Iraq

    Umm.. who exactly is denying that there was a surge in Iraq. The US sent more soldiers into Iraq, therefore there was a surge, get it? Maybe you should leave the big talk to the grown-ups in the room.

    July 17, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Old white woman for Obama

    If we have success in Iran then bring our children home now. What a load of bull!
    Just a sound bite McCain and we do not buy it!
    Obama 08

    July 17, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. What the...

    Wow, the United States of America presidential candidate claims war over Iraq! You're next Greenland!

    What have we won? High gas prices, a terrible reputation around the world as a bully super-power, 4,500 dead US soldiers and a poor economy. Sounds like a great deal. Shouldn't the worlds #1 super-power be able to beat country's like Iraq? Should we even be trying and boasting about it?

    Independents should learn from past voting mistakes, get this guy out of here.

    July 17, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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