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. M.S. Indiana

    J.P. and how many did we have before 9.11 ???

    Bring our Troops home McCain !!! or are you just pandering again ?? using empty words for your empty suit ??

    Hey what happened to Iran McCain ?? we can talk to them now ??

    July 17, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. Will, NJ

    Mission Accomplished, Jonny boy?

    July 17, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Rick from Chicago


    McCain has mentioned the non-existant (for roughly 15 years now) country of Czechoslovakia a verifiable 7 times ... AT LEAST.

    And THIS is the guy you want to run the country – a guy who's mind is obviously unfixably stuck in 1994?

    Dubya bombs the WRONG country and your guy wants to defend a country that every other world leader knows isn't around anymore.

    He'll want to defend Babylon next!

    Feeling like a "moron" yet Obamalism?

    If we're doing so GREAT in Iraq, then why did Petraeus (the newly promoted head of Central Command thus the top commander in the Middle East) just tell congress that regarding the progress of the Iraq war:

    "we haven't turned any corners, we haven't seen any lights at the end of the tunnel."

    How about now Obamalism?

    And why did Petraeus also spin like a top and refuse to answer when asked repeatedly "Is what's going on over THERE making us safer over HERE?"

    Isn't that the whole reason Dubya said we were over there for the past 5 years? To make it safer over HERE?

    NEWSFLASH: Even Petraeus wasn't bragging about how GREAT things were going over there!

    So how about NOW Obamalsim? Felling like a moron NOW?

    LOL! You definitely should be!

    July 17, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  4. LMAO

    his national security pointage will go down after this

    July 17, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. Terry Richmond, Va.

    Will someone please wake grandpa up? He's DREAMING!!!

    July 17, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. Abul

    Remember OBAMA said McCain lost his bearing!!! Ithink he was really modest. McCain is crazy and too old to remeber anything what's going on.. how this guy can run the country? No wait a minute BUSH is running this country so anybody can.... GOD PLEASE HELP the REPABLICAN , GIVE THEM SOME BRAIN....TINMANs

    July 17, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. What if?

    ok, mcbush...right before election time we are succeeding, sounds like an echo from his twin.....how many times do you, mcbush think we the people can be fooled with this type of flip flopping?

    i mcshame would like to echo this make believe success story about iraq for the next few months until after november when i have lied my way to become commander and chief.

    July 17, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. NoMccain

    Basic questions to any Republicans out there:

    What does Mccain mean by "succeeding in Iraq?"

    Why are we even in Iraq?

    I'll bet this is why you lose in November.

    July 17, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. Rob

    After we leave Iraq, which we must and we will. A very huge mistake wil surface. Our Air Force in order to keep Iraq and Afghanistan dependant on them and to keep their political position of importance among our own Armed Forces. Have completly failed to revive the combat capability of the Iraq and Afghan. Air Forces. If we have learned anything from our recent wars. It is that air cover is vital for ground forces to be victorious. After we leave and the Iraq military forces struggle without air cover. The Generals and politicians will all be pointing fingers at each other.

    July 17, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. Jim Got, Ohio

    McCain says he knows how to win wars. I wish he would whisper what he knows in the ears of George W. Bush so we can get out of this mess in the Middle East. However, the war Senator McCain was in, Vietnam, I don't think we won............

    July 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. Puzzled

    Tut tut, the same old tedious name calling and Democratic Party orthodoxy. The only appropriate response to these mediocrities is a protracted yawn.

    July 17, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. Ted

    Are continuing deaths success?

    July 17, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. Karen - Missouri

    And by what measure did we succeed? This is McCain's silly season politics once again. McCain never did tell us the definition of "succeed". All for politics and election season. Iraq is still spending OUR money on their country, they have OUR military still there, there's still bombings and killings, so how exactly did we suddenly in a couple days "succeed"?

    July 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. Rob

    In an above post. Rick said that democrats don't get it. That the Middle East is a big dangerous Cess Pool. Yes Ricky we do get it. It is a Big Cess Pool. And we do not want to swim in it .

    July 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  15. John from WA

    This is a joke, right? The Iraqi government hasn't even met the extremely soft benchmarks the Bush Administration laid out. When you have the Sunnis refusing to participate and the Kurds walking out of Parliament, it's hard to buy McCain's election year B.S. Or is he just laying cover for when the Iraqis officially ask us to get the hell out, kind of a "declare victory before they send us home" strategy?

    July 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  16. Gene

    How many times do we have to "succeed" before we stop calling a withdrawal of troops a "surrender"?

    July 17, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  17. Nate

    Yes!!!!!!! Finaly somone tells the truth about conditions on the ground in Iraq instead of spouting the liberal media's lies and half truths.

    July 17, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  18. AT

    McCain now want to spell success because OBAMA, GATES AND THE GENERALS all see Afghanistan as the issue. McCAIN is trying to sound like he has judgement, but he is always 3 step behind,...yet because America is so bigoted as a society, I will have to see what takes place in November. McCain is "half dead" and yet, most white Americans would rather have a hal dead white man who is an empty suit and "fake hero" in charge that the honest leader who has judgement and is both black and white. America is about to self-distruct with John McCain at the helm!

    OBAMA 08, 12

    July 17, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  19. Vietnam Vet

    (UHH what was that mission again?)

    July 17, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  20. Rob in North Carolina

    I really can't tell them apart. McCain is Bush Cheney morphed into one.
    What a great loss of a politician I used to admire and support in 2000.

    Obama is our nation's godsend to redeem our country from the Bush Cheney debacle.
    This is coming from a former republican turned independent.

    July 17, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. Vietnam Vet

    (UHH what was that mission again?)

    OBOY will shrub be PO'd that he wasn't the first to announce it.
    did general petraus give mcCan't on the ree phone? But it's not 3am!
    Oh yeah that's past McSnooz's bedtime

    July 17, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Done with GOP


    July 17, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. Anonymous



    July 17, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  24. CB

    VICTORY!!!!!!!!! Isn't that what McSame has been wanting to claim all along. Because he is mentally unable to LEAVE IRAQ until he's personally declared it!

    So go ahead McSame, declare "victory" – the American public will buy it – just like they bought WMD's.

    I don't hear anyone calling BUSH an appeaser for agreeing to talk to IRAN – do you?


    July 17, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |



    July 17, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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