July 21st, 2008
11:29 AM ET
14 years ago

McCain picks apart Obama's Iraq policy

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/21/art.mccain.ap.jpg caption="McCain is criticizing Obama's Iraq policy."]
(CNN) - In the world of politics, it used to be a hard-and-fast rule: "Politics ends at the water's edge" - the old Washington practice that when politicians used to travel abroad, their political opponents often refrained from criticism, at least with regards to foreign policy.

But as Barack Obama continues his trip throughout the Middle East, John McCain sharply criticized the Illinois senator Monday morning over his initial opposition to the surge policy in Iraq and his short resume in dealing with foreign affairs.

Watch: Obama, al-Maliki meet

But McCain aides told CNN last week they consider the trip chiefly political in nature - an attempt by Obama to burnish his foreign policy credentials - and said both his campaign and the Democratic National Committee shattered precedent by attacking McCain while he was in Europe and the Middle East in March, and during his recent trips to Canada, Colombia and Mexico.

Listen: McCain camp on the offense

"Sen. Obama has said this is going to be a listening tour. We certainly hope very sincerely he listens to the advice of our military commanders," McCain senior foreign policy adviser cheunemann said in a campaign conference call Monday morning. "The question is whether he will listen to them. Or will he ignore their military judgment on the importance on having a conditions based withdrawal and supplant it with his own military assessment which is really based on a political calculation rather than any experience he has."

Those comments echoed the remarks of McCain earlier Monday.

"We are winning the war and Sen. Obama was wrong," McCain told CBS. "He railed against it. He voted against the surge and he said it would fail. He was wrong there, and there's very little doubt in my mind that he will see for himself that he had a gross misjudgment and he will correct that."

McCain made similar comments in an interview on ABC, taking subtle jabs at Obama for failing to meet with the top U.S. general in Iraq, David Petraeus, until now.

"I'm glad that Senator Obama's going to get a chance for the first time to sit down with General David Petraeus and understand what the surge was all about, why it succeeded and why we are winning the war,” said the presumptive Republican nominee. “And that is because we carried out a strategy which has succeeded, and Sen. Obama rallied against, voted against, and used his opposition to the surge as a way of gaining the nomination of his party."

McCain also criticized Obama for not doing more as chairman of a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee to deal with NATO's involvement in Afghanistan. Since assuming that chairmanship two years ago, Obama has yet to hold a hearing dealing with the ongoing war in that country - though Sen. Joe Biden, the chairman of the full committee, said last week those issues are dealt with at the full committee level, not Obama's subcommittee.

In the network interviews, McCain also took jabs at Obama over his proposals to battle the county's economic woes, and defended his own experience on the issue.

"I have far more experience on the economy than Senator Obama," he said on NBC. "I'm very strong on the economy. I was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee on Science and Transportation, which addresses all these issues."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (312 Responses)
  1. Mizzy

    In response to: "Hillary is the Only One Who Can Beat McCain
    I don't care what Obama or McCain say and do between now and November, millions of Hillary backers will never vote for Mr. Selected Not Elected Obama. I live in Florida, and i won't forget who disenfranchised me.

    I really hate to burst your bubble, but the only one that disenfranchised you, was your own Florida state politicians-who are Republican if you didn't know this!
    Grow up, learn about your own state gov't and quit blaming others just to satisfy your bruised ego. My goodness, you would think that no other woman will try to run again, let alone Hillary? The female gender will have another try in 8 years-even I will jump on that bandwagon! But stop propagandizing a ridiculous notion–Hillary actually tried (& succeeded) to pull the wool over the eyes of the Florida electorate. Hoping to tug at your heart strings and sense of so called "fairness."
    You can't agree AND sign to the DNC rules before Iowa, and then change your position after you start losing. Didn't make sense then, and doesn't hold water now!!! Get a grip folks.

    July 21, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. JohnyC

    WOW! This post seems to have several experts on war and strategy! Folks, war is hell. It may sound harsh to say this, but the men and women in the armed forces "volunteered" so. There was no draft or anyone forcing them to fight for our freedoms and protection. I personally do not care for either candidate. It is time to do away with both parties and elect an independent to the presidency. McCain is clueless on most issues, and Obama has no substance. Oh well, just my 2 cents worth.

    July 21, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Pat Metheny

    WOW! At theis stage, Obama shouldn't even say a word. McCain is out there getting his Grumpy Old Man on. Thankfully this process is almost over.

    July 21, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Tom Eyemdaman

    @David Armendale

    Only your logic. The inverse would be that McCain would not want our troops staying there 100 years if they're being injured or killed.

    The fact is that McCain doesn't want our troops there any longer than they have to be, but the timetable will be based on conditions and not just an arbitrary goal set by politics.

    July 21, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. JohnBoy

    Good for McCain. He needs to expose Obama for the empty suit, mouthpiece, that Obama is.

    Let the debates begin.

    McCain 08

    July 21, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. Dems be dopes

    Since when does a Senator aka Wacko Barako make foreign policy?

    I thought Congess did that, right after they lower gas prices.

    July 21, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. Amanda

    Why can't Obama just go away!!! Oh that's right because the media and CNN won't let him!!!!

    Hillary 2012 & McCain 08!!!!!

    Obama = NEVER!

    July 21, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Ken Carroll

    How many times is Obama going to visit Iraq this time out? He could stop off in Kuwait for an hour or two, swing back thru Basra or Kirkuk and presto – a foreign policy expert with three trips to Iraq under his belt. And think of the savings in jet fuel.

    July 21, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. Glenncon from NJ

    What happens when we win in Iraq? is Al Quaida defeated? is our economy and prestige restored? Do we acheive energy independance? Is Osama Bin Laden brought to justice? We have been asked by a Soveriegn Nation to leave. Why should we insist on staying? whats the end game? I think we should restore Democracy in America and Give Al Quaida a real war! John McCain is a great American. Pleas don't Disparage him. His foreign policy decisions will seal his fate come election time....Republicans have replaced social welfare with corporate welfare and they have deferred to an administration that was both careless and reckless. The time of reckoning is upon them.

    July 21, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. dodo

    Franco, you don't know where Barack stands on issues because you don't listen or listen but don't understand what he is saying. Instead you rely on the McCain campaign and the joke of a media to clarify things for you on what Obama says. Come on man, open your big ears and listen or at least go to their websites and read for yourself because everything is detailed there!! Unless of course you can't read!

    July 21, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. No More McSame

    Sen. McCain, 70% of us STILL oppose the surge and we know that we are not "winning" in Iraq. All that has happened is that the "insurgents" have gone into hiding and are biding their time until we are gone. When that happens, they will take over Iraq, transform it into the Islamist state they've always wanted, and declare Jihad on the West. Bye bye Iraqi oil!

    Criticize all you want, because we aren't listening. We don't need an old man with old ideas at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There will be no Bush III administration, so don't give up your Senate office just yet.

    July 21, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. John

    The only reason Obama made this trip is to make it look like he knows whats going on. The whole trip is sham just like Obama himself. It's been easy for Obama to sit on the sidelines and let the big boys play. Now that he has been invited into the big game it really show how inadequate he really is to play the game.

    July 21, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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