July 22nd, 2008
10:57 AM ET
14 years ago

McCain camp targets Obama's surge policy; Obama defends


Watch Giuliani take aim at Obama over his Iraq comments

(CNN) - As part of John McCain's plan to maintain pressure on Barack Obama over Iraq, the Arizona senator plans to take aim at the Illinois senator over his comments to ABC Monday night suggestion he would still oppose the surge policy.

In an interview with ABC's Terry Moran, Obama - who initially opposed the surge of troops in the war torn country in January 2007 - said he would still oppose the policy, even though it has been credited with curbing violence.

"These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult," he said. "You know, hindsight is 20/20. But I think that what I am absolutely convinced of is that, at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is increasingly becoming a prominent surrogate for McCain, aggressively targeted those comments Tuesday morning in an interview on CNN's American Morning.

Watch: Giuliani takes aim at Obama

"The reality is, that Iraq is now 80 percent safer than it was a year ago, before the surge," Giuliani said. "The fact is, everyone is talking about the fact that it is successful. And the reason that we can talk about withdrawal on success, rather than withdrawal with loss and ignominy, which is what we were talking about earlier, is because the surge was successful. It would seem to be he would admit he made a mistake in not supporting the surge."

Obama defended the remarks Tuesday, telling reporters that it was unclear what would have happened if the plan he had advanced in January 2007 to push the Iraqis towards political reconciliation, and commence a phased withdrawal, had been adopted.

“I am pleased that as a consequence of great effort by our troops, but also as a consequence of a shift in allegiances among the Sunni tribal leaders as well as the decision of the Sadr militias to stand down, that we've seen a quelling of the violence,” he added.

“But as I emphasized a year ago, two years ago, and as I have to emphasize today, ultimately, whether or not we're going to have a functioning Iraq is largely going to depend on the capacity of the Iraqi people to unify themselves, to get beyond some of the sectarian divisions that have plagued the country, and to start setting up a government that is working for the people. “

He also said that he had not proposed “a precipitous drawdown.”

“What I've proposed is a steady, deliberate drawdown over the course of 16 months, and I emphasized that to them,” said Obama.

Meanwhile, Obama supporter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson defended the Democratic presidential candidate's comments as consistent with his continued opposition to the war.

Watch: Richardson defends Obama

"Senator Obama has been consistent in opposing the war. I mean, what he basically said with the surge is it can be judged a success if it brought political reconciliation among the Iraqi parties," he said, also appearing on CNN Tuesday morning. "That hasn't happened.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. Sarge in Florida

    Grandpa is talking crap about Obama now..I can't wait for the first TV debate between them. Watch grandpa get red as a beet and he might just try to hit Obama. Grandpa gets way too angry and I sure as hell don't want his bad hand on the button to start WWIII...McShame would be a another disgrace to our country if GOD FORBID he gets into the White House. CNN why are you shutting down comments in here at 1:00pm in the afternoon when there are only 9 posting about McShame? Did his team call someone there and say SHUT the comment section down about him??????

    July 22, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Obama Picks the Right Battles

    Because we starved Afghanistan of troops while focusing on Iraq, 9 servicemen died in a brazen attack by Taliban and al Quieda forces. Where was John McCain’s much vaunted “”foreign policy experience” on that? I know where Obama’s views came down. He’s been arguing for more US troops in Afghanistan for more than a year now …

    Hey John, can you make the same claim?

    July 22, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. The Don

    Whatever McCain! Just bring our Troops home now!!!!

    July 22, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Mike from Westchester

    Love My USA July 22nd, 2008 11:09 am ET
    Has anybody heard if Barack Hussein Obama has served in The American Armed Services? This is for all you Barack voters. From Barack's book, Audacity of Hope: 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'HE DID NOT SAY STAND WITH AMERICANS!!!!! Think about it….
    People, this is an absolute lie taken from some slimey right wing website. The quote is an abosolute falsehood.

    Like Barack Obama, I love THE USA, but am sure I would detest "YOUR" USA. Please crawl back in your hole and practice saying, over and over, MR PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA! Obama is a loyal American and a true patriot!

    July 22, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. Willow, from Iowa

    Oh, and Guiliani is the one person that should talk about foreign experience. He was the MAYOR of a city, he doesn't have any foreign affairs experience at all, and he tried to be President. I think Obama has more experience than Guiliani.

    We need to quit policing the world, begin diplomacy, show respect for other countries, while being strong and moral. And quit doing what McCain and all of his cronies are doing–calling everybody our enemies. that's not a good way to get along, that's for sure.

    July 22, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Richard

    I am an Iraq war veteran and McCain is WRONG.

    If the surge worked so well then why not bring us home?????????

    July 22, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. VON BISMARK, Vienna

    If Obama had his way=4000+ AMERICAN LIVES saved=a booming american economy =millions of iraqi lives saved= a better world.

    Right GEN. mcWAR?

    July 22, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Uncle Sam

    What does victory in Iraq mean McSame??? You can't answer, because you honestly have no clue. You have no plan and you flip flopped on your stance on Iraq. I know you have a hard time remembering what you say. But you said (and you brother Bush) that if the Iraqi people ask us to leave, we would have no choice be to leave. Now when you are asked, you look just like you did when you were asked about Viagra and birth control. Duh!!!!!!

    July 22, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. The Don

    Peace is not a one way street McCain. Every party involved in the fight has to be involved in the peace process too. Most of the success in Iraq , I believe is as a result of the religous and tribal leaders buying into the peace process and believing that the different political, tribal, religous, geographical, and ethnic doctrines in Iraq can co-exist and work together harmoniously for the betterment of Iraq. Once they believe that each of those factions are entitiled to an equal and role and responsibilty to build a beter Iraq, and that they are all equally proud of their country, it is the beggining of peace, which is what we are seeing. I think the added militray presence has been good in helping teh Iraq people feel safer, but it was not the result of this peace that we see.

    July 22, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Sarge in Florida

    I hate BUSH but is Obama the president yet.
    He is acting like he is
    Before he is president he is speaking with the Iraq president about troop withdrawls.
    Isn't that for the current president to do
    Is he arrogant. I understand that in his private meeting he can discuss whatever he wants but he should not make it public record as he could be undermining political efforts already being taken by the current president

    Jeff, maybe he's talking like a president because Bushy boy only wants to talk about WARS and do you really think other world leaders want to continue listening to Bushy boy. You have it all wrong. Are you not tired of hearing from Grandpa's mouth..SURGE SURGE!!!! It sounds like a broken record that keeps skipping...Do you even now what a record is? Remember keep paying Al-Sadr the millions to stop attacking our troops. Once the money stops Sadr will start up the attacks again.....

    July 22, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain has resurrected the dead, Guiliani. I'm not sure what old man McCain wants, whether it's to destroy Obama or destroy our country or maybe just to destroy the world. Scary.

    July 22, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Dems Unify & Vote Big

    Guiliani – an authority on foreign relations? Is this the best the McCain campaign could drum up? Why even bother?

    July 22, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Secret Mission

    Why did McCain attempt to sneak Phil Gramm out of his campaign in the middle of the night? I mean I know he called Americans “WHINERS” and said that the economic slowdown is only a “MENTAL RECESSION”, but isn’t Dr. Phil Gramm (Economist) the primary architect of Senator McCain’s economic plan?

    McCain has already stated he knows ZERO on the economy. Now This? I’m sure he will trot out some replacement but the principles from Gramm are going to remain embedded in McCain’s plan, otherwise it was a bad plan to begin with.

    July 22, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. The Surge

    Yes, the surge has worked wonderfully...let see

    – skyrocketing oil prices;
    – higher fuel prices;
    – a Trillion debt and growing;
    – 4300 plus Soliders lives lost;
    – a homeowner/mortgage crisis;
    – bank collapse;
    – weakening economy/dollar;
    – poor international relationships;
    -etc etc etc

    Yes, the surge worked wonderfully...

    Obama 08/12

    July 22, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Griff

    When are these Few people who Back Borack, realise! The few thousands that blog on CNN, has got npothing to do with the Ten's of Million who Vote, on Election-Day.. You are the Few!!!!

    July 22, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. SCC

    The surge is probably responsible for the problems we are having at the "Pakistan/Iraqi border". ....Maybe we should ask Czechoslovakia for help....

    Does it get much more clueless than that? Last thing this country needs is another moron running the show...

    Obama '08 and '12

    July 22, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Rave

    Giuliani is a moron. He is McPain's pimp.
    They are all acting as a bunch of high school sissies who are Jealous
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    July 22, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Craig B

    How can Rudy critic anyone about foriegn policy and say that Obama has no experience when he is not experienced, last I remember one day in history does not make you an expert on foriegn policy

    July 22, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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