July 23rd, 2008
01:50 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain advisor: His Anbar comment was no gaffe

(CNN) - As John McCain’s apparent gaffe on a familiar topic — the surge - continued to grab headlines, his advisors told reporters that the comment was no flub.

Critics contend that the presumptive Republican nominee had made an error when he argued that “because of the surge we were able to go out and protect [a major Sunni] sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history."

Listen: McCain advisors say his Anbar comment was not a gaffe

In a conference call Wednesday, McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann told reporters that the Arizona senator had not misspoken — that he had intended to tell Katie Couric that the troop surge, which began in 2007, had enabled the success of the “Anbar awakening” of major Sunni sheikhs against Al Qaeda, which began in 2006.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that had there been no surge, the awakening would have been defeated,” said Scheunemann. The situation in late 2006 in Anbar was bleak, he said and a leaked Marine Corps intelligence report that November found that the U.S. military was no longer capable of defeating insurgents in Western Iraq, or confronting the rising popularity of Al Qaeda — largely because Sunnis thought they couldn’t depend on them to stay in the country until it was stable.

“That's in November 2006. The surge was announced in January. Troops started flowing to Iraq in February and March [of 2007],” said Scheunemann. “Some of the first forces were moved into Anbar. They enabled Ramadi to be first cleared and then held. And that enabled the awakening to not only survive Ramadi but spread throughout Anbar and ultimately Iraq. It would not have happened without the surge, and Sen. McCain has been very very clear about that.”

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Fred

    Is this another gaffe or are they saying that Gen. Patreus is wrong? Whoa Sen. McCain, I think thee doest protest to much.

    July 23, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Randy Scheunemann – another dull tool in the shed.

    July 23, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. Paris

    Cnn was so so quick in calling it a gaffe.

    But CNN you Failed to call on all the Obama gaffes.
    The guy can’t even have an interview and articulate what he is trying to say, he can only read off of a teleprompter.

    We want a debate. That is why he is afraid of debating John McCain.
    Obama is all about the Hollywood style politics where McCain is real substance.

    CNN you are betraying this nation by your biased reporting.

    July 23, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. Patriot Souza

    Lets be clear about SENATOR McCain. He will say anything to get out of a foxhole, just like he did in Vietnam. This administration, With McCain has denied ever saying anything wrong about all the flubs this administration has done. They will never admit it, and this media we have will never make them. Just like CBS and Katie, they will change the answer if it looks bad.

    July 23, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Kelly - WV

    This man has lost his bearings

    July 23, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  6. DflateMacsStr8TalkXpress: Econ MIA, AWOL on facts, POW from reality

    O.K. ... another senior moment, then. Now are you satisfied Mr. Scheunemann?! I think I hear whining and have repeatedly witnessed a mental recession, Mr. Scheunemann and Mr. McCain't.
    Middle East policy or history just isn't Grampy Grump's forte. Time for Aricept and applesauce for the whole campaign!!!

    July 23, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  7. President McCain

    In the end, it will come down to whose change are you going to believe in? Whom do you trust to lead our country? Who has paid his dues?

    It always does.

    July 23, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. aaa

    mccain go home!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 23, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  9. we're F*ed either way

    If McCain just keeps his mouth shut he just might win this thing.

    July 23, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  10. Debby, NJ

    Why is McShame and his staff in denial? Why?

    July 23, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  11. Latinos for Obama

    Face it: This guy has lost his Bearings!

    July 23, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  12. Rich in Seattle

    So, their strategy now is to say he's not wrong even though the facts prove he's wrong? But he's not because they say so? Wahat? Seriously? That's the best they could come up with. They aren't even trying anymore. They need to put more effort into their lies and spin. I need to feel it! Poor effort on their part. Are we being "Punked"? Okay, Ashton...you can come out now!

    July 23, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  13. ted

    Lets be real clear about Senator, he's nothing but a creation by the media . Take away his Teleprompter and the guy cant string three words together, ah ah um um well-a you know um i cccc cant think of any reason , lets lets lets be clear . Why dont you be clear, because you cant and your an empty vessel with no ideas except how you change your position tommorrow. To listen to Obama talk to reporters is pain full, he makes George bush sound like Winston Churchill !

    July 23, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  14. tigerakabj

    He is right. It is not a gaffe (slip-up). It is a clear misunderstanding of the facts that is the result of his lack of knowledge. The more intense the campaign pressure gets on McSenile, the more the desperation and the harder it will be for the press to cover up for this idiot.

    Once again, I can't wait for Barack to rip McSame to shreds in the debate(s).

    Obama/Sebelius 2008/2012.

    July 23, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  15. Sean John

    What about us Marines that were in Al Anbar before the surge? Is John McCain saying that we failed and only under his guidance did we then succeed?

    July 23, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  16. Earl

    McWar can you talk about anything but the NEXT PRESIDENT ...BARAK OBAMA?

    You are making him look so good...and yourself like an IDIOT

    July 23, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  17. Donna from Colorado Springs

    McCain has lost total touch with reality. What a pitiful figure of a person he has become.

    July 23, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  18. Bushed!!!

    Paris-- he can only read off of a teleprompter... .McCain Can't read off of a teleprompter...... Oh yea Mr Obama will debate McCain .....Mr Mccain is more comfortable with the Town Hall....he pick out the person he wants to talk to and probaly have some of them staged ...
    Just so you know Mr Cain request 10 Town hall debates and name the Locations.......now he should have sit down with Mr Obama discussed it like a man.....Also McCain tried the teleprompter didn't work for him

    July 23, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Lesley

    The commanders in charge of ground troops argued against the surge in November of 2006 saying it would not add to our ability to achieve success in Iraq because we want the Iraqis to do more, and that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from taking more responsibility for their own future. Apparently McCain feels that our commanders who were in Iraq in 2006 are inexperienced and don't know how to win wars. I thought he listened to our generals on the ground? McCain needs an awakening.

    July 23, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  20. Bob from Santa Barbara CA

    Those who make up the past are doomed to repeat their false memories.

    And, if we elect him, we are doomed to live in a world where all military actions are by definition victories and all victories are by definition military. After all, all reality is subjective. Right?

    Don't let this guy anywhere near the phone at 3:00 am.

    July 23, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |