July 23rd, 2008
08:45 AM ET
14 years ago

McCain makes Iraq gaffe

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/23/art.mccainiraq.ap.jpg caption="McCain's comments came in an interview with CBS."](CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign is seizing on a incorrect assertion by rival John McCain that the surge of troops in Iraq was responsible for spurring the so-called "Anbar Awakening" - in which Sunni leaders stepped up their efforts to battle Al Qaeda operatives.

The McCain campaign responded that Democrats are attempting to diminish the role U.S. troops have played in stabilizing the country over the last 18 months.

McCain's initial comments came in an interview with CBS Tuesday night, during with the Arizona senator was asked about Obama's argument that a Sunni revolt against Al-Qaeda and the addition of U.S. troops both played a vital role in diminishing violence in the country.

Election Center: Where McCain, Obama stand on Iraq

"I don't know how you respond to something that is as - such a false depiction of what actually happened," McCain said. "Colonel MacFarland was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history."

But Obama's campaign noted McCain's timeline is off. It has been well documented that the “awakening” he referred to got under way in September of 2006, close to four months before the surge policy was implemented. McCain himself used the in-progress Sunni uprising in January of 2007 to advocate the surge policy.

Watch: Petraeus opposes Obama's plan

Responding to charges McCain had misspoken, spokesman Tucker Bounds reiterated the campaign’s position that the surge was "responsible for the reduction in violence we have seen over the last year and a half."

"Democrats can debate whether the Awakening would have survived without the surge, or whether the Shiite militias would have unilaterally disarmed without US troops and our Iraqi allies disarming them by force, but that is a transparent effort to minimize the role of our commanders and our troops in defeating the enemy, because to credit them would be to disparage the judgment of Barack Obama and praise the leadership of John McCain," Bounds also said.

"If Barack Obama had had his way, the Sheiks who started the Awakening would have been murdered at the hands of al Qaeda, and US forces would have already left Iraq in defeat," he added.

Filed under: Iraq • John McCain
soundoff (436 Responses)
  1. Lana

    Gramm may be back in McCain's campaign.

    McCain just needs to pack it up. He's lost

    July 23, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Reality Check

    McConfused didn't graduate 894 out of 899 from the Naval Academy for nothing.

    McConfused doesn't have the intellectual capacity or mental stability to be president.

    July 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Janice

    This is no suprise Mccain has consistantly made gaffes and some he repeated on different occasions. Mccains camp likes to talk about the media coverage Mccain isn't getting aa much of but doesn't mind the media being more critical of an Obama gaffe than Mccains. If Mccain had more coverage he would just makes gaffe after gaffe. Thats why the media followed Obama on the tour not because he's a great guy but the story of a gaffe abroad. If the media was looking for gaffes all they had to do is stay here and cover Mccain he's made 2 om just a week. Mccain is proving on a daily basis that he would be a worst president as Bush and he doesn't understand the challenges were facing in the 21 century or have the policies counter them.

    July 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. margaret mead

    perhaps his handlers should allow only scripted interviews the way they did with W in the beginning until mccain grows into the job. he is not doing well with eastern europe either, nor does he seem to know much about birth control issues.

    July 23, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. roland

    I wish my comment will be published this time.



    Come November 5th 2008,the sun will rise from the east,and Obama will be pronounced new preident elect of America. And the blind will not see it but here the rousing jubilation from far and wide.


    July 23, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. David Peter

    This old fool doesnt know what he is talking about. zzzzz

    July 23, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. SM

    Not the first time he miss fires. It has been a trend.
    He confused Al -qaeda with the Iranian supported shia miliias
    He confused somalia with sudan
    He confused Iraqi borders with afghanstain
    He doesn't remember what he had vote for before
    He still talks about a country that doesn't exist since 1993
    And now......? you can fill in the blanks

    July 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Sarge in Florida

    The old man is losing it!!!!!!! People wake up and smell the Old folks home....CNN once again your "MODERAITOR" is closing comments about McShame way before it should be closed. Last article only had 44 comments and it was closed already. Have you Karl Rove on your staff now?

    July 23, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Arkansas Undertaker

    Well they all do make mistakes. Campaigning as long as they have and his age has something to do with it as well.

    July 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    Looks like Grandpa McCain got caught "stretching" the facts just a bit again. What next – the "surge" that he supported ended the Cuban Missile Crisis or that the "surge" help end the Cold War?
    Seems that the "surge" will eventually help to end poverty and world hunger if Grandpa McCain can figure out a way to spin it that way.

    July 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Veteran in Kansas

    The military operation to dispose the Iraqi government was a huge success. The Diplomatic process to replace the Iraqi government was a huge failure.

    The sucess of the surge was based on the performance of the troops, but more importantly, the game plan of one General Petraous, who has stressed getting into the Iraqi communities and engaging the population. At very best, the surge by its self did nothing more than stabilize areas that American forces were "occupying", the true success came about through the "diplomatic" efforts of the American Military, right down to the lowest enlisted man engaging the Iraqi people to take charge of their own situation and get involved.

    In my humble opinion, the belief that Iraq requires a military solution, is narrow minded and inept, headed for failure, the constant proclaimation that al Qaeda is a major threat in Iraq is equal to crying the sky is falling the sky is falling. While we shall have some military forces in Iraq for quit awhile, the solution to the problems in Iraq are diplomatic and political, and General Petraous , not our political leaders, has taken the first steps forward in activity engaging the Iraqi's in the security and the rule of their nation. It is something that could have been done within days of the collaspe of the Iraqi government, had our administration known what it was doing.

    July 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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