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

McCain makes Iraq gaffe

McCain's comments came in an interview with CBS.

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. Graham P.

    Why does McCain take his direction from Osama Bin Laden? Why does McCain put US troops where Bin Laden tells him too?
    If Osama Bin Laden said "The central front in the war on terror" was Antarctica would McCain agree and surge troops there too and leave Osama Bin Laden to plan another attack?

    Maybe the surge reduced violence in the Iraqi civil war, but I am still with Obama that those 20,000 troops would have made America safer if they were working to deny Osama Bin Laden and his terrorists a base to make their tapes, laugh at us and plan their next move.

    Obama has been consitantly focused on getting Bin Laden and terrorists responsible for 9/11 for 6 years.
    Oposing the distraction of the war in Iraq when it really counted, before we got tricked into fighting in what McCain and Bin Laden call "The central front in the war on terror" Iraq.

    McCain and Bush let Bin Laden get away with killing 3000 Americans by pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

    Judge for yourselves if we would have had a better chance of getting Bin Laden with Obama as President in 2002:
    barackobama.com/judgment

    I ask my fellow citizens to make your vote based on firsthand information and with clarity.
    The one who was right in 2002 should be President in 2008.
    God Bless America and God Bless You...

    July 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. dee

    another one or the same Iraq/Pakistan one..if it is another one- then- what the hell is going on with McCain..does he or does he not want to be the PRESIDENT

    July 23, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. easytounderstand from IL

    Another goof in the white house will just destroy America's reputation. Look at whats happened this past decade first with Clintons impeachment and now with Bush's incompetence. Can you imagine our credibility if we elect another stumbling and bumbling idiot.

    July 23, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Brian

    Hey CNN, how about some unbiased headlines for a change:

    Obama Incorrect on Surge; Refuses to Admit Mistake

    Obama's Election Racketeering Plan

    Obama Contradicts Himself Yet Again

    etc.

    By the way, check out his website on the second one. He's recruiting lawyers to "work the election" in an official group called Counsel for Obama. Remember how he won in Chicago? Yeah its that bad.

    July 23, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Ian

    Alzheimer's '08

    July 23, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. shadowgovernment

    He he, you said "gaffe"...he he, he he.

    July 23, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    -MCSENILE THINKING, OR LACK THERE OF.

    "PUTIN PRESIDENT OF GERMANY" PER MCBUSH SPEECH, 2X.

    CONFUSED SUNNIS & SHIITES.

    CONFUSED GREEN BAY PACKERS for PITTSBURGH STEELERS.

    CONFUSED ABOUT THE FORMER ( 16 years ago)

    --CZECHOSLOVAKIA in NOVEMBER,

    --THEN TWICE THIS MONTH. couldn't figure it out for 8 months???

    CONFUSED ABOUT THE SURGE & THE "AWAKENING", WHICH

    ACTUALLY HAPPENED MONTHS BEFORE SURGE.

    WAKE UP AMERICA,safe to say mcsame is OUT of his MIND.

    July 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. caywen

    The Double-Talk Express! He got his facts wrong, and now has to rely on his staff to distort his blatant disregard for history into half-truths.

    July 23, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. William, from Cali!

    If, it (the Surge) is working; I really don't cares to know the "why", "how" ,and the "who" of it...........it's working! Period.........

    July 23, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Dieter Zerressen, Denver, CO

    Does anyone else get annoyed at McCain's whistling through his teeth (dentures?) while speaking. If he hadn't been a Senator for the last 25 years he'd already be sitting on a bus bench in Sun City, AZ waiting for 4:00 pm to come around so he could drive his golf cart over to the Red Robin for the Early Bird Special.

    July 23, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. John Air Force Vet

    How many mistakes related to foreign afffairs does McClueless have to make before we accept the fact that He is OUT OF TOUCH and dangerously ingnorant. He doesn't grasp past or future realities in the foreign affairs arena.

    July 23, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Change

    Mis speak Mc Cain that is what you are good at tell the truth that your bearing are loosing grip. Senior moments I don't know about you this is scarery for the position he is looking for. We can nor afford a presedent who mis speak 70% of all his statements a day.

    July 23, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Martin

    Grandpa Simpson is going senile!

    July 23, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Tommy

    McCain confusing the truth again? NO! Surely not McDementia.

    July 23, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. bernj

    You mean McCain made ANOTHER Iraq gaffe. I'm shocked.

    July 23, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Sarah

    I don't believe he is lying
    It is an age issue and most of us will make similar mistakes

    McCain needs to consult with his Geriatrician before he talks

    July 23, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Sarah

    don't believe he is lying
    It is an age issue and most of us will make similar mistakes at age 72

    McCain needs to consult with his Geriatrician before he talks

    July 23, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    The Sunni's awakened to the fact their militia was going to be killed by overwhelming American force if they didn't go along with the agenda.

    It's not diplomacy that redirected/restricted Sadir's forces–it was reduced supply chain from Iraq and Syria (courtesy U.S. forces) and the fear of ultimate death!

    You can't negotiate with people whose prime aim is to kill YOU.

    July 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Craig from Rockford, Illinois

    "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.

    Getting a bit strident aren't we?

    Not to mention al Qaeda wouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place if Obama had had his way.

    July 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Nadine

    You would think if McCain was going to blast Obama, he would at least have his facts straight, but then again, maybe facts don't really matter. Straight talk, come on. McCain will say and infer anything to get elected. Egads, its dejavu all over again...

    July 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Rick in Oregon

    Is anyone else finding McCain laughable? The man speaks then sends his campaign people go scrambling to try to re-define what he "really meant". He clearly has no idea about what is really happening in some of the most dangerous countries in the world. He can't keep the basic facts straight, let alone deal with the complex issues that these centuries old societies present. Yet he is willing to continue to put our brave men and woman at risk.

    When I think of that, then his comments are no longer laughable.

    July 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Even my conservative/Republican friends are starting to have doubts about John McCain as president ... although they certainly won't go and vote for the other guy.

    ... and that was before this gaffe by Candidate McCain.

    Perhaps instead of replacing the campaign staff; the campaign staff should replace McCain as candidate.

    July 23, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. How many gaffes become a problem?

    Are you going to at least move this story back up to the top to show McCain's and CBS's responses?

    July 23, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  24. Tired of W, OH

    McCain has another senior moment and they try to deflect it back onto the Democrats. Unbelievable. We are awake, Gas and Oil Party. And we won't be fooled again.

    July 23, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Tony Z- MD

    And to think he is considered a Foreign Policy expert. With all these gaffes, I am not sure he what he knows.

    July 23, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
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