Would there have been fewer troops in Iraq if McCain won the presidency in 2000?
July 18th, 2014
03:30 AM ET
6 years ago

Would there have been fewer troops in Iraq if McCain won the presidency in 2000?

CNN and National Journal joined forces Thursday to explore the 2014 midterm elections at the first "Politics on Tap" event in Washington D.C. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, joined CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brianna Keilar and Peter Hamby, as well as National Journal’s Ron Fournier, and Michelle Cottle for the private gathering. Check out some of the best highlights from the event on our Storify page.

(CNN) – It’s hard to imagine that one of the most vocal supporters of sending troops to Iraq during the 2007 surge, now says that in hindsight, he would’ve acted differently if he were in charge.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that had he won the presidential election in 2000, he would’ve been more hesitant about sending troops to Iraq.

“You’ll find this surprising, but I think I would’ve been more reluctant to commit American troops,” McCain told CNN’s Jake Tapper and Ron Fournier of the National Journal at a “Politics on Tap” event in Washington on Thursday.

As a Senator, McCain voted in favor of sending troops to Iraq in 2007 and became a leading advocate for committing additional troops to the region. He also voted against requiring minimum periods between troop deployments that year.

Despite his change of position now, the Arizona Republican and former prisoner of war says that doesn’t have regrets about voting in favor of the surge in 2007.

“If presented with that same evidence today, I would vote the same way,” McCain said. “I respected and trusted the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. But it’s obvious now, in retrospect, that Saddam Hussein – although he had used weapons of mass destruction – did not have the inventory that we seem to have evidence of. Which now looking back on it, with the benefit of hindsight, (the evidence) was very flimsy.”

While McCain says he wouldn’t have changed his vote, he does feel that he would have been more cautious about accepting the evidence presented by the administration at that time.

“I think I would have (voted the same way), but I think I would have challenged the evidence with greater scrutiny,” McCain said.  “I think that with my background with the military and knowledge of national security with these issues that I hope that I would have been able to see through the evidence that was presented at the time.”


Filed under: Arizona • John McCain • Republican
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Doyle Wiley, MI

    OH MY GOD!!! I have to say it, "you lie"

    July 18, 2014 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  2. Marie MD

    Oh please . . . . . if the AZ senile had won the presidency we would have less troops in Iraq because he would have sent the rest all over the world.
    We would also be the laughing stock of the world with a dumb screeching vp.
    This story is laughable. This guy wants war with everyone. Thanks for the Friday am laugh though.

    July 18, 2014 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  3. old age voter

    No; there would be a support force capable of helping the newly formed Iraq nation.

    It would not be like Obamas foreign policy that has the middle east in flames; Russia invading other countries and now shooting passenger planes out of the sky.

    America and the world in general would be a much better place!

    July 18, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    -lord bless you, I am glad he is not the president. He would have gone to Iran, further ruin the entire middle-east, including grown hatred even in African Muslim-run nations too. I am so relieved he is not, I mean, not the president. Now this nation is much better shape. Stocks hit more than 17k. Jobs are coming back. True.

    July 18, 2014 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  5. Tampa Tim

    McCain lost in 2000, he lost in 2008, what part of "he lost" does CNN not understand? If McCain had beaten Bush, or beaten Obama, the world would be in ashes by now.

    July 18, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  6. Mark Briscane

    Certainly! A very confused and disgruntled OLD man...Moreso since Barack Obama trashed him in the election.

    Mark

    July 18, 2014 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that had he won the presidential election in 2000, he would’ve been more hesitant about sending troops to Iraq.
    -----------------------------------------------------More hesitant than whom?
    This is the second McCain story in asd many days with glaring grammatical errors.
    In the other story McShame allegedly said that he could not understand why anybody in their right mind would NOT shoot down a commercial airline.

    July 18, 2014 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    No, I don't buy that at all. McCain is a hawk and always has been.

    July 18, 2014 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  9. Malory Archer

    Not only would there be more troops in Iraq, he would have started at least three additional wars elsewhere.

    July 18, 2014 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  10. Walter

    McCain is trying to have it both ways: "Yes...but." Instead of calling him a maverick, maybe he should be called a YESBUTT.

    July 18, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Thing is, I no longer care about John McCain. Certainly not 14 years after the fact. To be even clearer, America no longer cares about John McCain and hasn't since he lost his bid for president in 2008.

    Though of course not to be confused with John McCain's mistaken belief that he is the most important being in the world. Why he feels this way is his personal embarrassment to overcome.

    I only question why the media allows that fallacy of his to continue year after year.

    July 18, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Here's the acid test? What was McCain's position during the first Gulf War that kicked Saddam out of Kuwait? Was he in favor of crossing the border into Iraq and continuing on to Baghdad, or not?

    July 18, 2014 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    “I respected and trusted the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. But it’s obvious now, in retrospect, that Saddam Hussein – although he had used weapons of mass destruction
    -----------------------------------------------------
    "Respected" and "trusted" as in past tense?
    Is McShame trying to lay the blame on the messenger versus the person or persons responsible for giving the message to the messenger for delivery?
    I'm trying to recall seeing Colin Powell out in the desert looking for WMD and reporting back that they were indeed there.

    July 18, 2014 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  14. an Iowan

    Time to head to the assisted living facility Senator!
    You have completely lost it!
    You knew there was no WMD back in January 2003 when GW lied to the nation during the State of the Union address!
    It had already been proven there was none yet you backed him in the unprovoked attack of Iraq!
    You remember Joe Wilson right or is your memory not that good?

    July 18, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  15. salty dog

    Old age voter, so why was the region on fire the two thousand years before he took office, your pathetic, I find it hard to believe anyone could be old, and still that naive. JA.

    July 18, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  16. GOP = GREED OVER PEOPLE

    If McCrypt had been elected in 2008, you would have to sacrifice your firstborn to the Armed Forces, before the family got food stamps.

    July 18, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  17. smith

    I think we would have worse off if the Maverick would have won in 2000. The fact that McCain wants arm sunni radicals in Syria is disturbing. The evil terrorist of radical Islam that are our primary enemy are sunni radicals not shia or alawati. McCain fails to understand this.

    July 18, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. smith

    I think we would have been worse off if the Maverick would have won in 2000. The fact that McCain wants to arm sunni radicals in Syria is disturbing. The evil terrorist of radical Islam that are our primary enemy are sunni radicals not shia or alawati. McCain fails to understand this.

    July 18, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  19. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Probably, if the BLACK HEART Cheney wasn't there.

    July 18, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  20. Progressive Texan

    Shouldn't the question have been, would there have been "fewer" troops...? The answer is yes, there would not have been a sufficient number to divert from the wars in North Korea and Iran.

    July 18, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    old age voter

    No; there would be a support force capable of helping the newly formed Iraq nation.

    It would not be like Obamas foreign policy that has the middle east in flames; Russia invading other countries and now shooting passenger planes out of the sky.

    America and the world in general would be a much better place!
    ----------------------------------
    Sounds to me like it's past nap time for you. You're confabulating again.

    July 18, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama

    McCain is a "maverick' don't ya know? As such he is allowed to pontificate his maverickness until the cows come home (and have been home for hours) without interruption.

    Also too.

    July 18, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  23. g

    theres a good chance for mccains world war three ,the old war hawk does not want to die alone ,he wants to take as many americans as he can with him

    July 18, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Would there have been less troops in Iraq if McCain won the presidency in 2000?
    ----------------------------------------
    Not only would there be "less troops", there would be fewer people because the entire region would radiation scorched from McCain's war delusions. I think the poor man is an improperly diagnosed case of PTSD.

    July 18, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. materialman80

    If McCain was president, we would have troops in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, North Korea, Ukraine, and

    July 18, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
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