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. Lizzie

    The haters are out in full force today.

    July 18, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. sonny chapman

    The 2000 Presidency he's talking about was when George W & Karl Rove sunk him in S. Carolina w/rumors of a Black Baby.

    July 18, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. S.B. Stein

    If he knew then what he knows now, would he have voted for the attacks on Iraq would have been the better question. It seems that he would have been for it no matter what. I think that I would have waited for a full inspection before invading Iraq because of several reasons: fighting a necessary war in Afghanistan; would need more troops for the fight in Iraq; concerns about Iraq and populations and their reactions; time to rebuild and how much of our money it would take with no obvious way to be paid back. This is just off the top of my head. This doesn't include the Shia-Sunni conflict that is centered in Iraq because of the two different groups that are there.

    July 18, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    Lizzie
    The haters are out in full force today.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    Well, nobody's FORCING you to be here, ya hater.

    July 18, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. jeff

    This is incredible, put your finger in the air and see which way the wind blows. That's easy to do when you've lost an election and a member of the crap pile that is the United States Senate.

    July 18, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. salty dog

    You know you rwnj should ask yourselves, where would we be with four more years of bush/gop policies, now that's something that's truly frightening. I'm very thankful for Mrs. Palin, who would of thought the gop would let her on the ballot, yup, she's all yours.

    July 18, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. Sniffit

    On today's episode of Senior Moments with Grandpa Troop Surge....

    July 18, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. drake mallard

    After you take down Saddam Hussain's government, , "then what are you gonna put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government in Iraq, you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off... it's a quagmire ... if you try to take over Iraq... How many additional American causalities was Saddam worth? Our judgment was not very many, and I think we got it right."

    Dick Cheney invading Iraq in 1994,

    July 18, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. rs

    McCain has become the "Dr. Strangelove" of the GOP. Not only would the war in Iraq have been more costly (yeah, hard to imagine that), and involved way many more Americans, but to sit there today and hypothesize about not only what he would have done, but play Monday morning Qback to that too ought to tell us how removed from reality the GOP is right now. Fantasy piled with delusion filtered by rose colored glasses.

    They didn't win the election.
    They screwed up the war.
    They didn't get bin Laden.
    The war didn't "pay for itself".
    And on and on.

    No amount of fantasy fixes that, sir.

    July 18, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. rick

    I was under the impression. That you actualy HAD TO BE A AMERICAN BORN CITIZEN to be elected to presidency?? And big ego JOHN was NOT born here from what I have found out.. And every time he opens his mouth its either invade.. Bomb.. Blast.. Or the like.. Seems like he has some real issues from being a POW.! Ever heard of 'The Manchurian canidate'?? Every time opens his mouth.. Thats what everyone I know say about him.. Even started in on his threats within a few hours of news about flight MH17 with very little actual information.. He is so adamant about starting another severe war its like he must have his own button at home he pushes for fun..!!

    July 18, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. rs

    Lizzie

    The haters are out in full force today.
    _______________________
    As someone who has voted for McCain, I resent that. Look, the Right is off its rocker- and that is simply truth, not hate. What I hate is that the GOP has self-selected to make itself irrelevant, and turn its remaining supporters into delusional, fact free stoners unable to see the disaster the GOP is and has created. It says much when even the old Maverick now spouts the lunacy of the GOP.

    July 18, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Lizzie

    Malory Archer, just checking what hateful and nasty things are said today.

    July 18, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. labman57

    If Al Gore had won in 2000, our true reason for invading Iraq - control of oil fields - would have become less relevant, as we would have made a much more concerted effort to invest time and money in the development of alternative energy sources.

    July 18, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    rick

    I was under the impression. That you actualy HAD TO BE A AMERICAN BORN CITIZEN to be elected to presidency?? And big ego JOHN was NOT born here from what I have found out..
    -------------------------------–
    This was a minor issue that was quickly laid to rest by the GOP in the 2008 race. Yes, McCain was born in Panama, but he was born in a military hospital on a U.S. military base, which is technically U.S. soil. That argument is what just barely kept the birther crowd under control before the election. After the election, you know the rest of the story.

    July 18, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. stormchaser 101

    Bomb bomb iran.I think that say' it all

    July 18, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. Luc

    are you kidding looking back who cares he can't even remember what he had for breakfast yesterday.

    July 18, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Malory Archer

    Lizzie
    Malory Archer, just checking what hateful and nasty things are said today.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Perhaps you should "check" yourself first babe. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes on these message boards has read enough of your postings to conclude the old adage "those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" applies.

    July 18, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. OBAMA - THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    Does really matter on that point. What does matter is our military might not have been slashed to pre-WWII levels. Its not so much using the military as being seen as a force and in the event we HAVE to use it. The federal government main roles have expanded so much beyond what was originally intended like the military, infrastructure and border security. We should have had a large highway bill but now we have healthcare and everything else so expect less.

    July 18, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. Malory Archer

    Rudy NYC

    This was a minor issue that was quickly laid to rest by the GOP in the 2008 race. Yes, McCain was born in Panama, but he was born in a military hospital on a U.S. military base, which is technically U.S. soil. That argument is what just barely kept the birther crowd under control before the election. After the election, you know the rest of the story.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Actually, the military hospital hadn't been completed and wasn't open to servicemembers when geezer was born, so if he was born in Panama, it wasn't on a military installation.

    July 18, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @Lizzie
    Malory Archer, just checking what hateful and nasty things are said today.

    Turn on the news Lizzie. Watch your friends attack poor children trying to get a better life in America. Watch your friends holding signs of our President with a bone in his nose, or depicted as a pimp. Watch my Governor try to explain why he won't meet the Sandy Hook Elementary parents and then veto a magazine clip bill.

    July 18, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "We should have had a large highway bill but now we have healthcare and everything else so expect less.

    Care to tell the class who has largely blocked that effort and forced the stimulus package, which contained a lot of funding for infrastructure projects, to shrink and shrink so that the funding for infrastructure projects had to be smaller? Hint: they hate construction worker unions.

    July 18, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. rs

    OBAMA – THE OPEN BORDERS PRESIDENT

    Does really matter on that point. What does matter is our military might not have been slashed to pre-WWII levels. Its not so much using the military as being seen as a force and in the event we HAVE to use it. The federal government main roles have expanded so much beyond what was originally intended like the military, infrastructure and border security. We should have had a large highway bill but now we have healthcare and everything else so expect less.
    _____________________
    Maybe... if the GOP hadn't given away $trillions of federal revenues to the 1%.

    July 18, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. smith1

    Every time this guy speaks he changes his mind. Hind site get's us nowhere. He has not been relevant for a long time.

    July 18, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. salty dog

    Well Lizzie, did you get what you wanted?

    July 18, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. sonny chapman

    If he had been Prez in 2000, the REAL 9-11 might not have happened. McCain might have listened to Richard Clarke about Bin Laden instead of taking the Gorge W. approach," I only worry about what Cheney tells me to worry about".

    July 18, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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