Video: McCain, Obama bicker over Iraq

This has been an issue for a day or two now but it’s still worth noting. Stemming from the MSNBC Democratic debate from Ohio in which Clinton and Obama were asked about Iraq. McCain took issue with Obama’s answer and this is what’s happened since.

Here’s a report on it from the Associated Press:

TYLER, Texas (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful John McCain mocked Barack Obama’s view of al-Qaida in Iraq, and the Democratic contender responded that GOP policies brought the terrorist group there.

The rapid-fire, long-distance exchange Wednesday underscored that the two consider each other likely general election rivals, even though the Democratic contest remains unresolved.

McCain criticized Obama for saying in Tuesday night’s Democratic debate that, after U.S. troops were withdrawn, as president he would act “if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq.”

“I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq. It’s called `al-Qaida in Iraq,'” McCain told a crowd in Tyler, Texas, drawing laughter at Obama’s expense. He said Obama’s statement was “pretty remarkable,”

Obama quickly answered back while campaigning in Ohio. “I do know that al-Qaida is in Iraq and that’s why I have said we should continue to strike al-Qaida targets,” he told a rally at Ohio State University in Columbus.

“But I have some news for John McCain,” Obama added. “There was no such thing as al-Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq. … They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11 and that would be al-Qaida in Afghanistan, that is stronger now than at any time since 2001.”

Also, here’s a video report from CBS News:

The bottom line in all this, since what McCain and Obama have said is debatable, is that this is a preview of the back and forth over the Iraq war which will ensue during this election. In fact, as we discussed somewhat on the You Decide Politics Radio earlier, this is almost a textbook debate between Obama and McCain.

First, McCain paints Obama with the “inexperience” brush over the Iraq war. In response, Obama paints McCain with the “Bush Administration” brush over the war. Obama’s major argument here may be that McCain is too connected with what Democrats see as a failed policy. McCain will counter that he has the experience and the United States needs to see it through to victory.

It’s interesting that Hillary has been largely left out of this discussion.

  • Babs

    Brian Williams ran an interesting piece last night on NBC Nightly News about the 4 candidates intentions on the Iraq War, and just how many of those promises they can keep in reality. It was noted that promises to “bring our troops home” as a blanket promise is not going to happen. They went on to say that without the recommendations of the Military Commanders in Iraq, nothing will be done. The most notable thing said about it to me was that these campaign promises have a much better chance of being kept as candidates, but will not be easily accomplished as President. If this is true, then we are back to debating hypotheticals, are we not?

    Maybe I’m just a backwards little lady from the south, but if I understand Obama correctly, isn’t he just proposing to SHIFT troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan?? That would not be bringing our troops home, from what I interpret from his speeches he simply intends to reassign troops, not bring them home. Not that he has said that outright, only that he says while we shouldn’t be in Iraq, he thinks we SHOULD be in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Am I missing something here?

  • Stalin


    In my opinion, these campaign promises are just rhetoric to garner more votes. To say that you can make an intelligent decision regarding a highly complex war while being completely removed from the day to day operations is just wreckless.

  • Babs, you make a good point. I am a fairly liberal democrat, but I think the people who expect Obama or Clinton to just withdraw all the troops in one year are a little nuts. It simply its feasible. However a more open minded administration might be able to garner more support from the international community in order to get more help with fixing the issues in Iraq, and expedite the stabilization process.

    Regarding your comment about Pakistan and Afghanistan. Conservatives and even some liberals have been twisting Obama’s words regarding Pakistan. He has never said that we need to invade or bomb that country, he simply stated that if we had intelligence regarding the location of Osama Bin Laden or other high ranking al-Qaida officials, he would strike. Air striking targets and repositioning troops are two very different things. If you remember, Bil Clinton initiated air strikes several times on various targets. Regarding Afghanistan, as far as I know, we never had as many troops there in the first place, so even if more were deployed there some would come home in the case of a complete withdrawal from Iraq.

  • Stalin

    I think the key here is to realize that Obama condradicted himself on a very important issue. This may speak to his inexperience or maybe he’s just not real sure about his Iraq policy.

  • Tim

    Mccain is going to eat Obama’s lunch in the foreign policy debate. If I was obama I would be changing the subject. When it comes to foreign policy and dealing with war, Mccain is the person Id rather have in the white house over anyone right now. His military background is one of the most extensive in washington. Its been in his blood, and his father’s blood all their lives.

    Obama’s responce to mccain completes neglects what is going on right now in Iraq. Obama had to pull up the tired old complaint that if we had never went to war in the first place, that al-Qaida wouldnt be there. Ok, so that does nothing to address the present……He completly avoided the present reality of what Mccains point- That despite the reason al-Qaida is indeed in iraq right now, and would love for us to get out of their way.

    People may be tired of war, but I think if we just pulled out like Hillary clinton and Obama suggest, you would have a huge problem to deal with not soon after we left, and you might have to turn around and go right back in- Having lost all of our previous progress. You can not simply pull out of a situation like Iraq just because you are tired.

  • David

    However, you must have a point where you decide:

    Is this effort worth more money?
    Is this effort worth more lives?
    Is this effort where the US majority wants the country to be?
    Is this effort holding off a civil war that will take place no matter what?

    If the latter is case then we will have issues in Iraq regardless how long we are there.