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July 22nd, 2008
05:36 PM ET

McCain's best shot is stressing independence

Gloria Borger
CNN Senior Political Analyst

It was just back at the end of May when Sen. John McCain started to criticize Sen. Barack Obama for not visiting the Middle East since 2006. At the time, McCain coyly suggested they tour Iraq together.

Sensing a good thing, the Republican National Committee started a clock to count the days since Obama had visited the region.

The chiding worked. Obama is now on his grand tour of the Middle East and Europe. The RNC clock has stopped, but timing is still everything.

On the eve of Obama's trip, a German magazine quoted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as essentially embracing Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal. (Later, an aide to Maliki tried to walk it back, albeit without specifics.)

Read more...


Filed under: Gloria Borger • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Kanaka Hawaii

    The problem with McCain stressing his "independence" is that he actually isn't independent of the current administration or his old cronies, and everyone knows it. He seems to also think that his "oldness" equates to wisdom, and that his POW status as well as his lengthy term in Congress proves that he has the experience necessary to lead. Maybe all that was true back in the day, but it's a different world now. And all the so called wisdom and experience he brings to US through his previous and absentia voting records in the Senate have not brought US to a better America. So, based on his long tenure in Congress, as well as the associates he relies on, it's highly doubtful that his elevation to President will bring improvements to US. His campaign is as confused as he is most of the time. And for all of his venting he actually displays the worst caricature of a whiner. It's a sad and creepy thing to witness, which may be another reason the media is avoiding coverage of his speeches. It becomes a rating failure for the networks when all there is to report is the latest off the wall gaffe he's made public. In fact, It's an embarrasment to report that the man who would be president, displays evidence of memory loss and confusion nearly every time he speaks. All in all I don't think he has much of a chance but he has no one to blame but himself. Yet, true to form, and because he doesn't know any other way, he'll play the blame game right up to his campaign's bitter end.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:30 am |
  2. Lloyd from Vegas

    Whwn Senator McCain talks, he reminds me of YOGI BERRA! You old timers know what I mean.

    July 23, 2008 at 3:07 am |
  3. micheal

    We are the Mormon vote and if Sen. John McCain don't choose Mitt Romney as VICE PRESIDENT ALL TEN OF US IS GOING TO Bob Barr....if McCain CHOOSE YOU ALL WILL SEE HOW MORMON RUN THING ....IF JOHN McCain choose Mr Romney you will see A BETTER AMERICA.

    July 23, 2008 at 2:23 am |
  4. E. Short

    I am not sure if you are intentionally misstating the facts or just confused. Senator McCain criticized Senator Obama for not having gone to Iraq since 2006. He pointed out that Senator Obama was chairman of a sub committee who had jurisdiction over Afghanistan, but had not held a single hearing to ascertain the facts.The least you could do is state the facts, and no try to deceive the public!

    July 23, 2008 at 1:43 am |
  5. Sydney

    Here's what I think is interesting. They are debating now about whether the surge "worked". McCain is trying to back Obama into a corner where he "admits" the surge "worked."

    So what I suggest Obama address now: whether it worked or not, the Republicans WILL NOT CHANGE COURSE. So why is it relevant whether it worked? If it was so successful, then bring the troops home within the 16 month timeframe Obama is proposing. (Now they are going to present some other milestone–this isn't good enough? When will it ever be good enough to get out? Never for the Republicans. There will always be some new reason we have to stay.)

    Are the Republicans now saying they can't bring them home whether it worked or not?????? That's what we get if we elect McCain. More reasons to stay no matter what. . .

    July 23, 2008 at 1:41 am |
  6. Julie Mills

    McCain calls Obamas oversea trip a photo op? Remember when he offered that they should go together to Iraq? McCain wasn't looking for a photo op then, With him as the tour guide. He is just upset because Barrak has been right on about leaving Iraq as the leaders have confirmed. McCain still believes we should stay and occupy the country against their wishes?

    July 23, 2008 at 1:31 am |
  7. yussef

    McCain is by far a good american, being a P.O.W. with that said it does not take away the fact that he is showing time and time again that his age is a big factor. I belive that one of the reason why he has been wrong about dates is because of hos bad memory. He is out there talking about wind power, independence on oil, hybrid technology that quiet frankly i don't believe he understands. He does not know how to use a computer for crying out loud.

    July 23, 2008 at 1:18 am |
  8. James Dylan

    Obama says he wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq. I completely agree. He admits the surge has had success, but said if he could go back he still wouldn't support it. Huh? So the war had begun and Iraq was in chaos, of which we were responsible for, and he would still pull all of our troops out. How does he not realize that the major influences in Iraq would then be Al Queda, Iran and other fundamentalists? That far more Iraqi blood would have been spilled and a true civil war would have began. This is a foolish man that can not be trusted running a war or making decisions that will not only cost American lives but the lives of other nations people. If he gets in office we will then put the fragile Pakistani government in Chaos. Not only could this make the Iraq war pale in comparison, but puts nukes on the table, as they are a nuclear armed nation. And don't forget, Iran still borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Should we invade Pakistan without their support, Obama has said he would, things have a great possibility of getting very bad. Especially if at that time Israel decides they can not wait any longer and bombs Iran. Obama scares me much more than McCain.

    July 23, 2008 at 1:02 am |
  9. Kim, Wisconsin

    I have to give credit where credit is due, Anderson did bring up some good points tonight.

    July 23, 2008 at 12:00 am |
  10. Cecil Jones

    Sen. McCain should be ashamed of himself and the childish tactics used in this campaign. Basically, he's throwing a "Hissy Fit" because he tried to trap Obama in a damned if you do situation. Obama is not the President. McCain is not the President either. McCain played a game of "Chicken" with Iraq chiding Obama to go or be called "Yellow." Obama found the courage and the humility to go. Obama did not try to upstage the President and he did not crumble to McCain's childish taunts. McCain is throwing a fit because his gotcha trap didn't work. He is using the ugly politics that America wants to reject. McCain is making so many blunders that this race could get ugly. We're talking Mondale ugly. If this keeps up McCain might not get the nomination. He's the presumptive nominee.

    July 22, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  11. Kim, Wisconsin

    Why are you not asking the tough questions to McCain.

    What do you consider a "win" in Iraq?

    Since Iraq also wants us out how have we brought them freedom if they do not get to choose to run themselves?

    Sen. McCain just a few months ago you stated that we could be in Iraq for 100 years or more, on 7-22-08 you stated, "We're going to withdraw. We will withdraw. The fact is whether we withdraw in victory or whether we withdraw in defeat." What has changed and how is this not a "flip-flop"?

    Why do you Sen. McCain focus so heavily on Obama and not your own programs?

    Sen. McCain part of your energy plan is to open up new drilling for oil companies. 7 to 10 years from now what is to say that the oil companies are going to overproduce oil to bring up the supply and the price down when they are making record profits?

    Sen. McCain it has been said that speculation on oil is a large part of the current cost. Why did you oppose the bill that would of ended speculation on oil, a loophole that was made by your own staff members?

    This is just a few questions that should be getting asked.

    July 22, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  12. Marc from San Diego

    I used to admire McCain but he has lost it. Where did the honor go? He needs to stop bashing Obama and start talking about what he would do to fix this economy, meet the people's problems and such instead of continuing to spread fear and doubt. It is beginning to backfire on him – fear and doubt about McCain. I already have fear and a lot of doubt about Bush, the Republicans and the Religious Right. They have proven to be self-serving and a complete disaster for this (once) great country. We need fresh ideas – McCain keeps living in the past and 'whining' recently. Let's move forward...

    July 22, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  13. Jim

    The true McCain is now becoming clearer to the public: he knows nothing about the economy, nothing of sigfificance about foreign affairs, and is constantly confused by what he is told about either subject....He is angry and becoming angrier by the minute; anyone who knows him will tell you that this has been his pattern for the last 30 or so years.....He gets mad when his "better than thou" attitude is rejected...

    July 22, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  14. YL

    As an outsider looking in on your presidential election, I am fascinated with it all. It seems to me it's become more of a Mr. Popularity election rather than voting for the person that will LEAD America to continue as a country that 's strong and the land of opportunities. McCain is surely no match for Obama in turns of giving great speeches and showmanship. But McCain's policy will give majority hard working Americans more prosperity and Obama will direct this great country towards socialism... Obama is very likable and gives incredible speeches, but actions speak louder than words any day!!!

    July 22, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  15. Guy Blaise

    The Bateke of Congo say " Whatever the speed of a naked man, he would never loose his testicles"....Senator McCain stay focus on your message. Don't loose your mind...Yes the press is unfair....

    July 22, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  16. Connie Franks

    The fact that some people are actually going to vote for Obama just for a 'change' from the previous 8 years makes me tremble with fear. This 3 year JUNIOR Senator hasn't done anything in his political career to make me think he's any more qualified to be president of this great country than 2 year old grandson is. He has the honor of having the most "present" answers on Senate votes than anyone in history. He has trouble making up his mind evidentally when it comes to taking a stand on important issues so he believes in playing it safe. But he does wants to nuke our allies in Pakistan, he wants to force me to pay for medical coverage I don't want, and his arrogant posture on classes in this country makes me happy I am one of the "gun toting religious nuts" that he and his elitist cohorts not-so-secretly look down on. For the past several years Congress has been ruled by Democrats, not by George W. The Democrats in charge have been successful in stifling many proposals of George W.'s party, but funny thing is, the American people's rate of approval of Congress is down to it's lowest than it's ever been. If people want a big 'change' try voting for more Independents and Republican's in their next state and local elections. Obama's views and speeches are finely tuned to what is base supporters want to hear. That is why he is the "flip-flop" king. If he's in PA, he talks their talk. If he's in CA he talks their talk. He is now trying to take credit for a gradual draw down idea of getting the troops out of Iraq. Up until his visit this week, he was talking of nothing but an immediate withdrawal. Quite a flip-flop if you look at the wording. Draw down not the same at all as Withdrawal. I watched his 40 min. in Jordan this morning and I did not hear a single fresh or new statement from his mouth. It sounded like he was talking with a mouth full of mush and not really saying anything. Other than taking credit for for being the answer to the free world's prayers, he sounded like what he is – a still wet-behind-the-ears JR. senator who is trying to please whoever is in the room with him at the time. Obama's time has not come yet – please come back when you can at least say YES or NO to Senate votes.

    July 22, 2008 at 10:57 pm |
  17. Alonzo M

    McCain used to known as a Maverick. Today he is just another Republican walking in-step with Bush and his policies. Reversed his stance on Taxes, Immigration,and Oil Drilling to name a few. Voted for invading Iraq to stop WMDs, which there were none of. Also overstated, like Bush, the Al-Qaeda threat which came in "AFTER" the invasion to fill the vacuum left by an inept invasion plan. The "Independent" McCain of old, is no more. He is now just another Sell-Out Republican politician, switching positions to make political points for the glorious prize of the U.S. Presidency.

    July 22, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  18. Mari, Salt Lake City

    Interesting that the conservatives are still backing the same-old. One of the comments on the blog, quotes the RNC saying "that Obama hasn't gotten his hands dirty." REALLY?

    Let's see, did George W.? A man who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and hardly has had to work a day in his life?

    Or by 'hands dirty' do they mean that Sen. Obama isn't a Washington insider?

    Just what does "hands dirty" mean? Is this now another measure by which we choose our leaders? How trite.

    All I see is THE MESS Bush/Cheney have made and I know I don't want more of it.

    Not one conservative defends the COST of the war in Iraq: $650 Billion a YEAR, $1.38 BILLION A DAY. But they sure know how to attack, how to complain and how to lie.

    I DO NOT want more war, we can't afford it! WE are a nation with a debt of $10 TRILLION DOLLARS, OWED MOSTLY TO CHINA, THE SAUDIS AND DUBAI!

    WE NEED TO CHANGE, OR WE ARE IN WORSE TROUBLE THAN WHEN THE GREAT DEPRESSION HIT!

    July 22, 2008 at 10:47 pm |
  19. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Hey Lampe..............

    You mean like when McCain stayed as far away as he could so he didn't have to vote on the FISA bill? Shameful..............

    July 22, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  20. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    This Independent liked the marverick of the McCain of 20 years ago.............but not the McCain of 2008. They are completely different. It is a shame to watch..............he speaks other peoples words and is not convincing whatsoever. As an Independent, I cannot and will not vote for McCain.

    Obama 08

    July 22, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  21. elaine, atlanta

    mr mccain if the surge worked good we won lets go home thank you.

    July 22, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  22. Ruthie

    McCain has lost lots of credibiltiy over the past few years...I am afraid he is "slipping" some...reminds me of Reagan's second term.

    July 22, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  23. Annie Kate

    I'd like to hear McCain's position on climate change as well as what he is going to do about the economy, the mortgage crisis, and our crumbling infrastructure. How many bridges have to collapse and kill people before we actually start doing something about renovating our infrastructure that is crumbling beneath our feet?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 22, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  24. Lynn, Vancouver

    I agree with Gerry. The coverage of Obama has been excessive but so overly critical like last night's false accusation of Obama "negotiating" and this mocroscope of will he make a mistake. Nothing about his reception by the GIs in Baghdad or by the King of Jordan.

    By all means even up the coverage of McCain but with the same scutiny. He made so many error in the CBS interview and needs to be held accountable for stating that Obama would rather lose the war and win the election. You aren't holding him accountable for when he started calling for the surge. Why isn't he accountable for supporting this war??

    July 22, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  25. lampe

    When, will all of you people stop saying the McCain is the 3rd Bush term. Do you people honestly believe that The Dems. had nothing to do with the way the last 7 years have turned out. There are Democrats in The Congress and there ARE Dem. Senators, do you really think for 1 minute that they aren't just as much at fault. If you really believe that then I have some really crappy land that I would love to sell you, where are you living in The Obama Fairyland. A lex Obama did not have a vote so there is just another of his lies. You can't vote for or against something if you DON'T HAVE A VOTE.

    July 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  26. Lamont Austin

    People always say Obama only votes present, what about when the vote came down to more equipment for our troops and body armor, Mccain voted no on protecting our troops, have you so called interested people forgotten that?

    July 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  27. Gerry W

    When will you and your colleagues stop giving Mc Cain a free pass.?
    Today , he questioned Obama's patriotism? Why aren't you calling foul? Why don't you ask him what isv ictory in Iraq? Like W, the defintion keeps changing. And now that you see the Republican attack machine, do you understand why Obama rejected public financing. ? People in the media let Bush/Cheney take you to war on a a lie. . Now you are letting this l , dangerous old Senator get away with lies, as, well. Why don't you expose the flip-flops , and deceptions of Mc Cain.?l
    The Straight Talk Express is what should be satirzed on a New Yorker cover.
    Maybe Obama gets more coverage, but you give Gaffey Duck a free ride on the Double Talk Express.

    July 22, 2008 at 8:44 pm |
  28. James Dylan

    I couldn't agree more with this article. I have been a left leaning independent and always liked McCain's own political independence. He does what needs to be done. If he finds himself to be in the wrong on certain issues he doesn't hesitate fix his mistakes. He has been a long time advocate for bipartisanship and truly has done more than just talk about it. If he would have won the republican nomination eight years ago things would have went much better. But the republicans blew it then and democrats blew it now. Does anyone really think a nation that voted for Bush twice is going to put his opposite, Obama, in the white house? Sounds like nothing more than HOPE to me. It's time for McCain to stop pandering to the republicans and get to those who are going to get him the win.

    July 22, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  29. Alex Lana, North Brunswick New Jersey

    For those who say that Obama is determining what to do in Iraq even before he becomes the president, I think they should think back to the vote that was cast as to whether or not the U.S. should go to war with Iraq. Obama voted against the war even before the war started and for Mc Cain who voted for the war and said he voted for it simply because that was the intel the U.S. had at the moment, the result speaks for itself. The same reasoning Obama had in making the right decision before the war and was right should suffice and if we rely on the way Senator Mc Cain voted for the Iraq war in the first place, we might as well be in for another major CATASTROPHE.

    July 22, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  30. mark hoffman, Phoenix AZ.

    Truly, what-if anything-new will McSame bring to the table. Everytime he says something relevant, it just sounds like a continuation of or a slight tweaking of the past Admins failed policies, both internally and externally. What glimpses of concrete change Obama has offered is at least better than what we have now. If McSames' campaign till Nov. is just to tear down Obama, there is no way he will win.

    July 22, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  31. Larry

    Why is obama so against nuclear energy?

    July 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  32. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    The messenger isn't the problem!! The problem lies with the Republican agenda and four more years of McBush!!

    July 22, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  33. DONALD Williams

    @Cindy I watch all of your comment because of how you always have something to say. If you people who suppose to know everything infact do know everything where is the solution that you say Barack Obama do not have . In order to say that an idea is worthless or has no merit you must have the solution. I never read anything but talk from you and your kind. John McCain was once the best republican in the Senate until he started changing his belief. He like the rest of you have bow down to King Bush. McCain was the one man that I thought would always stand up to Bush .He would have had my vote if he had not change to please the so- call conservative who want to push God and their belief down everyone throat. I hate abortion and believe it is a sin. But,as a true believer in Jesus Christ I know He did not force anyone to follow him he only tol.d the truth like John McCain use to do.YOU CANNOT CONTROL WHAT IS HAPPEN AND YOU NEVER WILL. You do look at the fact you just speak your opinion.

    July 22, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  34. Marc

    This is getting embarassing for Mr McCain and his people – they are talking very desperately. I thought he was going to be above the bashing and Republican swift-boating stuff. That seems to be his only message – which we keep hearing over and over again – like the American people just 'don't get it' either. I think we fully understand what he believes – that Obama doesn't get it. Trouble is – Obama has fresh ideas and a positive message for moving forward. The Republicans have had 8 years to get their vision out. It has been a disaster for foreign and domestic policy. Even McCain and his surrogates are spreading 'fear' again – we've had that – it doesn't work. It is time for fresh people with fresh thinking. I honor Mr McCain for his past and experience but the Vietnam War was over a long time ago. Time for him to retire.

    July 22, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  35. Wendy Ontario, Canada

    I have to disagree with Cindy, Obama refused to jump on the "gas tax holiday" that Clinton & McCain were using for their own political gain. He has also stood firm on not drilling for oil, something McCain has recently "flip-flopped" on for his own political benefit. He stands firm on his tax program which does not benefit the wealthy where McCain wants to make these Bush tax cuts "permenant". Obviously we all know where he stands on the Iraq war, a position McCain keeps saying is wrong. I think Obama has stood for what he believes is right even when it's not popular.

    July 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  36. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Whether we support McCain or Obama, one thing is crystal clear to me, we are becoming very uncivil to each other. When all the verbal abuse, bullying, disrespectful hate speech ends, what do we have left? A country divided by two parties that threw civility out the window.
    Yes, I blame both parties. The Democrats are just as guilty as anyone else with their, my way of thinking or else stance.
    We need the media to give us both sides of the coin in this election. Facts. Facts, not spinning a yarn to appease the voices that scream the loudest. Is that too much to ask for in an important election? I'm worn out, worn down and disappointed in Americans fighting Americans. Let's have civil debates, an election and get behind the winner, whoever that winner is. Just my opinion.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    July 22, 2008 at 6:28 pm |
  37. JC- Los Angeles

    Gloria, I enjoy your commentary and as an undecided, registered independent, I completely agree with the point about McCain not connecting with the independents or Reagan Democrats.

    After eight horrid years and with a nation on the brink, each candidate needs to throw out whatever worked in previous elections and focus on what's important to us today.

    Whether it's $5 gas, rising unemployment, corporate malfeasance, worthless politicians, Wall Street, foreclosures, mortgage fraud, public schools, gang violence, healthcare or a broken Federal Reserve, there are ample talking points that have nothing to do with nation building overseas.

    McCain claims he's not the third term of Bush, yet he spends his days with Bush Sr. and his time speaking about Obama in Iraq.

    I have said all along that this election is about three women; Hillary, Cindy and Michelle; Obama took care of Hillary but now McCain has to address Michelle and her orchestration of her husband's campaign.

    It's Michelle against McCain and McCain has some catching up to do; unless he addresses the middle and our concerns at home, Independents like me will give Obama a four year internship.

    July 22, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  38. Cindy

    "Obama hasn't gotten his hands dirty on any big issue," says this GOP strategist who informally advises the McCain campaign. "McCain has been out there, for better or worse. And he knows how to work with Democrats."

    I have to TOTALLY agree with this assessment of Obama! He stands on the backs of everyone that is willing to lose their seat to get the job done while he just votes present yet tries to take all of the credit when things turn out right such as Iraq and the surge working. He never once has done anything to risk his seat or his nomination for president. While McCain on the other hand has done just about everything to stand up for what he believes in regardless if anyone likes it or not.

    Who truly stands up for change!? HMM...

    Cindy...Ga.

    July 22, 2008 at 5:54 pm |