July 15th, 2008
08:14 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Dueling Over Iraq

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/15/art.bushpodium.jpg]
Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain dialed up their war of words today over Iraq.

Senator Obama called the war a “dangerous distraction” and said more emphasis needs to be placed on the battle in Afghanistan.

He also blasted the Bush Administration for missed opportunities after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Obama says part of his new strategy will be “taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

A short time later, Senator McCain attacked his rival’s opposition to the surge in Iraq, saying its lessons can be applied in Afghanistan. McCain says U.S. troops should stay in Iraq as long as needed. The latest polling shows Americans split between a timed withdrawal from Iraq and staying indefinitely.

Tonight, we’ll hear from both candidates – in their own words – and let you decide who has the better plan.

Also tonight: the economy. Today, President Bush called it fundamentally sound, even as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress that worse days are ahead. Meantime, the Labor Department said wholesale inflation is the highest it’s been since the early ‘80s; GM announced massive payroll cuts; and the Dow closed below 11,000 for the first time in two years. Oh yes – and the dollar hit a new low against the euro. Tonight, we’ll look at which presidential candidate stands to gain the most from all these economic woes. Who do you trust most to turn the economy around – and why?

In Crime & Punishment, we dig into a new report by the ACLU that says the FBI's terror watch list is now one million names long – one million. What’s more, the ACLU says the list is so secretive and so shoddily put together, it’s hard to tell how it’s being used – or abused. One thing is certain though. If your name is on the list, it makes air travel hellish. CNN Chief Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin is on the list. Tonight, he tries to uncover how he got there.

All that and more tonight on 360 at 10 p.m. Eastern.

Filed under: The Buzz
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Adam T. San Antonio, TX

    LOL Cindy, PLEASE STOP NOW!!!!!! You are obviously misinformed or blind to the FACTS and that is quite laughable, youre not to be taken serious :))

    July 16, 2008 at 8:51 am |
  2. Darryl Smith

    What?! Nobody is going to Iran to talk. Where did that come from. People hear what they want to. "There is none so blind..." The envoy is going to sit in on the multilateral talks our European allies have been conducting. These have been going on for years with the US in the background, just the Dems and most news outlets don't want to recognize it. That is the way the real world works. No sensible President is going to sit down with A-Jad directly. Wise up.
    To have that correspondent is Afghanistan say that the "surge" wasn't the greatest single factor in bringing down the violence in Iraq is simply absurd and oviously a politically tainted remark. The surge was exactly the one thing to bring about the change. Flash back to the end of the first Gulf War. The US hoped for the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam, but we just left the region and did not come to their aid when they need it. The Kurds paid a big price when Saddam used those non-existant WMD on them. So now jump forward to 2003. Why would local tribal leaders resist Al Queda when they expected the US to "cut and run" again? The surge established a level of credibility that enabled us to work with the local leaders to evict the insurgents, because they now have the confidence that we are going to stay around to keep Al Queda off their backs. Bush/Rumsfeld were wrong and McCain was right. Obama didn't have a clue. If you don't take my word for it, just ask Bill Clinton. With regard to the condescending remark from that twit correspondent in Afghanistan about having local leaders on our payroll, that is a misrepresentation of the facts. Money IS given to the locals to improve their standard of living – schools, hospitals, etc. Does some of it get side tracked? You can bet on it, but then I recall a congressman with a load of cash in his freezer right here at home.

    July 16, 2008 at 2:45 am |
  3. Bonnie Simpson

    Barack Obama is on target in his assessment of taking the battle to Afghanistan because Iraq claims they will continue their relationship with Afghanistan.

    A similar statement was made by Singh after from India's parliament accused him of being influenced by the United States. India was going to report Iran was making nuclear weaponsto the UN Security Council before its parliament opposed.

    July 16, 2008 at 2:02 am |
  4. Elizabeth L.

    how is it saving money to shift military spending to afghanistan? obama's latest plan once again shows his lack of thought and depth.

    July 16, 2008 at 1:46 am |
  5. Jordan

    McCain as well as the mass media likes to state that Barack Obama's inexperience in foreign policy is a weakness in his campaign. Yet it was Barack who all this time stated that our main goal is in Afghanistan and not Iraq and that the terrorist that we seek is hiding in the mountains of that country. Why for one second does anyone including the republicans, Bush and even McCain does not understand this?

    Its seems for now that Obama has been right all along. That we really need to put more focus on Afghanistan. Now the republicans of thinking of doing just that.

    Keep in mind that McCain was against sending troops to Afghanistan just a week ago. Now he wants to send a few brigades to that region. Is this a change in his tactics or is it another pandering moment for the old man? I think his playing politics as usually and for now, Obama's better judgement and perspective in the middle east is trumping over anything what McCain and Bush is doing in terms of foreign policy.

    Everyone should listen to the speech that Barack made today concerning the Iraq and Afghanistan. He makes a lot of sense. McCain's theme really don't say much except that he wants to occupy Iraq and continue the war further.

    July 16, 2008 at 1:40 am |
  6. Catherine

    McCain and Bush have all but copied everything that Obama said. They really didn't have a strategy, they have taken his...all the way down to talking with Iran. I think if such a super Army man has to copy Obama...6then we should have Obama. So far McCain has done nothing except copy people. First Bush, now he and Bush are trying to copy Obama. All Obama needs is a General for a VP, and it is over, because Obama has a better strategy. Finally, on your show (I think) you talked to someone in Iran who said the surge had nothing to do with success. If it was all about the surge, people would have started fighting again as soon as the surge was over.

    July 16, 2008 at 1:20 am |
  7. Caycee

    McCain has no plan to leave Iraq, but would rather maintain US presence there for the next 100 years or so. That way, the US can protect it's "interests" there, namely the oil fields as well as the world's largest "embassy". He just threw his campaign economics adviser under the double talk express bus for saying that the US has a "mental recession". He's also consistently voted to support the current White House policies. It's obvious where McCain stands. It's also obvious that if you do the same thing over and over, you get the same results.

    July 16, 2008 at 12:50 am |
  8. JC- Los Angeles

    America should not be focusing on occupation, nation building and regime change overseas while here at home we fall apart.

    Along with grave loss of life overseas, we have managed to polarize the world, drive up energy costs, depress the dollar and along with Greenspan's erroneous rate cuts, fuel fraud here at home to unprecedented levels.

    What's even more alarming is McCain needed to check with Joe Leiberman to actually find out why the Sunnis and Shiites were still fighting; oh boy.

    Meanwhile, Obama wants to leave immediately, wait, yeah, no, wait, oh, he'll talk to commanders and stuff and then try to figure out his position; say what?

    You can't make this stuff up.

    July 16, 2008 at 12:02 am |
  9. ln

    This surge talk is nothing but filibustering over nothing.
    As Americans we are looking at the big picture and how it has impacted and continues to affects our economy. The war was not supposed to happen, However McCain along with the Bush cronies went along with it and our soldiers are still being killed on a daily basis. This has become such a norm that the media no longer reports on it to any extent. All we get is, a young soldiers is back, he’s dead and that’s the end. Today our dollar cannot even be used as toilet tissue.

    What is wrong with this picture? Why does the media not reporting on food prices, on people who cannot pay their mortgage, about college prices, about groceries, about our infrastructure, about all those folks who are displaced by the flood. why can they focus on local government and how they can help developed local groups that can help our community. We are so arrogant and that is why we will continue to pay for out trillion of errors

    These United States is paying the price of greed and vengeance on a country for it's resources. All we do is talk about the war while folks are starving in this great country now more than ever.
    When we are finished in Iraq they will be suing us for demolishing Iraq and displace their citizens. Think we are in a hole now, all that will be left is for us is to be buried. All for GREED.

    As the media continues to harp on none issues and continue to feed McCain's ego as a war Vet and how he can be a better president is a joke. All he does is talk about Iraq and wars and more wars. Why would anyone vote for someone whose mind is still in Vietnam in his own jail cell. The man cannot remember his lines, by the time November comes around, he won't remember what he said today.

    McCain is out of Vietnam cell; However the cell is within him all he sees is war and the continuation of it.

    July 15, 2008 at 11:59 pm |
  10. Silvia Amato

    Viewing your show tonight I heard McCain say " I know how to win wars ".
    What does he know ? He was a POW for 5 years, during a war the USA lost and he never continued a military career, so how did he learn to win wars ????
    I do not dismiss his virtues as a soldier who suffered imprisonment, torture,etc. but I don't believe that makes him a better Commander in Chief or a better President.
    I wonder how come the press or the media, such as yourself, do not confront him with the reality.
    Thank you for reading . Silvia.Scottsdale ,AZ.

    July 15, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  11. Donnell

    Gary Chandler,
    You are absolutely correct- The success of the surge has many components including paying foreign fighters not to fight us. I’m all for that if it’s going to keep the fatalities down. But, let’s stop pretending the success of the surge simply has to do with the number of additional troops we stuck in Iraq. The media, including Anderson Cooper does a poor job in covering that aspect of the surge. The headline is too simple- more troops, less violence, McCain is right…

    The media and JM should also stop pretending this war started with the surge. McCain on his daily soapbox- “I was right”, “I was right”…Sorry brother, you were wrong…We’ve been marred down in Iraq, fighting an ill conceived and poorly executed war when we should have been concentrating on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    If John McCain speaks with such clarity & definition on this issue, why can’t he give us a clear and concise definition of victory? It’s laughable he continues say he can bring the troops home victorious but he has yet to define with any clarity what victory in Iraq truly means.

    How about it Anderson- Dig Deeper…

    July 15, 2008 at 11:49 pm |
  12. angie

    i agree with most of the bloggers you have to pay attention senator obama has said from day one we should not be in iraq and that we should be in afghanistan, and that the war in iraq has not made us safe the taliban, bin laden and the true terriost are not in iraq and have never been please pay attention more

    July 15, 2008 at 11:40 pm |
  13. Mary Jones

    Can the media please mention the fact that the majority of people in this country did not want an insurgency in Iraq. The majority of people wanted our government to start reducing our troops. That is why the democrats were able to get the majority in congress. The people are ready for a change. Your station failed to mention that Obama voted against the insurgency because it was the right thing to do and it was and is what the people of this country wanted then and want now. This country is supose to be by and for the people and if we cannot feel like our politicians are representing our wishes then what is the point of a democracy at all.

    July 15, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  14. Ell

    I watched the war of words and I must say Obama has been right from the beginning. Now, when he says we need more troops in Afgan. Bush & Mcain says the same oh but McCain then tops the number from 2 (what Obama says to send) to 3.
    Anyone with a stronghold of guns will keep some violence down (the so called surge) but, it can not be America's duty to uphold (McCain says to win?) Does not make much sense our troops have done alot it's time to end even they know it!

    Another point is talking to our adversaries. You don't know unless you try. McCain out right disagreed for the mere mention. His gaphs are never mentioned on CNN he seems confused on simple words such as today. (Basic Geo/history)
    But because he was a POW he thinks he is the best Commander in Chief if you look at what is actually being said, I beg a differ.

    July 15, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  15. Dan

    You seem to be a smart guy in the series of Planet in Peril. But when it comes to Iraq issue, you are not giving true assesment of damage that the war has done to U.S. How much ever you guys support war on Iraq? The truth is we are weaker than ever before in the History of U.S. since WWII.


    July 15, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  16. Donnell

    You really should pay attention- Barack has said for many months that the war in Iraq has been a distraction from the true front on terrorism in Afghanistan. I’m glad you think we can have continued and significant military presence in Iraq without being attacked, but, that simply ignores the true dynamics of this conflict.

    Question- When do you suppose we go after the terrorist that attacked us on 9/11? Last I checked none were from Iraq. John McCain said “he knows how to win wars”- So exactly which war has he won in our country’s history? Exactly which war has he made any strategic and/or executive decisions in? None…

    As a career military man I have great admiration for John McCain and his distinguished military service. The fact is however, his limited military service and time as a POW does not necessarily arm him with the depth of knowledge needed to make command level decisions regarding military strategy. The fact that he served does not qualify him as Commander in Chief worthy.

    Last, after seven years of failed economic policies, are we really ready to hand this mess over to a guy who admittedly knows nothing about the economy? I think not! The country is changing and there’s nothing about John McCain that says change.

    Don’t allow the Republicans to play to your fears, play to your hopes…

    OBAMA 08!

    July 15, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  17. AJ

    Cindy, Obama never said he was against deploying US troops where needed. He was against the illegal Iraq war from the beginning and wanted US to go after the Taliban/Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. You are just talking nonsense and like die-hard republican will lie so that McCain can look good. The taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden killed 3000 of our innocent citizens on 9/11. Iraq had nothing to do anything with it. Bush chose Iraq because his father chose not to send our troops to Baghdad and he wanted to fight a war that he thought was easy to win. How wrong he was, is well known now. And all this hogwash from McCain that the surge worked- do you know that 100,000 Iraqi insurgents are under US payroll and that is why they are not fighting. This has resulted in less violence and deaths not the surge.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  18. Marva Coleman

    How can any praise be given to surge or any other points concerning this war when the cost of trillions of dollars could have paid for more oil pumps dug in America with immediate relief for cost at the gas pumps? Where are the heads of the American people? Do we actually take the time to think and analyze situations.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:57 pm |
  19. Mike

    Has the US ever elected a President during a war (x2) that had no military experience?

    How many homes and Mortgages have each current Presidential candidates had?

    July 15, 2008 at 10:46 pm |
  20. lampe

    How can a man with no experience, be entrusted with the lifes of all of the citizens of The U.S.A. Maybe all you dreamers can believe in fairytales, but their are lots of people who are unwilling to put their lifes and the lifes of their loved ones in the hands of someone we KNOW NOTHING ABOUT.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  21. paul h paul

    I think the way forward in the fight for the actualization of freedom, health, security, qualitative education,... lies in the election of a visionary, energetic and a dynamic leader. Between these two guys(Obama and McCain), I think one of them has seen(or had) enough of the past, while the other is looking into the future with great hope, promise, faith,...

    July 15, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  22. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Gary ............Canada

    I always like seeing what someone from outside the US has to say. You are dead on with your comments.................Man............I hope we get the hell out of Iraq...........................

    July 15, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  23. Gerry W

    If Ms. Crowley is talking about the Washington Post poll, she should point out as should Anderson , that Obama is ahead in that poll and also has increased his %s from Independents.
    Last week on Election Central Campell Brown had a Republican
    strategist who said that Obama was in a freefall. Campbell diid not question that., nor did Mark Halperin , who actually said that Mc Cain had a good week last week , the week of a gaffe a day. I have not watched that program since.
    I repeat if you are quoting the Washington Post poll, you should point out the main results of that poll, which is that Obama is leading

    July 15, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  24. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL


    You just don't have a clue...............anything to put Obama down and pretend he hasn't been talking about Afghanistan for months........Oh wait........now Bush is deflecting brigades to Afghanistan and is sending a top official to Iran to talk diplomatically. Sounds like Bush has learned from Obama too...........7 1/2 yrs late Bush..................

    July 15, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  25. lina

    politic will be always politics, no person can truly deeply see inside, and even if, then it is a world of intrigues, deception, truth, lies, honesty, insecurity, security, and all the political soup. Only that some make the soup better, than others.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:03 pm |
  26. Etta J

    I honestly believe Sen. Obama has the ability to turn the economy around. I think Sen. McCain is too far out of touch to be able to relate to mid-class American. And as far as his war policy he has no policy! It is simply fight untill we have no more men and women left to fight.

    Whats so wrong with Sen. Obama changing his mind, if its for the better. Consistnecy in pursuing the same course despite faliure is the stuff of fools. I would want a president who was able to change his mind if a course of action that failed. If you don't agree vote for Bush or Sen. McCain, Bush's legacy.

    July 15, 2008 at 9:39 pm |
  27. Gary Chandler in Canada

    The surge worked? Is it clear to anybody that the 'surge' was a huge bribe paid to the 'enemy' to 'slow down'.
    How does one get out of that strategy? Keep paying them for 100 years!
    It goes against a 'don't negotiate with terrorists' philosophy.
    Look folks, there will be fatalities when Obama pulls out of that mess.
    There would be just as many fatalities, and more to Americans, if McCain keeps the occupation going. The deaths will just occur over a greater period of time at more cost to your economy.
    Also, surge, by definition is short burst. The surge is now a 'build up' aided by a pay off to the enemy.
    This 'surge' is one of the most ignominious foot notes in the history of warfare, giving cash to terrorists to look good back home!
    McCain should pretend he has an IQ over 110 and ask what the terrorists are using that money for!? spreading democracy or rearming?
    One thing, an international UN zone should be created along the border of Iraq and Iran in conjunction with an American withdrawal!

    July 15, 2008 at 9:17 pm |
  28. Larry

    The only thing that Barack should concern himself with once he is sworn in as president of African-America. Jesse Jackson was right, Obama ha to demonstrate where his allegiance lies.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  29. Cindy

    So Barack wants to pull us all out of Iraq but put way more troops in Afghanistan? I thought he was dead set against war all together. So now what...has he flipped on that also!?

    He is willing to let innocent Iraqis die in order to prove a point. The only point he is proving is that he knows nothing about war. We have military personell all over the world keeping peace where we once fought! That will have to happen in Iraq no matter what anyone says. If not, Iraq will go back to total chaos and he will look like the fool. Then he will have to once again return our troops there...even bigger fool.


    July 15, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  30. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Obama will have the ability to put the correct policies into place to turn this around. McCain is still practicing his long division for pete's sake............someone show him how to send an e-mail...........Hopefully, he isn't in charge of any do-hickey's or thing -a- ma- jiggy's or ...........push button phones....................

    July 15, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
  31. Annie Kate

    I really don't trust either of them to turn the economy around. It would be nice if Greenspan were back; he seemed to know what he was doing. I hate to think we are going to have to wait until a new President is sworn in to see any beginnings of a plan to give us relief. We need a solution now – Congress needs to step up to the plate and do some work for a change and start some relief effort for us all.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 15, 2008 at 8:30 pm |