The Five Sharpest Turns of the Double Talk Express: McCain Wants to 'Make it a Hundred Years' in Iraq, Says DNC

It has been a bumpy ride, to say the least, for John McCain's Double Talk Express this year. The one-time maverick turned his back on straight talk, putting his principles aside to do whatever it took to propel his struggling presidential campaign forward. For the five days leading toward the New Hampshire primaries, the DNC is recapping the sharpest and most egregious turns of McCain's Double-Talk Express. Today's issue: Iraq .

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Throughout 2007, John McCain lost ground among independents over his stubborn promise to deliver a third Bush term on the war in Iraq . Last night McCain reiterated that promise, and echoed President Bush 's vow to leave the war in Iraq to future Presidents, only well into the next century. [Video of McCain Derry, NH town hall meeting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf7HYoh9YMM), 1/3/08; Boston Herald, 1/18/07; LA Times/Bloomberg poll, 1/18/2007; Washington Post, 12/18/07]

McCain not only interrupted a voter's question, telling him we should "make it a hundred" years in Iraq and "that would be fine with me," he told a reporter after the town hall meeting "that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 'a thousand years' or 'a million years,' as far as he was concerned." [motherjones.com (http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/01/6735_mccain_in_nh_wo.html), 1/3/08]

The exchange highlighted a major problem for McCain. Throughout 2007 McCain played a delicate balancing act, both trying to distance himself from the war's problems, but refusing to accept a change of direction in Iraq . McCain even tried to convince New Hampshire voters that he opposed the President's initial Iraq strategy, while in reality he consistently stood with President Bush and echoed Don Rumsfeld as early as 2003, claiming that the end was "very much in sight" in Iraq . In 2005, McCain was still backing the President, arguing that another year would prove "stay the course" was working, and in 2006 argued that Iraq was "on the right track" even as it slipped further toward civil war. [The Hill, 12/8/05; ABC News, Good Morning America, 4/9/03; MSNBC, Imus in the Morning, 3/1/06] And one of McCain's biggest falls over the last year came after the Arizona Senator claimed there were streets in Baghdad safe enough to walk through, but did so wearing a bulletproof vest while accompanied by "100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead." [NBC Nightly News, 4/1/2007]

"John McCain must be underestimating Granite State voters if he expects them to believe that he opposed the Bush-Rumsfeld strategy while he keeps using its same old talking points," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda . "McCain's promise to keep American troops in Iraq for a hundred, a thousand, or a million years shows he offers nothing but a third Bush term on Iraq ."

McCain: A Third Bush Term on Iraq

2003: McCain Said Bush Led With "Clarity" And Did Not Exaggerate the Case for War. During an interview with a live audience, Senator McCain praised President Bush on his leadership on the Iraq war and said, "I think the president has led with great clarity and I think he's done a great job leading the country, don't you all?" And asked if he thought the president exaggerated the case for war, McCain said, "I don't think so. And I think thatd it's obvious that the 16 words should not have appeared in his speech. He acknowledged that again today. But I think that he made a strong case and I think that case has been verified with discovery of mass graves and the brutality of this incredible regime." [MSNBC, Hardball, 4/23/03; Fox News, 7/31/03]

2003: McCain Said The End Is "Very Much In Sight." Senator McCain was asked "At what point will America be able to say the war was won?" McCain said there were oil fields to secure and "die-hards" to take care of but "it's clear that the end is very much in sight, and today I think Americans should be very proud of their leadership, their technology. There are still some foreigners, Syrians and others hanging around. But it won't be long. It will be a fairly short period of time, but this happens in wars. I'm confident that once they are confident the area is no longer a threat to the Marines and to our army troops that they'll start imposing discipline. In the meantime, we'll have a short period of chaos." [ABC News, Good Morning America, 4/9/03]

2005: McCain Said That Another Year Will Prove "Stay the Course" Is Working. "McCain believes that the U.S., and the cause of Iraqi independence, are moving forward in Iraq , a little bit at a time. 'I think the situation on the ground is going to improve,' he says. 'Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.'" [The Hill, 12/8/05]

2006: McCain's Top Political Advisor Says McCain's Support for the War is "Stay the Course, No Matter What." John McCain's top advisor explained McCain's support for the war and the impact it would have on McCain's future aspirations saying, "It is stay-the-course, no matter what. And if it dooms McCain, so be it." [Bloomberg News, 4/20/06]

2006: McCain Said That Iraq Was "On The Right Track" As The Country Moved Closer To Civil War. Speaking on the "Imus In The Morning" radio show on March 1, 2006 , McCain played down the increasing civil violence in Iraq . When Imus remarked that Iraq "already looks like a civil war," McCain responded, saying, "I keep trying to look at the bright side of this because we have to because the consequences of failure are catastrophic. But the gathering of the seven most respected religious leaders the day before yesterday, calling for calm and calling for some kind of reconciliation, I think, was important. I think, at least we're on the right track here." [MSNBC, Imus in the Morning, 3/1/06]

2007: McCain Claimed There Were Neighborhoods Safe Enough for Him to Walk Through. McCain claimed there were neighborhoods safe enough for him to walk through in Baghdad , but then toured a Baghdad market wearing a bulletproof vest while accompanied by "100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead." [NBC Nightly News, 4/1/2007]

2007: McCain Called Iraq the "Premier Issue" of Our Time, But Missed Iraq War Votes to Campaign for President. According to accounts in The Washington Post, Senator McCain said, "Look, this is the issue. This is the premier issue of my time and the next generation." [Washington Post, 4/7/07] But when it came to voting on the premier issue, Senator McCain was too busy campaigning, missing each of the first three most crucial votes on the Iraq war this year. The first time, on February 5 , "McCain admitted he was mending fences with conservatives in Texas when the Republicans in the Senate blocked a debate on the war." The second time, on February 17 , McCain chose "to spend the day courting conservative voters for his presidential campaign in Iowa." And finally, McCain missed the third Iraq war vote on March 15 , because he was "campaigning in Iowa." [ Dallas Morning News, 2/5/07; AP, 2/16/07; MSNBC.com, 2/14/07; Los Angeles Times , 3/16/07]

2007: McCain Claims Political Success, Pleads for More Time for Surge. McCain told MSNBC that "the security situation is such on the ground that we can have the Iraqi military take over more of those responsibilities. There is great local political progress being made." McCain argued for more time for the surge despite lack of progress on key benchmarks telling CBS that, "this new strategy's only had a few months." [MSNBC, 9/11/07; CBS Early Show, 9/11/07]

2008: McCain Would Spend "a Hundred Years" or a "Million Years" in Iraq . McCain interrupted a voter during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire telling him we should "make it a hundred" years in Iraq and "that would be fine with me." After the town hall meeting, he told a reporter "that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 'a thousand years' or 'a million years,' as far as he was concerned." [McCain Derry, NH town hall meeting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf7HYoh9YMM), 1/3/08; motherjones.com (http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/01/6735_mccain_in_nh_wo.html), 1/3/08]

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