Dems seize on McCain’s Iran gaffe

Political Ticker; March 18, 2008; 9:07PM ET 

(CNN) – The Democratic National Committee seized on John McCain’s apparent gaffe while discussing Iran Tuesday, saying it raises questions whether the Arizona senator “can be trusted to offer a clear way forward.”

The misstep in question occurred during a news conference in Jordan earlier Tuesday, when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee repeatedly said Iran was supplying al Qaeda. Iran is predominately a Shiite country and is not aiding the Sunni dominated Al-Qaeda.

McCain ultimately corrected himself after Sen. Joe Lieberman whispered in his ear.

“I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al Qaeda. I am sorry,” the Arizona senator said.

DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney quickly pounced on the misstep.

“After eight years of the Bush Administration’s incompetence in Iraq, McCain’s comments don’t give the American people a reason to believe that he can be trusted to offer a clear way forward,” she said. “Not only is Senator McCain wrong on Iraq once again, but he showed he either doesn’t understand the challenges facing Iraq and the region or is willing to ignore the facts on the ground.”

McCain’s campaign immediately responded, saying the “Democrats have launched political attacks today because they know the American people have deep concerns about their candidates’ judgment and readiness to lead as commander in chief.”

The DNC later sent out a transcript of McCain’s interview Monday with conservative Hugh Hewitt, during which he appeared to make the same mistake.

“As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they’re moving back into Iraq,” he told Hewitt.

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