From The Caucus at The New York Times (March 18, 2008):
JERUSALEM — Senator John McCain’s trip overseas was supposed to highlight his foreign policy acumen, and his supporters hoped that it would showcase him as a statesman, allowing him to meet with world leaders as the Democrats squabble.
But all did not go according to plan on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, when Mr. McCain, fresh from a visit to Iraq, misidentified some of the key players in the Iraq war.
Mr. McCain said several times during his visit to Jordan – during a news conference and a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.
It was not until he got a whispered correction from Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who was traveling with Mr. McCain on the trip, which is a Congressional delegation, that Mr. McCain corrected himself.
“I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not Al Qaeda,” he said.
Mr. McCain made similar comments about Iran training Al Qaeda on Monday in an interview with the Hugh Hewitt Show, a radio program he called into from Amman. “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 said, according to a transcript posted on the show’s Web site.
From Think Progress:
In an interview yesterday with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) dismissed criticism of his multiple false claims that Iranian operatives are “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back” by claiming that he “corrected it immediately.” “I don’t claim that I won’t misspeak on occassion, but I will correct it immediately,” said McCain.
Asked if it’s “a fair question” to wonder if it was more than “simply a slip of a tongue,” McCain replied that “to think that I would have some lack of knowledge about Sunni and Shia after my eigth visit and my deep involvement in this issue is a bit ludicrous.”
(Video available at link)
Just as McCain’s initial assertion about Iran training al Qaeda was false, his claim that he “corrected it immediately” is also false. In fact, McCain made the claim at least three times on two separate occasions. He corrected himself only after the third utterance when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) whispered in his ear.
Making a false claim and then making it again is the opposite of the correcting it immediately. It’s also the opposite of “straight talk.”