From ABC News:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stepped away Friday from seeming to suggest earlier in the day that the Iraq War was motivated by U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
At a town hall meeting in Denver Friday morning, McCain was discussing the war in Iraq, and comments about how long the United States will be involved in that region, when he pivoted quickly to energy policy.
“And I just want to promise you this: My friends, I will have an energy policy, that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East,” McCain said. “That will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”
After landing in Phoenix later in the day, McCain told reporters that he was not saying that the conflict is about oil.
“We went to Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and he was going to use them,” McCain said, reiterating what he has said before on numerous occasions.
He said that he was actually referring to the first Gulf War when he talked about how a new energy policy would allow the Untied States never to have to “send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”
But he did not mention the first Gulf War during his town hall meeting in Denver. His comments then came in the context of a conversation about the latest Iraq struggle, and how his plans for Iraq differ from that of his Democratic opponents, who want to begin withdrawing troops quickly from Iraq.
In the very next sentence, McCain said that he wanted to promise Americans that his energy policy would prevent future conflict in the Middle East, as noted above.
With no senior advisors traveling with the senator today, the campaign’s traveling press secretary Brooke Buchanan came to the back of the plane before landing to defend her boss’ remarks. The initial defense asserted that he was not referring to the current war in Iraq, but America’s involvement in the first Gulf War, which was at least partially due to the country’s reliance on foreign oil.
After the plane had landed, McCain himself tried to clarify his remarks, at first agreeing with his press secretary: “I was talking about that we had fought the first Gulf War for several reasons. One of them was Saddam Hussein’s invasion and that’s just not something that’s acceptable…but also we didn’t want them to have control over the oil, and that part of the world is critical to us because of our dependency on foreign oil. And it’s more important than in any other part of the world.”
McCain then summarized his point by basically restating his remarks from earlier in the day: “We will have independency of foreign oil and we will not have to have that as a factor in any conflict that we have to engage in. …I want us to remove our dependency on foreign oil for national security reasons. That’s what I was saying. And that’s all I mean.”
But then when specifically asked by an Associated Press reporter if, when he made the statement, he was “thinking about the first Gulf War,” he said no.
“No, I was thinking about- it’s not hard to- we will not,” McCain stumbled.
Read the transcript of the conversation between Captain Underpants and the AP reporter at the MSNBC link above.