'100 Year' Charges Misleading, Say News Orgs

Amanda Carpenter

4/2/2008 5:23:57 PM - Amanda Carpenter

A trio of reputable organizations say Democratic-led charges, including those made by presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, that GOP candidate John McCain supports 100 years of war are misleading.

The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review and Annenberg Public Policy Center have issued articles explaining how Democrats have been taking a statement McCain made on the campaign trial out of context for political advantage.

At a stop in New Hampshire last January McCain was asked at a town hall meeting about how President Bush “has talked about our staying in Iraq fifty years.” McCain replied: “McCain: Maybe a hundred. Make it one hundred. We've been in South Korea, we've been in Japan for sixty years. We've been in South Korea for fifty years or so. That'd be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. Then it's fine with me. I would hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day.”

McCain’s response was filmed by a Democratic field operative and put on YouTube. Soon after, the Democratic National Committee, Clinton and Obama used it to make the claim that McCain supports “100 years of war in Iraq.”

Recent examples of these distortions include a Democratic National Committee statement, issued March 31, said McCain “admits he doesn't understand the economy, and is willing to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years” and remarks Clinton and Obama have made while campaigning.

Clinton said in a major foreign policy speech in Washington on March 17, “He’s [McCain] willing to keep this war going 100 years, you can count on him to do that.”

While campaigning in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Obama told supporters, “We can't afford to stay in Iraq, like John McCain said, for another 100 years.”

The attacks formally began in February when the DNC, tasked with raising money to support the Democratic presidential nominee and their party's get-out-the-vote activities, blasted out a fundraising appeal that contained a laundry list of dirty tricks to be used against McCain.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s site, Factcheck.org, was the first to sound the alarm on the issue by saying the political group was making false charges. “The DNC paints McCain as favoring ‘endless war’ in Iraq. What McCain actually said is that he wouldn't mind a hundred-year troop presence "as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed.”

After reviewing the claims, The Washington Post’s Political Fact Checker concluded “they [Democrats] have twisted his words.”

Of the three, the Columbia Journalism Review’s Zachary Roth was the most critical of the Democrats, of Obama in particular. “Obama is seriously misleading voters—if not outright lying to them—about exactly what McCain said. And some in the press are failing to call him on it,” wrote Roth.