Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the worst in history.

“We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that’s the kindest word I can give you — of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war,” the Arizona senator told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, S.C. “The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously.”

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq.

“I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history,” McCain said to applause.

The comments were in sharp contrast to McCain’s statement when Rumsfeld resigned in November, and failed to address the reality that President Bush is the commander in chief.

“While Secretary Rumsfeld and I have had our differences, he deserves Americans’ respect and gratitude for his many years of public service,” McCain said last year when Rumsfeld stepped down.

On a two-day campaign swing in South Carolina, McCain fielded questions from the crowd for more than an hour and said the United States can succeed in Iraq with additional troops and a new strategy. McCain has been a strong proponent of using more troops and favors Bush’s increase of some 21,500 U.S. forces in the nearly four-year-old war.

“I have been saying for 3 1/2 years that we would be in this sad situation and this critical situation we are in today,” he said.

McCain’s bid for president was sidetracked in South Carolina in 2000 after a victory in New Hampshire. George W. Bush won the primary here and went on to win the nomination and White House.

“In life, one of the worst things you can do is hold a grudge,” he said. “I felt the important thing for me to do with my life was to move forward after we lost our race. You have seen other people who have lost who mire themselves in bitterness and self pity. That’s not what my life is all about.”

Some in the crowd were Bush supporters who have not yet decided on a 2008 candidate.

“It’s too early to say,” said Paul Baker, a retiree from Niagara Falls, N.Y., who has lived in South Carolina about four years. “I’m just going to wait it out and see what happens.”

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. You are all right. McCain wants the White house so bad he prostitutes himself for it soo… easily. Lord find us someone with some personal integrity for a change. I don’t have to believe in every view of a candidate all the time to vote for him, but I have to have confidence that he’ll always be a strait shooter who is ever true to himself and honest with us in all things.

  2. Oh, Boy! Senator McCain shouldl be blaming the one at whose desk the buck eventually stops: Dubya. And while we are at it, let’s rethink Senator McCain himself, whose stands on everything are rather ambiguous, it seems to me. It’s almost deja vu with several peple now saying that they voted for something once, before they voted against it…

  3. Thousands of deaths later, now McCain tells us. McCain is looking less and less like the straight shooter his PR claims. He is also looking less presidential, unless his model is GW Bush. Heaven help us, we don’t need another president like Bush.

  4. Rumsfeld should be put in a fema camp he built for us we are his bosses who do they think they all are we need to get the word to all are military to round them all up now the camps are waiting for them rothchild,rcckefeller and all the corrupt bankers of the federal reserve and irs freedom to facism terror storm google them see for yourself,lets get together this year an do it.

  5. McCain is a huuuuuuuge disappointment! The mere fact he’s turning on Rumsfeld like this while on the campaign trail, tells us everything we need to know about this guy. Well maybe not everything. I’ll supply a link that will bring people up to speed about McCain.

    I consider it required reading for those that are still enamoured with him.

  6. It should be obvious that at this point John McCain is a small man, a damaged man, a desperate man, and unfortunately, a pathetic man. He is rapidly aging and knows that after this run he will have no more chances for national office. He never did a particularly good job of keeping either his ego or ambitions in check but it now appears as if he should change his motto from “the straight talk express” to “pimp my candidacy.”

  7. ‘“I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history,” McCain said to applause.’

    Then why didn’t John McCain advocate impeachment of Rumsfeld when he was in office?

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