What really happened in Obama, McCain Afghan exchange

October 7, 2009

It sounded like a pretty sexy story — a clash of the titans between President Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain in the big White House meeting yesterday on Afghanistan. USA/

But the McCain folks are pushing back against this notion that tempers were flaring between Obama and McCain as reported by major media outlets.

McCain has made no secret of what he feels is an urgent need to increase U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and he repeated that appeal in the meeting, saying he hopes the president will make his decision soon and “not in a leisurely fashion,” according to McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan.

News accounts of the exchange behind closed doors have said Obama responded curtly that he was not acting in a leisurely fashion, but McCain, as relayed by Buchanan, said Obama made the comment in his wrapup remarks and that he in no way sounded irritated.

Buchanan told us that McCain is “astonished” that this has been blown up into a big hullabaloo and that the senator appreciated that Obama had the entire congressional leadership over to the White House to discuss Afghanistan.

AFGHANISTAN/Our Caren Bohan checked in with a senior administration official who confirmed that Obama’s comment that the decision-making process “won’t be leisurely” was made in the president’s wrapup comments and not immediately after McCain spoke.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin responded more directly to McCain’s comments, according to the official. Levin said that Obama was entitled to take the time he needs to make the decision and he pointed out that President George W. Bush took three months to make a decision about whether to boost troops in Iraq.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (McCain speaking after Afghanistan meeting at White House), Reuters/Asmaa Waguih (U.S. Marines on patrol in Afghanistan)

15 comments

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Will McCain ever learn that Obama is the president and not him?

Posted by Joe G. | Report as abusive

I remember John McCain rushed and suspended his campaign.

Posted by T.L. | Report as abusive

It is apparent the few people realize there are three branches of government executive, legislative and judicial all providing balance. Therefore Senator McCain should question the executive branch. There should be frequent and lively discourse between the executive and legislative branches.

Posted by Bill A | Report as abusive

Obama is going through his Chicago address book looking for another Czar to advise him on this issue.

Posted by Glenn | Report as abusive

McCain is a decorated military veteran that was a POW for a number of years from a family of Military. Count his years of public service and his sense of service and honor I believe that he has every right to question President Obama who has none of the military experience or insight. Obama should respect highly the opinions of people such as McCain and Gen. McCrystal.

Posted by Dohn D. | Report as abusive

This 24-year retired officer thinks that Obama needs to listen to people like Andrew Bacevich and show warmongers like McCain the door.

I seems Senator McCain is still trying to win the Vietnam war. Since he let himself get shot down, captured, and confess during interrogation I guess he has a stake in “getting it right” this time. But that doesn’t mean the mission now or then can further the security interests of the United States. Military “experience” or not, I think the first consideration should be what’s good for the country not personal history or ideology.

Yeah, John McCain, I’m sure the “troops” don’t want a Commander In Chief to think too much before sending them out to risk their lives on a mission. John McCain likes to speak on behalf of the “troops” but name for me a platoon leader that wants the Commander In Chief to make a knee-jerk decision. John McCain is the lamest politician EVER. I mean, people, let’s remember his campaign for the White House. That’s the judgement we’re talking about here. LAME.

Posted by John McCain't | Report as abusive

Beying a president is a big responsability, not a bikering slap session on whos said what.

I think right now Obama is thinking how he can save his own neck with the people and face reality.

Very Inmature of Obama

Posted by Ian | Report as abusive

McCain still has alot of sour grapes in his mouth after his miserable campaign and decisive defeat by a rookie.
His temper tantrums and bitterness will cause this old and banged up old dude a heart attack soon.Its time he accepts he was never born to be president of anything except his home.

Posted by Julius | Report as abusive

The decision by the President is only difficult because of political reasons. If he sends more troops, he knows he is likely to loose his democratic support and his agenda for the “Change we can believe in!” His ego won’t let him make a decision based upon what is in the best interests of the United States and our military men and women. He has no experience and as Hillary Clinton once said, “This job isn’t, “a job for-on-the-job training” and she was correct. His lack of experience certainly shows but I’m sure he will make a decision that will further embarrass the United States to our allies.

and it shows.

Posted by Larry B | Report as abusive

I think military increase in Afghanistan will end up with irreversible tragedy.

Posted by hsr0601 | Report as abusive

What is it with Democrats and ad hominim attacks? It almost seems to be a reflex action with them.

Republican says something, personal attack. McCain says something, personal attack. Person critisises Obama, personal attack.

But enough about that.

Lets all sit back, and watch our beloved president as he shows us his experience and wisdom. He planned it all out before being elected, right?

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Typical Obama. Dragging his feet when it comes to making important decision. What does he knows about running the war or anything else in that matter? Give our guys who fighting in that s…hole help, or get out completely. Taking your sweet time puts them in more hardship and risk.

Posted by Phillip | Report as abusive

Isn’t it time to bring them home where they belong? I hope this doesn’t become the new Iraq….:(

Posted by V | Report as abusive