POLITICS
05/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain Implies Iraq War Is For Oil: Watch Video

UPDATE BELOW: McCain stumbles trying to explain his comments...

During a town hall event in Colorado today, John McCain "decried the dangers of Americans reliance on foreign oil," but "also seemed to suggest that this reliance caused the current struggle in Iraq."

Here's what he said:

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 that will - that will then prevent us - that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.

Adam Aigner-Treworgy of NBC/National Journal has more:

This comment was initially prompted by a compliment from a military veteran who stated that he hoped a group called "Swift Boats for McCain come out and help" the GOP nominee. McCain then launched into an unprompted defense of the DNC campaign against him based on his 100-year statement.

"You have seen an ad campaign that is mounted against me that says I wanted to stay and fight in Iraq for 100 years," McCain said to a crowd at a Jewish Community Center. "My friends, it's a direct falsification, and I'm sorry that political campaigns have to deteriorate in this fashion because there's legitimate differences between myself and Senator Obama and Senator Clinton on what we should do in Iraq. After we win the war in Iraq ... then I'm talking about a security arrangement that may or may not be the same kind of thing we have with South - with Korea."

Of note -- McCain didn't object to the audience member's suggestion that a so-called 'swift boat' group help him win the presidency. Instead, he thanked the man for his good wishes and his military service.

Later on Friday McCain sought to clarify the remarks he made earlier in the day about the Iraq war and oil. From the AP:

"No, no, I was talking about that we had fought the Gulf War for several reasons," McCain told reporters.

One reason was Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, he said. "But also we didn't want him 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 any other part of the world," he said.

"If the word `again' was misconstrued, I want us to remove our dependency on foreign oil for national security reasons, and that's all I mean," McCain said.

"The Congressional Record is very clear: I said we went to war in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction," he said.

UPDATE: So, McCain's defense of his comments was that he was really talking about the first Gulf War. "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." Huh?

"No, I was thinking about - it's not hard to - we will not," McCain stumbled. "By eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, we will not have to have our national security threatened by a cut off of that oil. Because we will be dependent, because we won't be dependent, we will no longer be dependent on foreign oil. That's what my remarks were."

He was sure to emphasize over and over again that the reason he supported the War in Iraq was because he "believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and he was going to use them."

McCain said "the congressional record is replete with that and for me to change my view, how many years later, I mean would, just wouldn't be logical."