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Campaign denies McCain’s Iran/al Qaeda ‘gaffe.’

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"Campaign denies McCain’s Iran/al Qaeda ‘gaffe.’"

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Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that Iranian operatives are “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back” — despite the fact that Iran is a Shiite nation and al Qaeda are Sunni fighters. Responding to reports of McCain’s factually inaccurate claim, the McCain campaign released a statement attempting to paint the senator’s fundamental error as an isolated slip of the tongue:

In a press conference today, John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is in fact supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not Al Qaeda — as the transcript shows. Democrats have launched political attacks today because they know the American people have deep concerns about their candidates’ judgment and readiness to lead as commander in chief.

The fact that McCain made identical remarks on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show as well makes it clear McCain did not simply “misspeak.” What’s more, McCain corrected himself only after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) “stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear.”

UPDATE: Fox News aired footage of Lieberman correcting McCain during today’s press conference. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/03/mccainlibi.320.240.flv]

Update

A video by CNN shows that McCain repeated the inaccurate claim twice during the same press conference, bringing his total number of “misspeaks” to three.

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