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McCain's Sunni-Shiite faux pas

From NBC's Mark Murray
As one of my NBC colleagues just asked: What if Clinton or Obama had made this mistake?

The Washington Post: "Sen. John McCain, traveling in the Middle East to promote his foreign policy expertise, misidentified in remarks Tuesday which broad category of Iraqi extremists are allegedly receiving support from Iran. He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq."

More: "Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was 'common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate.' A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then said: 'I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.'"

*** UPDATE *** McCain spokesman Brian Rogers emails First Read: "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."

*** UPDATE II *** The DNC counters, "The campaign's blatant deception ignores the fact that McCain made identical comments during a one-on-one interview with Hugh Hewitt. McCain told Hewitt, 'As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they're moving back into Iraq.'"