McCain Criticizes Clinton's 'White Flag'
By Juliet Eilperin
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.--Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) forcefully attacked Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) today for suggesting during Monday's Democratic debate that she would set a 60-day timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq if elected president.
"For the first time in American political history, a candidate for president has called for surrender and raised the white flag," McCain told reporters. "I think that's terrible."
During a town hall with voters here McCain made the same point, arguing that one of the reasons he decided to pursue his candidacy even when his campaign was floundering over the summer was because he wanted to block the Democrats' push for withdrawal from Iraq. When a voter questioned him on whether President Bush was negotiating a pact with Iraq to keep American forces there for years to come, McCain defended the idea of having an extended U.S. presence there, along the lines of what exists in other countries where we have engaged in military conflicts.
"It's not the American presence in Iraq people care about, it's American casualties," he said, noting the U.S. still stations troops in Kuwait. "Does that bother you?" He added, "I haven't seen anybody demonstrating to get our troops out of Bosnia, I don't see anybody demonstrating to get our troops out of Kuwait, or South Korea."
Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson, however, defended the senator's pledge to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq shortly upon taking office.
"Senator Clinton and Senator McCain disagree," Wolfson wrote in an e-mail to the Post's Anne Kornblut. "Senator McCain says it would be fine with him if our troops were in Iraq for 100 years. Senator Clinton wants to end the war and will bring our troops home quickly and responsibly. That's the best way to defend our nation and protect our national security interests."
Washington Post editors
January 24, 2008; 2:54 PM ET
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