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McCain Again Slams Obama for 'Surge' Opposition

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) greets audience members as he makes a campaign stop at the American GI Forum Convention in Denver, July 25, 2008. (Associated Press)

By Robert Barnes
DENVER -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) today sharply rebuked his Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) over his policies on the Iraq war, saying Obama practices the "audacity of hopelessness" and has failed the test to be commander in chief.

Speaking to an association of Hispanic veterans, McCain renewed his criticism of Obama's opposition to an additional "surge" of troops into Iraq in 2007, which McCain said made the war winnable.

A decision not to deploy additional troops, McCain said, would have left "Iraq and our strategic position in the Middle East in ruins, risking a wider war in the near future."

The decision on whether to deploy additional troops "amounted to a real-time test for a future commander in chief," McCain said. "America passed that test. I believe my judgment passed that test. And I believe Senator Obama's failed."

Ever since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said there should be a timeframe for removing U.S. troops from the country -- a position similar to Obama's position that combat troops should be withdrawn in 16 months -- McCain has focused on Obama's opposition to the surge.

He has cast it both as a showing of political courage, because the deployment of additional troops was unpopular with a public disenchanted with the war, and a mark of his superior military knowledge.

McCain said he had long advocated the deployment of additional troops as the last chance to rescue a failing war effort, "My choice was not smart politics," McCain said. "It didn't test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn't matter."

By contrast, McCain said, Obama chose a politically popular position that he said would have forced American troops to "retreat under fire."

The Obama campaign replied equally sharply.

"The American people are looking for a serious debate about the way forward in Iraq and Afghanistan, and angry, false accusations will do nothing to accomplish that goal," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

"Barack Obama and John McCain may differ over our strategy in Iraq, but they are united in their support for our brave troops and their desire to protect this nation. Senator McCain's constant suggestion otherwise is not worthy of the campaign he claimed he would run or the magnitude of the challenges this nation faces."

The campaign also called "distasteful and misleading" a McCain's charge that Obama voted against troop funding in May 2007. The campaign said it is literally true, but that the Illinois senator had voted to fund the war effort 10 times. The disputed vote came after President Bush vetoed a funding measure that carried nonbinding language calling for a withdrawal from Iraq.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 25, 2008; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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