McCain VFW Speech Hits Obama's Iraq War Judgment
By Perry Bacon, Jr.
ORLANDO -- John McCain criticized Barack Obama's "judgment" and "shifting positions" on Iraq in a speech here this morning, repeating a familiar attack on the senator from Illinois for opposing an increase in troops in Iraq that has helped reduce violence there.
"The surge has succeeded and yet Senator Obama still cannot quite bring himself to admit his own failure in judgment," McCain a crowd of several thousand attending the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "Nor has he been willing to heed the guidance of General Petraeus, or to listen to our troops on the ground when they say, as they have said to me on my trips to Iraq, 'Let us win, just let us win.' Instead, Senator Obama commits the greater error of insisting that even in hindsight, even in hindsight, he would oppose the surge."
He added, "both candidates in this election pledge to end this war and bring our troops home. The great difference, the great difference is that I intend to win it first."
McCain defines winning as an Iraq government capable of protecting itself and its people, and says it would a mistake to leave "before al-Qaeda in Iraq is defeated and before a competent, trained and capable Iraqi security force is in place and operating effectively." He opposes setting any timetable for troop withdrawal there, in contrast to Obama's pledge to remove all combat troops from Iraq in his first two years as president.
McCain's argument about judgment on foreign policy comes as the race for the White House is taking a familiar turn: the GOP nominee is touting his credentials on foreign relations, while the Democrat is increasingly focused on jobs, health care and other pocketbook issues.
McCain repeated his tough talk about Russia's conflict with Georgia, saying "there will be no place among G-8 nations, or in the WTO, for a modern Russia that acts at times like the old Soviet Union. The Cold War is over, the Soviet empire is gone, and neither one is missed."
He cast the situation as a reason to elect him, saying, "in matters of national security, good judgment will be at a premium in the term of the next president."
Posted at 11:24 AM ET on Aug 18, 2008
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