At a campaign event yesterday, John McCain said, "I can look you in the eye and tell you [the surge] is succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels." Obama-supporter John Kerry then attacked McCain on his "comprehension" of Iraq:
"It's very disturbing to have John McCain constantly raise questions about what he knows and what he bases his judgments on," Kerry said. "If you don't know the number of troops it's very difficult to make a judgment on if they are over-extended." Kerry continued, "It raises serious questions about his comprehension of this challenge."
Does the Obama campaign really want to go there?
Team McCain just held a media conference call with the campaign's foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann and Senator Jon Kyl, who conclude that no, Obama doesn't want to go there. "It's instructive that the Obama campaign, rather than deal with that real issue and Obama's lack of experience, is trying to nitpick the verb or the tense of the verb about the surge troops being home," said Kyl. Obama hasn't been to Iraq since January 2006, and McCain has been five times since then.
"The real point is that al Qaeda has been significantly, significantly degraded in Iraq as well as other places, that the surge that General Petraeus put into place last year has significantly worked, that violence is significantly down, and that as a result of these successes, we are able to bring troops home," said Kyl. Three of the five surge brigades are home and the rest will be home by July, so McCain wasn't incorrect in his statement that we have "drawn down to pre-surge levels."
Scheunemann focused on the Obama camp's dismissive response to the idea of a trip to Iraq with McCain and Obama's numerous gaffes this week. "Senator Obama has said he will follow his withdrawal plan which amounts to retreat and surrender regardless of the events on the ground, regardless of the advice of military commanders," said Scheunemann, responding to a reporter who questioned McCain's verb usage. "If we're going to talk about verb tenses in this level of detail rather than the fact that Senator Obama doesn't care enough about what's going on in Iraq to either meet General Petraeus or to take the time to visit the country in the last 873 days, let's talk about some of the other things Senator Obama has said, like campaigning in 57 states...or...a nonexistent uncle that helped the Red Army liberate Auschwitz."