When U.S. troops leave Iraq 'not too important,' McCain says
Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News ServicePublished: Wednesday, June 11, 2008
WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Wednesday said it's "not too important" when American troops leave Iraq, provoking a daylong political battle with Democrat Barack Obama that underscored the stark differences between the two candidates on how to end the five-year-old war.
During an interview on NBC's Today Show, McCain was asked about the apparent success of the U.S. military surge in Iraq and whether he now had a better estimate of when Americans forces could return home.
"No, but that's not too important," McCain replied. "What's important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany. That's all fine."
Obama's campaign seized on the first portion of McCain's answer, however, claiming it highlighted McCain's "confusion" over the long-term impact of the war on the U.S. military and treasury.
"John McCain does not have a strategy for transitioning this mission, and he has shown a series of contradictions in his statements that reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the conflict," Sen. John Kerry, the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, said in an Obama campaign conference call.
"John McCain is offering a recipe to keep the military overextended, keep our troops in danger, keep our enemies in power and our attention diverted from the real centre of the war on terror, which is Afghanistan and Pakistan."