Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has launched a full public relations offensive in support of the Iraq troop surge that will continue over the next week.
In an op-ed published in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, McCain and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman urged lawmakers to listen to the recommendations of Iraq’s top U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, who is testifying before Congress this week about the surge.
“As al-Qaeda in Iraq continues to be hunted down and rooted out, and the Iraqi Army continues to improve, the U.S. footprint will no doubt adjust,” the two senators wrote. “But these adjustments should be left to the discretion of Gen. Petraeus, not forced on our troops by politicians in Washington with a 6,000-mile congressional screwdriver, and, perhaps, an eye on the 2008 election.”
McCain also appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. He said that it was important to win in Iraq not only for the safety and security of the Iraqi people, but also for the morale and honor of American troops.
“In the 1970s after we were defeated, we had riots on our aircraft carriers,” McCain told Stephanopoulos. “We had rampant drug use. We had insubordination. We had a broken Army. And it took us a decade to recover from that. I don’t want to see a defeated Army.”
McCain plans to stay on his pro-surge message on Tuesday, the six-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when he begins his No Surrender tour in Sioux City, Iowa.
Perhaps the most talked about moment was when McCain took on former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Mitt Romney for saying the troop surge was only “apparently” working. You can see McCain’s response here:
His answers at the debate prompted David Broder of the Washington Post to muse that, “two hours before Fred Thompson formally entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination, his old friend John McCain turned in the kind of performance that once would have kept Thompson from running.”
And the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader wrote on Friday that McCain’s new-found vigor “was apparent Wednesday night as McCain emerged from the debate the clear and convincing winner. National pundits have written off McCain. But he is showing that the reports of his political death are premature. And he is breathing new life into his campaign in the only place such a feat is possible: in New Hampshire.”
McCain’s campaign tried to take immediate advantage of the good press, with campaign manager Rick Davis asking supporters for contributions.
“At last night’s debate, voters in New Hampshire and around the country saw the John McCain we know and support — now it’s our turn to stand up and make sure every voter gets to know John McCain before they cast their ballot,” Davis wrote in an e-mail.
Before heading out on his No Surrender tour, McCain plans to attend finance events in Virginia on Monday and be in Washington, D.C., for Petreaus’ testimony on Tuesday.