Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spent his Thanksgiving holiday with U.S. troops in Iraq and touted the improvements he observed on the trip. He traveled to Baghdad and Anbar province with a group of senators to examine the impact of the recent U.S. troop surge. According to Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post, the senators sat down with troops for a turkey dinner on Thursday and had meetings with Gen. David Petreaus and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, among others.
Upon his return, McCain appeared on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos to talk about the trip.
“I was severely criticized by Republicans for advocating the strategy that’s succeeding now and being against Secretary Rumsfeld’s strategy. And I understand that,” McCain told Stephanopoulos. “And none of the other people who are running for the Republican nomination said one word against that strategy or for the strategy that’s working. It’s got to do with experience.”
McCain’s campaign also used the trip as an opportunity to reach out to donors. In an e-mail message sent out Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who accompanied McCain on the trip, asked supporters for contributions.
“This wasn’t my first trip with John nor will it be my last,” Graham wrote. “I have seen his leadership first-hand for years now and I want him to be my president.”
With the Thanksgiving holiday over, the McCain campaign is once again turning its attention to the early primary states — New Hampshire in particular. The senator has a new commercial in the Granite State, called Love America Enough.
“This ad has New Hampshire written all over it,” writes Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press. “McCain is evoking the maverick image that won over the state’s independent voters in 2000 and helped him beat George Bush in the state’s presidential primary.”
But Kuhnhenn also says the ad is a “double-edged sword.”
“It highlights his support for changes in campaign finance law, an issue that irritated many leading conservatives who saw it as a muzzle on free speech,” Kuhnhenn writes. “And in talking about how often he has made others angry, McCain displays a combative style that could draw unwanted attention to his own reputation for a withering temper.”
While recent press coverage has focused on McCain’s campaign in New Hampshire, he is not forsaking South Carolina and is spending the next three days on a multi-town swing through the Palmetto State. He then heads to Florida Wednesday evening to participate in the CNN/You Tube/Google Republican presidential candidate debate.
Also Monday, McCain’s campaign announced that former presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, would campaign on McCain’s behalf in Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday.