McCain criticized Obama’s comment that he might send troops back to Iraq after withdrawing them “if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq.”
“I have some news,” McCain said Wednesday morning in Tyler, Texas. “Al-Qaeda is in Iraq. Al-Qaida is called ‘al-Qaida in Iraq.’ My friends, if we left, they wouldn’t be establishing a base … they would be taking a country. I will not allow that to happen, my friends. I will not surrender.”
McCain has vowed to keep U.S. forces in Iraq as long as it takes to create stability, form a unified government and defeat terrorist groups, The Washington Post reported. He favors adding more troops, if necessary, to achieve those goals.
Obama, who opposed the Iraq war, quickly turned the tables on McCain, telling supporters “There was no such thing as al-Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.”
“Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia” is a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group created after the American invasion in Iraq that U.S. intelligence agencies believe is foreign led, The New York Times reported. It’s unclear how or if it is linked with Osama bin Laden’s network.
By sparring with one another, Obama and McCain could gain mutual benefits.
“For McCain, the decision to pick a fight with Obama helps keep the presumptive GOP nominee from being overshadowed by the battle between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) for the Democratic presidential nomination,” The Post reported. “It also gives him a chance to undermine confidence in Obama’s foreign policy experience before the Democrat can turn full attention to the general election.
“But even as he focuses on a potentially decisive showdown with Clinton in four contests next Tuesday, Obama has made it clear he won’t ignore the attacks from McCain. Generating headlines about an Obama-McCain showdown could also benefit Obama by creating the sense among Democratic primary voters that he is on the verge of becoming their party’s nominee and also that he can hold his own against the Republicans.”