Posted: May 29, 2008 1:47 PM
Obama Might Visit Iraq, But Not with McCain
Sen. Barack Obama said Thursday that he might visit U.S. forces in Iraq sometime this summer, but declined Sen. John McCain’s invitation to travel to the war zone together, calling the idea a “political stunt.”
Obama told the New York Times that his campaign was considering a foreign trip after he secures the Democratic presidential nomination, which he foresees happening by next week.
“Iraq would obviously be at the top of the list of stops,” he said.
Of McCain’s invitation for a joint trip, Obama said, “I think that if I’m going to Iraq, then I’m there to talk to troops and talk to commanders, I’m not there to try to score political points or perform. The work they’re doing there is too important.”
Obama’s aides have quietly discussed a foreign trip for weeks, but the Democrats’ prolonged fight for the nomination has stifled making any concrete plans, the Times reported. With the November general election just five months away, such a trip might not be feasible for the Democratic front-runner. Obama made his first visit to Iraq in 2006.
McCain and the Republican National Committee have continued to attack Obama on foreign policy this week, pointing out that he hasn’t visited Iraq since January 2006.
Much like the Obama Watch clock launched earlier this year on Fox News Sunday, the RNC rolled out a clock to track how long it’s been Iraq has seen the Illinois senator’s shadow.
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton told the Times: “On the day after the former White House press secretary conceded that the Bush administration used deception and propaganda to take us to war, it seems odd that Senator McCain, who bought the flawed rationale for war so readily, would be lecturing others on their depth of understanding about Iraq.
“Senator Obama challenged the president’s rationale for the war from the start, warning that it would divert resources from Afghanistan and the pursuit of al-Qaida and mire us in an endless civil war. Senator McCain stubbornly insists on pursuing the failed Bush policy that continues to cost so much, while Senator Obama believes it’s time to begin a deliberate, careful strategy to remove our troops and compel the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future.”
McCain, whose last two serious rivals for the GOP nomination, dropped out in February and early March, has enjoyed three uncontested months to let the Democrats fight amongst themselves, raise funds and embark on various themed tours of the U.S., including the autobiographical ‘Service to America’ tour, a Call to Action tour, which focused on health care reform and the ‘It’s Time for Action’ tour of “forgotten communities.”
McCain traveled to the Middle East in March after securing enough delegates to win the GOP nomination, making a heavily guarded stop in Iraq, emphasizing the trip’s congressional agenda rather than his position as his party’s presumptive nominee.
But McCain misspoke about ties between Iran and al-Qaida during the trip, which was supposed to underscore his foreign policy knowledge.
On Thursday, McCain responded with some sarcasm to the news that Obama was thinking about going to Iraq.
“It’s long overdue, it’s been 871 days since he was there. And I’m confident that when he goes he will then change his position on the conflict in Iraq, because he will see the success that has been achieved on the ground.”