Addressing a town hall audience in Albuquerque, N.M., Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain slammed Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama’s suggestion that the U.S. needs a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and touted his views on how to triumph in Afghanistan.
Sen. McCain also addressed Obama’s plan to shift America’s military focus in the region to Afghanistan — which the Illinois senator laid out in his own policy speech Tuesday — saying Obama lacks the experience to lead in the critical war on terror.
“I know how to win wars,” McCain said, according to ABC News.. “If I’m elected president, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory. I know how to do that.”
McCain said the status quo in Afghanistan “is not acceptable,” saying the U.S. can win the battle against the Taliban by “applying the tried and true principles of counterinsurgency used in the surge” in Iraq, the Washington Post reported.
McCain repeated his message that Obama’s perception of the lack of U.S. progress in Iraq and Afghanistan is incorrect, saying that the success of the U.S. military surge in Iraq is what’s allowing leaders to move forward in Afghanistan.
“Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say that they need at least three additional brigades. Thanks to the success of the surge, these forces are becoming available, and our commanders in Afghanistan must get them,” McCain said.
The Vietnam War veteran and long-time Senate Armed Services Committee member blamed his rival’s lack of experience for their disagreements on Iraq and Afghanistan, noting that Obama has scheduled a fact-finding mission to both countries but delivered his foreign policy outlines prior to the trip.
“In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around; first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy,” the Arizona senator said. “So this is certainly a departure to what I have usually done.”
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that the American public is largely split on which candidate has a better plan. The poll shows that 48 percent of Americans say Obama would make the better commander-in-chief, while another 48 percent said McCain would. There are only slight variations on the public’s perception on which candidate would handle the war in Iraq better, with 47 percent saying they trust McCain over Obama and 45 percent saying they have more faith in Obama.
In his speech Tuesday, McCain attempted to build on his slight edge by touting his long military record.
“In wartime, judgment and experience matter,” he said. “I will bring to the job many years of military and political experience; experience that gave me the judgment necessary to make the right call in Iraq a year and a half ago.”