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Press Release - "In Case You Missed It": John McCain On Senator Obama And National Security Leadership

May 28, 2008

"Why is it that Senator Obama wants to sit down with the President of Iran, but hasn't yet sat down with General Petraeus -- the leader of our troops in Iraq?" -- John McCain

John McCain At Town Hall Meeting In Reno, Nevada

May 28, 2008

"I think you all know that this war has been long and hard and tough. And it's meant enormous sacrifice on the part of Americans in blood and treasure. Over 4,000 brave young Americans have been sacrificed. And let's face it, this war was very badly mishandled for nearly four years. It's just a fact. But thank God we have a new general and a new strategy, and we are succeeding, and we are winning in Iraq. We are winning. Thanks to the service and sacrifice of these brave young Americans who also know that we are winning there. You can ask them.

"Now, I've been back to Iraq on many occasions. I've been back, because I think it's important that if you're involved in a major decision-making, the most vital decision that any President of the United States can make or frankly any elected official has got to be about the security of this nation, and the lives of young Americans who are serving. That's important. That's very important. The security of this nation and its future security against the threats and the challenge of radical Islamic extremism are transcendent. It's always transcendent to every president all throughout our nation's history.

"And so Senator Obama and I have a strong disagreement on this issue. And Senator Obama has been to Iraq once. A little over two years ago he went, and he has never seized the opportunity, except in a hearing, to meet with General Petraeus, with General Petraeus! My friends, this is about leadership and learning.

"I went to Iraq right after the initial success of the invasion, and sergeants came up to me and captains and majors and others came up to me and they said, 'Senator McCain, we're going to lose this way. We've got to have more troops over here. We've got to have a new strategy.' And I went back and fought for the new strategy. And it took too long. But why did I do that? Because I learned. I learned from the men and women who are serving in the military. I learned.

"Senator Obama is the chairman of an important subcommittee that has the oversight of what's going on in Afghanistan. He has not held one single hearing on Afghanistan where young Americans are in harm's way as we speak. My friends, this is about leadership.

"This is about what America is about, but it's also about the qualities of a President of the United States. Now, I asked Senator Obama to go to Iraq. I asked him to go back, and I asked him to meet with General Petraeus and our great Ambassador there, Ambassador Crocker. And I said I would go with him, if necessary.

"I'd be glad to go with him, because these issues are far more important than any election. The security of this nation is far more important than any political campaign. And you know it's not often that I read the statements issued by my opponents. But let me tell you what his campaign and he has said in response to this proposal to accompany him to Iraq so he could meet General Petraeus and he could meet Ambassador Crocker and he could see. He could see the fact that Sadr City is quiet. He could see that the Maliki government is taking control of Basra. He could see that the Iraqi military is leading the fight in these places with the support of American troops. And to say that we failed in Iraq and that we're not succeeding, does not comport with the facts on the ground. So we've got to show him the facts on the ground.

"Let me tell you what his campaign said about my proposal. 'John McCain's proposal is nothing more than a political stunt, and we don't need any more mission accomplished banners or walks through Baghdad markets to know that Iraq's leaders have not made the political progress that was the stated purpose of the surge. The American people don't want any more false promises of progress. They deserve a real debate about a war that has overstretched our military and cost the U.S. thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars without making the U.S. safer.'

"My friends, that is a profound misunderstanding, a profound misunderstanding, of what's happened in Iraq and what's at stake in Iraq, because if we set a date for withdrawal, which Senator Obama wants to do, there will be chaos. There will be genocide. There will be increased Iranian influence there, and we will have to go back with further sacrifice of American blood and treasure. I will never let that happen as President of the United States. I will never surrender in Iraq. I will not let that happen.

"And let me just point out one other aspect of this to you. Senator Obama has said, as you know, that he wants to sit down without any preconditions with the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad. He has said that he wants to sit down with a leader of a country that a few days ago called Israel a quote, 'stinking corpse'. He wants to sit down with a leader of a country that -- as recent news reports indicate clearly -- is moving towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons which could destabilize the entire region, obviously. Not to mention the direct threat to the existence of the state of Israel.

"More importantly perhaps, to many families and to you and to me, this is the leader of a country that is sending the most explosive devices, the most lethal explosive devices into Iraq and killing young Americans. Now, why is it that Senator Obama wants to sit down with the President of Iran, but hasn't yet sat down with General Petraeus -- the leader of our troops in Iraq? So I look forward to continuing this debate with Senator Obama and Senator Clinton as well. I look forward to continuing this debate, and I want you to know that my dedication to this nation is one that I'm not going to worry about the political consequences."

Watch John McCain In Reno, Nevada

John McCain, Press Release - "In Case You Missed It": John McCain On Senator Obama And National Security Leadership Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/291677

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