From NBC's Mark Murray and Chuck Todd
As we mentioned earlier today, McCain and Obama have already traded some barbs in the past several days. And that continued today. Obama issued this statement responding to McCain's Iraq speech today (and making another jab at the Arizona senator's comments after his Baghdad marketplace visit): "No matter how much this Administration wishes it to be true, the idea that the situation in Iraq is improving because it only takes a security detail of 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships to walk through a market in the middle of Baghdad is simply not credible or reflective of the facts on the ground."
Obama added, "What we need today is a surge in honesty. The truth is, the Iraqis have made little progress toward the political solution between Shiia and Sunni which is the last, best hope to end this war. I believe that letting the Iraqi government know America will not be there forever is the best way to pressure the warring factions toward this political settlement."
In his own speech today, meanwhile, McCain referred to Obama by name -- drawing upon Obama's earlier call for Congress to give Bush a "clean" Iraq supplemental after he vetoes legislation that contains the withdrawal timelines. "When the President vetoes, as he should, the bill that refuses to support General Petraeus' new plan, I hope Democrats in Congress will heed the advice of one of their leading candidates for President, Senator Obama, and immediately pass a new bill to provide support to our troops in Iraq without substituting their partisan interests for those of our troops and our country."
Interestingly, McCain and Obama are actually battling for a similar constituency in one state: New Hampshire, with its famed independent voters. McCain was seen in 2000 as the "different" politician. And now Obama is getting that kind of treatment. New Hampshire independents can wait until Election Day to decide which primary -- Democratic or Republican -- they'll vote in.