From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Romney certainly said the words "timetable" and "milestone," but certainly not in the way McCain frames it. McCain seems to willfully mischaracterize Romney's remarks, as Romney also makes clear in the following clip that he would not support a date certain for troop withdrawal.
What Romney did say was that he thought it was appropriate to have private timetables and milestones between Bush and Maliki. McCain's point may be that Romney even used the words at all. And he's more than willing to use it to his advantage in his political campaign, even if the larger point is inaccurate.
Here's the clip from ABC:
Here's what he said:
"Well, there's no question that the president and Prime Minister Al Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're gonna be gone. You want to have a series of things accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and Iraqi police and the leadership of the Iraqi government.
It was then pointed out to Romney that President Bush has said he would not support anything from Congress with a date certain for withdrawal. He was asked where he stands and if he would do the same. His response:
"Well, of course, can you imagine the setting where during the second world war we said to the Germans, 'Gee if we haven't reached the Rhine by this date, well, we'll go home' or 'if we haven't gotten this accomplished we'll pull up and leave.' You don't publish that to your enemy or they'll just lie and wait til that time. So, of course, you have to work together to create timetables and milestones, but you don't do that with the opposition."