From NBC's Mark Murray
While Obama today blasted McCain over his campaign's ties to lobbyists and linked him to President Bush's foreign policy, McCain fired back, questioning Obama's foreign-policy judgment and experience.
"After Senator Obama's own advisers and supporters backtracked from his stated desire to hold summit meetings with the leaders of the world's worst regimes, Senator Obama himself has begun to reinterpret his stand," the Arizona senator said in a statement. "He now claims that some 'fear' to 'negotiate' with the likes of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who has called Israel a 'stinking corpse' or Ayatollah Khamenei, who called Israel a 'cancerous tumor.' I have news for Senator Obama: I have met some very bad people before in my life. It is not fear that drives my opposition to unconditional meetings with Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, Kim Jong Il, and Raul Castro; rather it is my clear understanding that such a course will fail to eliminate the threat posed by these rogue regimes. I don't fear to negotiate. Instead I have the knowledge and experience to understand the dangerous consequences of a naive approach to Presidential summits based entirely on emotion."
"The question before the American people is which candidate is best able to secure the peace for the next generation of Americans, a peace that will keep our nation safe, prosperous and free. Senator Obama's desire to meet unconditionally in his first year at the presidential level with Iranian leaders is reckless, and demonstrates poor judgment that will make the world more dangerous...
"Senator Obama has consistently offered his judgment on Iraq, and he has been consistently wrong. He said that General Petraeus' new strategy would not reduce sectarian violence, but would worsen it. He was wrong. He said the dynamics in Iraq would not change as a result of the 'surge.' He was wrong. One year ago, he voted to cut off all funds for our forces fighting extremists in Iraq. He was wrong...
"We continue to face challenges in Iraq, and we have a lot of work ahead. Yet the American people must ask whether we are more or less likely to succeed there if Senator Obama has his way. Each of these positive developments in Iraq is the direct result of the new strategy that Senator Obama opposed. Senator Obama consistently predicted the new strategy would fail, and at every step events have demonstrated his judgment was consistently wrong. He now says that he intends to withdraw combat troops from Iraq -- one to two brigades per month until they are all removed -- regardless of the conditions in Iraq, irrespective of the consequences for our national security, and despite the best advice of our commanders on the ground. He is wrong again, and the American people deserve a President who has the strength, judgment and experience to keep our country safe and secure."
*** UPDATE *** The Obama camp sends along this response from the Illinois senator: "While I always appreciate hearing the news from John McCain, he should explain to the American people why almost every single promise and prediction that he has made about Iraq has turned to be catastrophically wrong, including his support for a surge that was supposed to achieve political reconciliation. While John McCain offers his poor judgment in supporting George Bush's war and a failed foreign policy that has left us less secure, I will continue to make the case for a new foreign policy that deploys all elements of American power -- including tough, principled and direct diplomacy. It's stunning that in such a lengthy written statement, John McCain could not articulate a single new idea that hasn't been tried -- and failed -- over the last eight years."