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McCain vs. Obama: Visiting Iraq

McCain and the GOP continued to hammer Obama for not visiting Iraq. The LA Times writes, "Speaking with evident condescension, Arizona Sen. John McCain needled Barack Obama on Wednesday by offering to travel to Iraq with the Illinois senator to help him gain a better understanding of the war and the consequences of withdrawing troops. The attack by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was in line with his campaign's recent attempts to portray Obama as too young and inexperienced to lead the nation."

"Speaking before a boisterous crowd of 500 who gathered for a town-hall-style meeting here, McCain accused his Democratic rival of ignoring the successes of the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq and suggested that Obama was ignorant of the facts. 'To say that we failed in Iraq and 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,' McCain said."

But after this McCain attack came this news from the New York Times' Zeleny: Obama has been considering a trip to Iraq. "Senator Barack Obama said today that he is considering visiting American troops and commanders in Iraq this summer. He declined an invitation from Senator John McCain to take a joint trip to Iraq, saying, 'I just don't want to be involved in a political stunt.' In a brief interview here, Mr. Obama said his campaign was considering taking a foreign trip after he secures the Democratic presidential nomination. No details have been set, he said, but added: 'Iraq would obviously be at the top of the list of stops.'" 

"For weeks, aides to Mr. Obama have been quietly discussing a foreign trip, but the long Democratic nominating fight has delayed making any concrete plans. Now, with only five months remaining until the general election, it remains unclear whether there will be time to take such a trip. Mr. Obama suggested today that any foreign itinerary would include a stop in Iraq." 

McCain used this news to once again hammer Obama. At an avail yesterday in California, McCain said that Obama taking a trip to Iraq is long overdue, per NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann: "It's been 871 days since he was there. And I'm confident that when he goes he will then change his position on the conflict in Iraq because he will see the success that has been achieved on the ground."

NBC/NJ's Athena Jones notes that Obama's campaign neither confirmed nor denied that he was considering a trip to Iraq. Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki said: "A trip abroad is under consideration. There are no plans at this point." She added that Iraq was a place he would consider.

Obama said this about the issue: "I haven't seen McCain's comments today. But I was asked about the Republicans trying to make the issue of frequency of visiting Iraq, and what I said was that the Republicans don't have a strong position to argue when it comes to substance. Their foreign policy has been a failure over the last eight years. The war in Iraq was a huge strategic blunder, our standing in the world is diminished, we've spend hundreds of billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives, Afghanistan is in worst shape than anytime since 2001 and we have Osama bin Laden sending out audio tapes, so it's not surprising they're not going to want to argue the substance of what's happened in their foreign policy. They're going to come up with diversions. But I think the American people are going to be a lot more interested in whether or now we're focused on the problems."