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McCain 'optimistic' about Iraq plan

From NBC's Ken Strickland
Earlier this morning on the Senate floor, GOP Sen. John McCain said, "I am cautiously optimistic that the plan as laid out by the president can lead to success."

McCain was among those congressional members briefed on the President Obama's Iraq withdrawal plan yesterday at the White House. "I believe the president's withdrawal is a reasonable one. I think the plan is reasonable."

The Arizona senator credited "the surge," as well as the work by Gens. Petraeus and Odierno and Ambassador Crocker for improving security in Iraq and thereby allowing Obama's withdrawal plan to be implemented. "The failing situation in Iraq has been arrested and reversed," he said.

But he quickly added "the president's plan is not without risk. We have not yet completed the mission in Iraq, and the gains we have made there remain fragile." McCain also said the greatest risk will be the period leading up to and during Iraq's elections in December when "conditions could worsen."

With that in mind, McCain urged Obama to keep the full complement of 50,000 troops in Iraq "and not succumb to pressures, political or otherwise, to make deeper or faster cuts in our force levels."

"After all the tragic losses of life, after the hundreds of billions of dollars spent, after all the other costs our country has absorbed as a result of the conduct of this war, we are finally on a path to success."