Election 2008

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John McCain

McCain’s ‘Surge’ Comments Put Him on the Defensive

July 24, 2008 04:18 PM
by Josh Katz
Sen. John McCain defended his words about the timetable of the Iraq troop surge on Wednesday, as critics emphasized his increasing number of similar mistakes.

30-Second Summary

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Katie Couric of CBS spoke with McCain and Ill. Sen. Barack Obama July 23 about their stances on the state of the Iraq war. In the interview, McCain criticized Obama’s statement that the improved situation in Iraq is due in large part to Shiite offensives against militants and the Sunni Awakening, when Sunni Iraqis became actively engaged in combating insurgents.

McCain said that the troop surge, which he supported, brought about the Sunni Awakening. CBS, however, had deleted that portion of the interview, and only when the media obtained a transcript of the interview did the controversy begin.

Democrats jumped on McCain’s statements, pointing to a briefing from Col. MacFarland in Iraq from September 2006—months before the January 2007 troop surge—indicating that an awakening had commenced.

McCain opponents have also called McCain’s surge statement just the most recent in a number of gaffes: on several occasions, McCain has called the Czech Republic the no-longer-existent “Czechoslovakia,” and on his trip abroad he mixed up Sunni and Shiite, for example.

Then on July 24, McCain defended his remarks saying, “A surge is really a counterinsurgency made up of a number of components. … I’m not sure people understand that ‘surge’ is part of a counterinsurgency.”

Many analysts, including the National Security Network’s Shawn Brimley, contend that “the surge” can mean only the 2007 deployments. Brimley called McCain’s comments a “misguided attempt to score political points.”

But in The Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove writes that Democrats are missing the bigger picture, which is that Obama won’t admit that the 2007 surge has been successful.

Headline Links: McCain defends statements

Video: Keith Olbermann on McCain’s timeline

Opinion & Analysis: McCain’s controversial words

Attacking McCain’s statements
In defense of McCain’s words; critiques of Obama

Reference: Col. MacFarland’s briefing

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