John McCain, having apparently goaded Barack Obama into contemplating a visit to Iraq, isn't letting up on the assault.
McCain and the Republican National Committee have been bashing Obama for advocating a phased withdrawal, despite not having toured the war-torn country since January 2006. Wednesday night, Obama said he might visit this summer, but quashed an invitation for a joint visit with McCain.
This morning on MSNBC, Obama's communications director Robert Gibbs added, "I don't think we'll be taking that trip with John McCain because as Senator Obama said yesterday, the work that the men and women in our military are doing over there is just far too important for them to be props in some sort of political stunt or photo-op. You know, what they're doing over there is separated from their families, giving for their country. It's truly, truly amazing, and I think we would want to go over there and talk to them and see what sort of difficulties they're facing and see how it is that we can begin to carefully remove them and carefully bring them back to their families and bring them back to the United States."
That brought this response from McCain spokesman Brian Rogers: “It is disappointing that Senator Obama would travel to Iraq for the first time in over two years, and instead of listening and learning from our troops, he would insist upon an immediate withdrawal. The American people want a president and commander in chief who bases critical decisions on the facts, not ideology. Senator Obama’s willingness to deliberately ignore the facts on the ground reveals his flawed judgment, and reflects a position completely rooted in his ideology rather than reality. It’s unfortunate that Senator Obama continues to refuse to seek the facts but instead will go to Iraq, look our troops in the eye, and admit defeat. That’s not the kind of leadership we need today.”
While Obama pledges to withdraw combat troops, probably within 16 months of taking office, McCain is among the most vocal supporters of the so-called surge of troops and has talked about a long-term peacekeeping presence.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.