‘It's Called Al Qaeda in Iraq’

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If you want to know what voters in Battleground States are likely to hear over the next eight months, look no further than the exchange that John McCain and Barack Obama had Wednesday.

One day after Obama handled Hillary Clinton's debate barbs with ease, the Democratic frontrunner came under fire from the presumptive GOP nominee for saying Tuesday that after withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, he would reserve the right to send them back if Al Qaeda formed a base which threatened the U.S. or its interests. LINK

"I am not embarrassed to tell you that I did not watch the Democrat debate last night," said McCain at the beginning of a town hall meeting in Tyler, Texas.

"But I am told that Sen. Obama made the statement that if Al Qaeda came back to Iraq after he withdraws, after American troops are withdrawn, then he would send military troops back if Al Qaeda established a base in Iraq."

McCain paused for a moment -- then he poured on the sarcasm.

"I have some news," he said. "Al Qaeda is in Iraq! It's called Al Qaeda in Iraq." "If we left," he continued, "they wouldn't be establishing a base. They wouldn't be establishing a base, they'd be taking a country. And I am not going to let that happen, my friends."

McCain's assault on Obama -- which he did three times on Wednesday -- showed that he will look for every opportunity to sow doubts about the experience of a freshman senator who, by his own admission, has not convened a single substantive hearing of the Foreign Relations subcommittee he chairs. LINK

Watch McCain's comment HERE.

While McCain's comments showed us how he plans to go after security moms (and dads) during the general election in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, Obama's counterpunch was also instructive: he's not afraid to hit back and in contrast to both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, he can do so without having to simultaneously explain a 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

He also can maintain that while he wants a prompt withdrawal of most U.S. troops, he has consistently favored a residual force (whether in- or out-of-country) to combat Al Qaeda.

Obama offered his "news" to McCain while campaigning in Columbus, Ohio.

"Well, first of all, I DO know that al Qaeda is in Iraq, that's why I've said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets," said Obama. "But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq!"

"I've got some news for John McCain: he took us into war along with George Bush that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged."

"I've been paying attention, John McCain!" Obama continued. "That's the news. So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell but so far all he's done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that's cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars."

"I intend to bring [it] to an end so that we can actually start going after al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in the hills of Pakistan like we should have been doing in the first place! That's the news John McCain!" said Obama.

Watch Obama's comments here: LINK

Thursday, February 28, 2008

On the campaign front…

HILLARY CLINTON --1:00 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Hanging Rock, OH

--7:00 pm ET: Delivers remarks to the Greater Houston Partnership Conference, Houston, TX

--10:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Houston, TX

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