"A Republican leadership strategy memo calls for an all-out attack on Democrats' 'misinformation' campaign against the Iraq war as both parties refocus on the issue ahead of next week's update from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq," S.A. Miller and Christopher Dolan report in the Washington Times. "The memo instructs Capitol Hill Republicans to court conservative bloggers on conference calls and talk-radio hosts -- including by holding a nationwide 'radio row' on April 9 -- to fend off Democrats' desire to 'ignore reality and insist on immediate retreat.' "
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, kicks off the effort Tuesday with a 9:30 am ET speech to the American Legion. "The war is winnable," Boehner plans to say, per excerpts provided by his office. "The success of the surge -- which Sen. McCain supported all along -- proves it. And the consequences of failure would be devastating."
And this: "I agree with the United States Senator who once said 'we shouldn't play chicken with our troops' when it comes to funding our troops in harm's way. I agree with the United States Senator who in January 2007 urged General Petraeus to request 'every possible piece of equipment and resource necessary' to keep our troops safe," Boehner will say. "Unfortunately, the former senator was Barack Obama. The latter was Hillary Clinton."
While McCain has a clear shot to deliver his message, it's not clear that it's being heard, at least not how he wants it to be. Consider the handful of times his voice has broken through in recent weeks -- when he seemed to confuse Sunni and Shiite groups, and with his now famous "100 years" remark -- and McCain has had something of a rough stretch, considering the circumstances.
Even on Monday, McCain "quickly veered off script to express surprise at the Iraqi government's crackdown on Shiite militias," AP's David Espo writes. "He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had acted without consultations with the United States, adding, 'I was surprised because I didn't think he'd do it yet.' "
Though he's repeatedly explained his reference to "100 years" referred to a possible continuing US troop presence in Iraq -- and not active war -- the fact that he's still explaining himself speaks to the political peril. "With that comment, McCain handed his Democratic opponents and war critics a weapon with which to bludgeon him all the way to Election Day in November," ABC's Ron Claiborne reports. "And it didn't take long for the bludgeoning to begin."
Obama has used the "100 years" comment as a regular attack line, and has gone perhaps a tad too far. "Obama deviated from McCain's comment on more than one occasion," ABC's Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib report.
Asked Monday if his comments amounted to the same kind of distorting politics he regularly decries, Obama replied: "No, no, no, no. I don't think. I don't think. I don't think it's unfair at all," said Obama (ignoring comments he made in Maine and elsewhere). "I mean we can run the YouTube spot."
(Does he really want to establish the YouTube standard for this campaign? Let's see what Jeremiah Wright and Deval Patrick are up to . . . )
Actually, we'd like to learn more about Wright -- but something's gone missing from his church's Website.