Sen John McCain just back from a swing state tour sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos in Cottonwood, Arizona to discuss the economy, gay adoption and McCain's apparent embrace of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Senator Obama was in London this morning, and he was responding to your comments from yesterday when you said that 16 months might be a pretty good timetable in Iraq.
He said, "We're pleased to see that there's been some convergence around proposals we've been making for a year-and-a-half."
SEN JOHN MCCAIN: That's really good. Look, it's not a timetable, as I said. I was asked, how does that sound? Anything sounds good to me, but...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you never used the word before.
MCCAIN: ... you know, the point is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You made a point of never using...
MCCAIN: ... I never...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... the word before.
MCCAIN: Look, I have always said, and I said then, it's the conditions on the ground. If Senator Obama had had his way, we'd have been out last March, and we'd been out in defeat and chaos, and probably had to come back again because of Iranian influence.
It's conditions on the ground -- the way that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, the way that General Petraeus has said -- conditions on the ground, so that the Iraqi government can have control, can have the sufficient security, so that we don't have to come back. Senator Obama said that if his date didn't work, we may have to come back.
We're not coming home in victory. We're coming home in victory.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it does seem...
MCCAIN: But it is a -- it is not a date. I want to make it very clear to you, it is not a date. It's conditions on the ground.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you shouldn't have used the word timetable.
MCCAIN: Pardon me?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You shouldn't have used the word timetable.
MCCAIN: I didn't use the word timetable. That I did -- if I did...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's a pretty good timetable.
MCCAIN: Oh, well, look. Anything is a good timetable that is dictated by conditions on the ground. Anything is good.
But the timetable is dictated, not by a artificial date, but by the conditions on the ground, the conditions of security.
And by the way, our ambassador to Iraq basically said we have succeeded. We have succeeded in this strategy.
Now, look. Senator Obama doesn't understand. He doesn't understand what's at stake here. And he chose to take a political path that would have helped him get the nomination of his party.
I took a path that I knew was unpopular, because I knew we had to win in Iraq. And we are winning in Iraq.
And if we'd done what Senator Obama wanted done, it would have been chaos, genocide, increased Iranian influence, perhaps al Qaeda establishing a base again.
Now we have a stable ally in the region, and it is not based on any date.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it does seem like...
MCCAIN: I like six months, three months, two months. I like yesterday. I like yesterday, OK? That seems really good to me. But the fact is, the conditions on the ground...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what's the difference between...
MCCAIN: ... have not dictated it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... your positions now? He says, OK, here's the timetable I want. That's the mission.