TRANSCRIPT: McCain: Obama's Plan Could 'Reverse' Iraq Progress

The following is a transcript of a taped interview between Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and ABC News' David Wright.

Watch part of ABC's interview with McCain tonight on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson at 6:30 pm ET.

WRIGHT: Senator, I want to start by asking you about an extraordinary statement you just made in that town hall meeting, something you also said in New Hampshire yesterday, talking about how you would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war, but then you go on to say, "It seems to me that Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign."


That's pretty strong language. Do you really think he's that craven?

MCCAIN: I think that it's very clear that Senator Obama has refused to recognize that the strategy in Iraq called the surge has succeeded and that America has succeeded in Iraq and will come home with victory and with honor. If he would've had his way, they'd have been out last March. And the fact is...

WRIGHT: So you what you're essentially saying there is that it's all about personal ambition for him, and not about what he honestly thinks is right for the country?

MCCAIN: I do not believe that any objective observer can conclude that the surge did not work and is not succeeding. It's not possible. The facts on the ground are very clear.

And the future of young Americans are at stake here, because if we do what he wants to do -- and that's withdraw, which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on a certain date, has said is very dangerous -- and even, in Senator Obama's own admission, we could have to go back, then that's dangerous for the future of America. And he should know better if he wants to be commander in chief and certainly behave differently, as far as this -- our presence and our strategy in Iraq.

It has succeeded. And it is -- and we are winning this war. And we will come home with victory and with honor.

WRIGHT: But it sometimes seems, as an outside observer, that both of you guys sometimes get stuck in the past, Senator Obama kind of stuck in 2003 and whether the war was a good idea in the first place, and you kind of seem stuck sometimes in 2007, whether the surge was the right strategy. Shouldn't this debate really be about the future and where we go from here?

MCCAIN: Oh, you're exactly right. And Senator Obama still wants to set a date for withdrawal. And he still -- regardless of conditions on the ground, which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has [inaudible] very dangerous.

General Petraeus, who has been in charge of this incredible, incredible reversal of fortunes in Iraq, has said that it would be a dangerous course. So it is about the future. It's about...

MCCAIN: It is very much about the fact whether we come home with victory and honor and not have to go back or whether we pursue the dangerous course as described by the observers, and fail, and have to go back again. So it's all about the future. And the future, in my view, we have succeeded, but it's still fragile. Senator Obama's policy...

MCCAIN: ... could easily reverse -- could easily reverse all the hard-fought gains we made.

WRIGHT: Prime Minister Maliki seems to be asking for a timetable and other members, senior members of his government saying that there should be no permanent or indefinite U.S. bases, both ideas pillars of your strategy. Is it time for you to recalibrate?

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