CHULA VISTA, CALIF –
ABC News’s Bret Hovell Reports: John McCain returned to the campaign trail from his weeklong trip to Europe and the Middle East Monday talking about successes in Iraq, and the need to stay the course there.
He cited the recent release of a tape by Osama bin Laden as proof that Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism. That’s a contention McCain, R-Ariz., has been making for weeks on the stump, often quoting General David Petraeus, the leader of multinational forces in Iraq, who has expressed the same view.
"General Petraeus and I and Osama bin Laden are in agreement," McCain said speaking with reporters after a town hall-style meeting at a VFW post a few miles south of San Diego.
"It is hard to understand why Senator Clinton and Senator Obama do not understand that," McCain continued. "I don’t know if it is naiveté or what the problem is, but it’s obvious that they are dead wrong and they are wrong when they say we should leave Iraq immediately."
McCain’s remarks come on his first day campaigning since an overseas trip which took him to Iraq, Jordan, Israel, the United Kingdom and France. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, reiterated repeatedly that he took the trip in his role as the ranking member of the Senate armed services committee, but there is no question that what he saw in Iraq is directly tied to his fortunes as a presidential candidate.
"The surge is succeeding and it’s time that [the Democrats] acknowledged that the surge is succeeding," McCain said Monday. "The benefits of success in Iraq will spread through the Middle East, including a stable society, a stable government, a bastion of Democracy, flawed but functioning."