McCain Backs Away From ‘Timetable’ Remark

By Lee Speigel

Jul 27, 2008 2:50pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce reports: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., distanced himself this weekend from previously saying that Sen. Barack Obama’s, D-Ill., 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq would be "a pretty good timetable." In an exclusive "This Week" interview with George Stephanopoulos, McCain explained, "Look, it’s not a timetable, as I said. I was asked, ‘How does that sound?’ Anything sounds good to me … Anything is a good timetable that is dictated by conditions on the ground."

McCain went on to question his rival’s grasp of the situation in Iraq: “Now, look. Sen. Obama doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand what’s at stake here.

"Sen. Obama said that he would come out, no matter what.  He said that he would be out — according to his original plan, it would have been last March," McCain explained. "He says that the surge has not worked.  He said it couldn’t work.  He said it wasn’t working … How could any rational person see the change on the ground in the last two years and say that the surge hasn’t succeeded?"

McCain also defended saying earlier in the week that Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." When asked if he was challenging Obama’s honor and character, McCain explained, "I’m not questioning his patriotism. I’m questioning his actions." 

McCain offered his view of Obama’s motives. "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," McCain said. "And we are winning in Iraq. And if we’d done what Sen. 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.”

McCain also denied that Obama had been correct to initially oppose the war because it would inflame the Muslim world, opting to reiterate his initial claim that "we were greeted as liberators."

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