ABC News’ Jennifer Duck Reports: Sen. John McCain used some of his strongest words yet comparing his judgment to his opponent’s saying Sen Barack Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.”
“This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say that I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Sen. Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign,” McCain said in Rochester, New Hampshire today around the same time Sen. Obama was speaking with reporters overseas.
McCain continued to attack his Democratic opponent on the surge.
“He was wrong then, he’s wrong now, and he still fails to acknowledge–he still fails to acknowledge that the surge succeeded. Remarkable. Remarkable,” McCain said. “He’s just received his first briefing ever from Gen. Petraeus. And he declared his policy towards Iraq before he left, before he left.”
Obama was asked during a press conference in Amman, Jordan if voters should give McCain credit for his support for the surge.
“I will leave it to the voters to make that decision. And, you know, my hope is to avoid a colloquy with the McCain campaign over the next four or five days,” Obama responded.
“I think that Senator McCain deserves great credit for caring deeply about the safety and security of the American people," Obama added. "And I think he’s made a series of decisions based on his best judgment of what would be good for American safety and security. I’ve differed with him on a range of those judgments. But I think that in each instance he’s made those decisions based on what he thinks makes the most sense.”
Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M, told reporters on a conference call that Obama is “frighteningly inexperienced” when it comes to foreign affairs and national security policy. Wilson also said McCain would like to have troops out earlier than the 16 month time frame Obama has proposed.
"He would like troops to come home earlier than 16 months if the conditions allow it," Wilson, who is a surrogate for McCain, said on the call. "Senator Obama has said it’s a 16 month timeline no matter what."
McCain was later asked if he agrees with Wilson.
“I think that they can be home dependent on conditions on the ground,” McCain told a small group of reporters. “The surge has succeeded. It has succeeded. We are winning the war. If we’d have done what Senator Obama wanted we’d have lost.”
McCain regularly holds town hall style speeches across the country and today one anti-war New Hampshire resident caused a McCain-friendly crowd to boo as she asked three questions about the invasion of Iraq. McCain calmed the crowd admitting those questions are on many Americans minds.
The Arizona Republican admitted the first four years of the war were “badly mishandled” but continued support for a conditioned based withdraw.
“Everybody recognizes, including Prime Minister Maliki, that we have to have conditions based withdraw. And we’re going to withdraw. We will withdraw. The fact is whether we withdraw in victory or whether we withdraw in defeat,” McCain said. “We have succeeded. Sadr City is safe, Mosul is safe, Basra safe. The people of Iraq—and I have been there—are leading normal lives.”
McCain said, “there will continue to be spectacular attacks” adding Al Qaeda has not been “completely defeated” but they have been “set back enormously” because of the surge strategy.
ABC News’ Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.