McCain Fights a Chill in Aspen

Aug 14, 2008 9:12pm

ABC News’ Ron Claiborne Reports: Campaigning in Colorado, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, once again accused of Sen. Barack Obama D-Illinois of having taken positions against the Iraq war to advance his personal political ambitions.

"I think he used the issue of Iraq for political reasons to get the nomination of his party," McCain said.

McCain appeared at the Aspen Institute where he took a wide range of questions from Walter Isaacson, president of the institute and former CNN chairman for about an hour and then from members of the audience. A man who said he was from Tucson and had voted for McCain when he last ran for re-election said he was bothered by what he said were McCain’s "flip-flops" on some positions.

"I’m somewhat concerned that you flipped on some … maverick positions," he said. He went on to ask McCain to also clarify what he meant when he said last month that Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." "I heard that as you calling him a traitor," the man said. "Do you think Barack Obama is a traitor and do you still believe that he would rather lose a war to win an election? And, if you do, what makes you say that?"

McCain seemed asked him to specify on which issues he believed he had changed positions. The questioner mentioned taxes and McCain’s reconciliation with leaders of the Christian Right.

McCain defended his position on tax cuts — he voted twice against Bush tax cuts — saying he did not support them because they were not balanced by spending cuts. He said he met a few years ago with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who along with evangelist Pat Robertson he once called "agents of intolerance," in the spirit of reconciliation.

He finally turned to the question about Obama. "Sen. Obama said the surge wouldn’t work, that it would fail" McCain said. "He voted to cut off funding for the men and women who were serving in Iraq. He refused to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded. He announced after not being there (Iraq) for 900 days, he announced his policy on Iraq before he left (to visit Iraq in July). I think he’s wrong."

Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said this in response: "While Sen. Obama is focused on ending the war in Iraq responsibly in line with the wishes of the Iraqi government, Sen. McCain would rather repeat a disgraceful and tired political attack that represents exactly the kind of divisive Bush politics that has done nothing to secure America.”

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