McCain: Pulling Out of Iraq Would Spell 'Chaos'

March 28, 2007 — -- In a vote that surprised even the Democrats who won it, the U.S. Senate voted for the first time to begin the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., forcefully took to the Senate floor along with other Republicans against the withdrawal provision.

"This legislation is a plan for failure," he said.

On "Good Morning America," McCain added that the legislation would spell chaos for Iraq and, in turn, the United States.

"I know what will happen. The area will deteriorate into chaos and we will see them follow us home," he said.

He said that many parts of Iraq were calmer than they had been in the past, which showed that the United States was making progress.

"There are neighborhoods that are calm -- the Anbar province, the Sheiks are cooperating with us. Large parts of the country are under control," he said. "The Iraqi military are fighting side by side with us. Is it tough? Is it difficult? Of course, but significant progress is being made and that will become more clear."

On Tuesday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., supported McCain, saying the legislation would impede progress in Iraq.

"It would be the bugle of retreat. It would be echoed and repeated from every minaret throughout Iraq," he said on the Senate floor.

Democrats led the push for the withdrawal.

"This war is not worth the spilling of another drop of blood," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said to fellow senators.

Friends Trade Words on Senate Floor

Democrats won the vote, 50-48. The difference this week, as opposed to earlier in the month when a similar withdrawal provision failed, was two senators who had changed their positions on a timeline for troop withdrawal.

One of them was McCain's friend Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a Vietnam veteran who had endorsed McCain's presidential campaign seven years ago. Today Hagel is considering his own run for the presidency.

"We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam," Hagel said.

Hagel made clear the president's threat of a veto was irrelevant to his vote.

"We tried a monarchy once. It's not suited to America. There are separations of powers. Of course there are," he said.

McCain shot back at anyone who claimed Iraq was not worthy of U.S. involvement.

"They are wrong -- terribly, terribly, terribly wrong!" he said.

Hagel maintained that wanting to pull out of Iraq had nothing to do with supporting the troops.

"This idea that somehow you don't support the troops if you don't continue in a lemminglike way to accept whatever this administration's policy is, that's what's wrong," he said.

Presidential Ambitions Aside

The vote for the withdrawal is the latest bad news for McCain, who is tied to the Iraq War more than any other presidential candidate and who recently told ABC News he was having problems meeting his campaign fundraising goals.

On "GMA," though, McCain asserted that his political ambitions weren't clouding his feelings about Iraq.

"Any political ambition of mine pales in significance to the sacrifice that's already been made by these brave Americans," he said. "What I'm worried about is losing this war. Then they'll follow us home, and we'll have a lot more to worry about than politics."

He also dismissed the possibility that Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., or Barack Obama, D-Ill., could win the White House in 2008.

"I envision no scenario where we won't have a Republican president," he said. "I look in the mirror every morning and say that."