McCain Hits Obama Again

Republican front-runner assails Illinois senator; wins evangelical endorsement.

ByABC News
February 27, 2008, 5:40 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 27, 2008 — -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., continued to attack Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., today for suggesting during a Democratic debate that after withdrawing combat troops from Iraq, Obama, as commander in chief, would be willing to send U.S. troops back into Iraq "if al Qaeda is forming a base" there.

"The fact is, al Qaeda is in Iraq," McCain said. "Al Qaeda is in Iraq today. If we left Iraq there's no doubt that al Qaeda would then gain control in Iraq and pose a threat to the United States of America. Ask anyone who knows about the situation on the ground in Iraq. I look forward to continuing this debate."

The remarks constituted the third time in one day that McCain had assailed the Democratic front-runner for his comment, in what seemed a preview of the general election matchup.

McCain started the day in Tyler, Texas, assailing Obama for his comments, then repeated the charge at a town hall meeting in San Antonio at the offices of USAA Insurance.

"I guess that means that [Obama] would surrender and then go back," McCain said.

Watch McCain's comments today HERE.

During last night's debate, Obama responded to a hypothetical question by moderator Tim Russert about whether he would go back into Iraq after withdrawing a sizable number of troops to quell insurrection or civil war.

As part of his answer, Obama responded, "As commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."

Obama responded to McCain's comments today at a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

"Well, first of all, I do know that al Qaeda is in Iraq. That's why I've said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets," he said. "But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.