McCain: Obama Represents Politics of the Past

Republican front-runner hits Obama for focus on Iraq invasion and NAFTA.

ByABC News
February 28, 2008, 11:37 AM

Feb. 28, 2008 — -- In his back-and-forth with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., over Iraq, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Thursday morning sought to portray the Democratic front-runner as representing the Iraq politics of the past by focusing on the decision to invade in 2003 rather than what to do now.

"That's history, that's the past," McCain told attendees at a town hall meeting at Rice University. "That's talking about what happened before. What we should be talking about is what we're going to do now. And what we're going to do now is continue this strategy which is succeeding in Iraq and we are carrying out the goals of the surge, the Iraqi military are taking over more and more of the responsibilities."

It was an interesting claim from the man seeking to be the oldest American ever first elected president about a candidate 25 years his junior and is just the latest charge in what may be a preview of the general election.

McCain Wednesday criticized Obama for stating that as president, after withdrawing combat troops from Iraq, he might send troops back in "if al Qaeda is forming a base" there. Seeking to portray Obama as naïve and ill-informed on national security, McCain said, "I have some news al Qaeda is in Iraq. It's called: 'Al Qaeda in Iraq.'"

In Columbus, Ohio, that day, Obama said, "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."

McCain continued to debate this argument today at Rice University.

"So let me get this right," McCain said. "Senator Obama wants to leave immediately from Iraq, but if al Qaeda is in Iraq then he would consider going back. Obviously that's, that's not logical. In fact, we are succeeding in Iraq something that both he and Senator Clinton refuse to acknowledge."

McCain went on to list ways he says the surge strategy in Iraq is working. "The Iraqi military are taking over more and more of the responsibilities. The casualties are down, and we will be able to withdraw and come home but we will come home with honor."