McCain sounds Clintonian in attack on Romney
Senator John McCain stepped up his attacks on his Republican rival Mitt Romney on Saturday, accusing him of once wanting to withdraw from Iraq and likening him to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in his approach to the conflict.This is not straight talk. It is not even honest.
In response, Mr. Romney lashed back, saying Mr. McCain was being “dishonest,” and demanded that he apologize.
Mr. McCain’s comments marked the second straight day of going on the offensive against Mr. Romney, and they came as polls showed the two men locked in a tight race in Florida, where the Republican primary will be held Tuesday.
“If we surrender and wave a white flag like Senator Clinton wants to do and withdraw as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos,” Mr. McCain said to reporters in Fort Myers on Saturday morning.
At a town-hall-style meeting later in Sun City Center, a retirement community, Mr. McCain reiterated his accusation.
“My friends, I was there — he said he wanted a timetable for withdrawal,” Mr. McCain said.
The charge appears to be misleading. The McCain campaign pointed to remarks Mr. Romney made last year in which he said he believed that President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq should have “a series of timetables and milestones” that they discussed among themselves but did not announce publicly.
But Mr. Romney has not called for setting a date for withdrawal. Mr. Romney has said he supports the president’s current strategy, although he has said he anticipates more and more American troops moving into a support role in Iraq in the next year — similar to what Gen. David H. Petraeus outlined in his testimony before Congress last year.
“I know he’s trying desperately to change the topic from the economy and trying to get back to Iraq, but to say something that’s not accurate is simply wrong,” Mr. Romney said Saturday. “He knows better.”
But in Sun City Center, Mr. McCain said he owed no apology to Mr. Romney. Instead, he said, it was Mr. Romney who should apologize “to the young men and women who are serving in uniform.”
There is no significant difference in the position of any of the GOP candidates other than Ron Paul on Iraq policy and McCain is over playing his hand on the subject. While McCain was an early proponent of sending more troops to Iraq he never suggested the counterinsurgency tactics that have helped turn the situation around. He was not involved in the decision making by President Bush to surge forces and change tactics though he did support it like Romney and Giuliani and Huckabee. They all want to win the war and to compare Romney's position to Hillary's is absurd. If you read the post on Fred Barnes story about the decision to surge forces in Iraq you want see John McCain's named mentioned. He deserves credit for supporting it but the attacks on Romney are unfair and misleading.