Tuesday, July 22, 2008

McCain Campaign Conference Call On Barack Obama's Iraq Trip

"I was skeptical about the surge at that point and time. And he said this is what we've got to do and we did it and thank goodness for John McCain because we won. I was wrong on the surge. Thankfully, John prevailed in this and because John McCain prevailed on this we are looking at a situation where we can substantially draw down troops in Iraq today instead of defeat." Senator Sam Brownback

Today, U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign held a press conference call with Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Randy Scheunemann, McCain 2008 senior foreign policy adviser, to discuss Barack Obama's Iraq trip:

Senator Sam Brownback: "Number one, as I said earlier, thank goodness for John McCain and his tenacity and his knowledge and wisdom on calling for this surge on pushing the Bush Administration for this surge. I mean this is, you may recall from earlier, the McCain surge. It was called that derisively early on when people were really questioning the wisdom and the judgment of it.

"I think what you are seeing here are the results of somebody that's knowledgeable about the military that's ready to be commander-in-chief. He knew that we didn't have enough troops in the theater. He knew if we would show confidence and stay in power that we could and would win. And he had been through the Vietnam experience. He wasn't about to get involved in something that wasn't moving toward success. So he stood there in the face of all on comers, including myself. I was skeptical about the surge at that point and time. And he said this is what we've got to do and we did it and thank goodness for John McCain because we won. I was wrong on the surge. Thankfully, John prevailed in this and because John McCain prevailed on this we are looking at a situation where we can substantially draw down troops in Iraq today instead of defeat.

"If we had stayed on the Obama strategy, you would be staring at a wholly different situation in Iraq today. You'd be looking probably at heightened violence, a segmented country being run by different groups, and an expanded terrorist base in all likelihood. We don't know any of that for certain, but we do know for certain that the surge has worked and it's because of the surge that we are in the situation that we are today. I believe it would be right for Senator Obama to simply say look I was wrong the surge has worked, the surge had produced these results. That's how you then learn from past experiences on it rather than to deny the surge's success.

"So I think you've got a clear dichotomy here, and you've got probably the best example you could possibly see on two different commanders-in-chief, and John McCain and Barrack Obama, and how they would have handled a really difficult situation. And the one produced success and the surge and the other would have in all likelihood produced massive failure and expansion of terrorism globally. You've got the best real life example possible here.

"Final point, there's two things that the president does alone. The president is commander-in-chief and the president does foreign policy. Most other things the president does with Congress or with other groups, but those two specifically given to the president. John McCain has shown and demonstrated in the most difficult of circumstances, both personally in his own life and as a policy maker and a statesman, his ability to lead troops as commander and chief and his ability to conduct foreign policy. I don't think you are seeing near that and I think you're seeing support for failed policies the way Barack Obama has shown he would lead."


Representative Heather Wilson: "I think there are a couple of things that are important to remember today. One is that Senator Obama has shown a complete inability to acknowledge that the surge worked. Last night on television, he said that he would not have -- even in hindsight -- he wouldn't have changed the way he voted, which was against the surge and even against funding of the troops in harm's way, which led to the success that we've had today. So he would have chosen failure over success, even looking in hindsight. And I find that completely perplexing.

"The second thing I think is important to remember is that he is being driven by the calendar and not by the conditions on the ground. It's interesting that, as we've been successful in Iraq in eradicating Al Qaeda in Iraq and calming the violence, it's become possible to look at reduced force levels. And John McCain has always said, against the opinion of public opinion and also, in some cases, against the opinion of his own president of his own party, that we need to be successful, irrespective of the calendar, and he'd like troops to come home earlier than 16 months, if the conditions allow it.

"Senator Obama has said it's a 16-month timeline no matter what. And he's apparently today muddied his position somewhat on this. But we never -- I think the important thing here is -- we never would have gotten to this situation if Senator Obama had his way, because he would have withdrawn from Iraq and left it in a mess."


Randy Scheunemann: "I want to comment on some of the statements Senator Obama has made, both in televised interviews, as well as in his press conference. Senator Obama said he and General Petraeus occupy different roles. That is certainly true. Senator Obama is a candidate for president, and General Petraeus led one of the most amazing military campaigns in American history.

"General Petraeus knows what led to the successes to date. And the policy, strategy, and force levels that led to those successes were opposed by Senator Obama. He voted against them; he predicted they would fail, even as they were succeeding."


"Senator Obama said that completely deferring to whatever the commanders on the ground say would mean, 'I am not doing my job as commander-in-chief. I am rubber-stamping decisions made on the ground.' This is really an amazing statement. He believes that deferring to the commanders on the ground is not the job of the commander-in-chief. He believes that deferring to the best military judgment of commanders is rubber-stamping. He refuses to credit General Petraeus and General Odierno for their leadership. He disparages their strategic judgment and trumpets his own.

"What is Senator Obama's judgment based on? He predicted the surge would increase violence. He was wrong. He voted to cut off funds for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was wrong. Now he wants to supplant his judgment for successful military commanders."


"The reality is that Senator Obama's judgment on the most important national security question facing our country in 2007 was wrong. And it demonstrates both his inexperience and his ideological rigidity."


"Senator Obama used to say U.S. forces were babysitting a civil war. Now he argues Sunni and Shia leaders would have made the same decisions over the last 18 months if the security situation was as bad as it was at the end of 2006. Earlier this year in January, he said, 'I would point out that much of the violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province, Sunni tribes, who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know, that the Americans were leaving soon. That's how you change behavior.' This is 100 percent wrong. First, he re-wrote his Web site to purge his criticism of the surge. Now, he's trying to re-write history. It is nothing short of fantasy to dream that the election of a Democratic Congress led to progress in Anbar.

"In late 2006, the situation in Anbar was bleak. In fact, there was a front-page Washington Post story based on a leaked Marine Corps intelligence memo that gathered wide attention at the time. That memo reportedly said, 'Most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability. Between Al Qaida's violence, Iran's influence, and the expected U.S. drawdown, the social and political situation has deteriorated to such a point that U.S. and Iraqi forces are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in Anbar.'

"That was in November 2006. Then the surge came. The surge first focused in Anbar, and the success there enabled Iraqi and U.S. forces to move on to other parts of the country. Senator Obama said today that Shia militias stood down. They didn't stand down. They were beaten down. They were beaten down by American and Iraqi forces.

"Senator Obama will not credit generals; he will not credit the strategy that works. And he consistently demonstrates his core judgment and his inflexibility in the face of clear facts on the ground."

Listen To The Full Conference Call.

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