Senator John McCain, R-Arizona
(CNN) - Normally VIP visits to Iraq are kept under wraps, at least until the day of the trip. But Senator John McCain Friday night said he’s going to Iraq next week.
Responding to a question in Chicago about whether the Iraq strategy can succeed, the Republican presidential candidate said, “I understand the sorrow of the American people. I visit the wounded quite often at Walter Reed and Bethesda. I’m going to Iraq on Monday. And I’m going to be proud. I would rather spend the 4th of July with the men and women in Iraq than anywhere else in the world.”
McCain told reporters, “I’ll be at a re-enlistment ceremony for a large number of them who have decided while in combat to re-enlist because they believe in the mission. And they believe what they’re doing. And they believe the consequences of failure can be catastrophic.”
This will be McCain’s sixth trip to Iraq.
He was last there in April, shortly before he officially announced his candidacy, and came under criticism for comments on progress he said he saw in Baghdad. After a visit to an outdoor market under heavy military protection, McCain said, “I've been here many times over the years. Never have I been able to drive from the airport. Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today." He later said he regretted the comments, telling CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future.”
– CNN's Jamie Crawford and Steve Brusk