Arizona Sen. John McCain was "glad" that President Bush visited Iraq on Labor Day
NEOLA, Iowa (CNN) - Speaking with reporters at a parade in Iowa on Monday, Republican presidential candidate John McCain reiterated his belief that the current strategy in Iraq is working, saying that to withdraw is to surrender.
"I will fight against a date for surrender," said the Arizona senator. "I will fight against what the Democrats are trying to do. And I think it will be a seminal debate that will determine the history of this country for the rest of this century, because if we set a date for withdrawal we will see chaos, we will see genocide, and they will follow us home."
McCain continued, "To set a date for withdrawal is to set a date for surrender."
He stressed that he never said the road wouldn't be long and hard, but said things are "much tougher because of [former Secretary of Defense] Rumsfeld's absolute strategic failures."
Regarding an upcoming progress report set to be released by General David Petraeus in mid-September McCain said, "We will have a great debate on the floor of the Senate. I will be leading the Republicans because I'm the ranking Republican, [the] senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee. I will fight to let this strategy continue to succeed."
One of the big stories of the day: President Bush's surprise visit to Iraq. McCain said he was "glad" to see him make the trip.
"Six months ago, it would not have been possible for him to go to that part of Iraq," said McCain. "It was a free-fire zone, and now Anbar province is one of the most stable parts of Iraq, thanks to the success of this strategy."
"I am fully aware that this may cost me politically. It's far more important to me that we convince a significant number of the American people that this strategy is succeeding."
–CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch