DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. John McCain continued to voice strong support for Gen. David Petraeus Wednesday, saying he is "respected and admired by literally everybody that serves under him." As for Sen. Hillary Clinton, well, he had other thoughts on his mind.
At a campaign stop in Des Moines, the Arizona Republican said the general is an "honorable and decent man who spent his entire life in the service of his nation."
But McCain, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, chose different words to describe Clinton, a New York Democrat who is seeking her party's presidential nomination.
"Senator Clinton said that General Petraeus in his presentation was... I quote a 'willing suspension of disbelief," McCain said. "First of all, it's a willing suspension of disbelief that Senator Clinton thinks she knows more than General Petraeus does about events on the ground in Iraq."
The Arizona senator also issued a sharply worded statement directed at Clinton for not renouncing a critical print ad of Petraeus that was paid for by the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org.
"Senator Clinton said that believing General Petraeus' testimony requires a 'willing suspension of disbelief,'" McCain said in the statement released by his campaign. "I think it willingly suspends disbelief to not repudiate an advertisement run by a radical left wing organization that impugns and dishonors the integrity of a man who has served his nation with dedication all of his life."
The full page was published in Monday’s edition of the New York Times and showed a picture of Petraeus with the caption "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"
McCain's criticism of Clinton is not surprising as he entered his second day of his "No Surrender" tour. "We should not choose to lose in Iraq," McCain said in Iowa. "We cannot set a date for surrender, which would be a date for withdrawal from Iraq."
- CNN's Chris Welch in Iowa and CNN's Xuan Thai in Washington