(CNN) - John McCain Thursday continued his attacks on Barack Obama over the issue of Iraq, saying the Illinois senator isn't focused on how victory can be achieved there.
"Yesterday Senator Obama said, 'Well we shouldn't have gone in in the first place. If we hadn't gone in the first place we wouldn’t be facing this problem.' " McCain said at a town hall event in Houston, Texas. "Well that's history. That's the past. That's talking about what happened before. What we should be talking about is what we're going to do now."
McCain's comments follow a back-and-forth between the two candidates on Wednesday over Obama's remarks at a recent debate regarding what he would do if al Qaeda establishes a presence in Iraq after American troops left.
"I always reserve the right for the president ... to make sure that we are looking out for American interests," Obama said during Tuesday's debate. "And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."
McCain criticized Obama for the remarks, saying "It's a remarkable statement to say that you would send troops back to a place where al Qaeda has established a base - where they have already established a base."
Obama quickly hit back, declaring, "There was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq."
– CNN's Carol Cratty and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report