(CNN) – Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, told reporters Monday that the Bush administration’s surge strategy in Iraq is succeeding and, at the same time, recognized the 4000 Americans who have died in Iraq since 2003.
“Gen. Petraeus is correct when he says that the central battleground in the struggle against al Qaeda is Iraq and Osama bin Laden just confirmed that again with his comments last week,” McCain told reporters, referring to a recent statement by bin Laden that called Iraq “the perfect base to set up the jihad to liberate Palestine.”
“I have commented on hundreds of occasions of the sacrifice the great and brave young Americans have made in Iraq and elsewhere in the world in the struggle against radical Islamic extremism,” said McCain. “I wear a bracelet on my hand, not only as a symbol of the sacrifice that a brave young man named Matthew Stanley, but that of 4000 other brave young Americans who have served and sacrificed as well. My thoughts and my prayers go out to those families every day,” McCain added.
The Arizona senator also took the opportunity to target Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over their views on the Iraq war. “It is obvious that they are dead wrong and they are wrong when they say that we should leave Iraq immediately,” he said. “The surge is succeeding and it’s time that they acknowledge that the surge is succeeding,” he added.
On Monday, Sen. Clinton mentioned the 4000th U.S. fatality in Iraq at the beginning of an economic speech and Sen. Obama released a statement regarding the milestone.
Related video: Watch Sen. McCain's comments on Iraq
– CNN’s Tasha Diakides and Martina Stewart