(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
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Clinton campaign adviser James Carville said Monday that he stood behind his controversial weekend comment that compared Bill Richardson's decision to back Barack Obama to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas – a statement the New Mexico governor termed "gutter tactics."
"He quoted me accurately and in context," Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign manager told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's The Situation Room. "I think the statement had the desired effect. It was what I said."
Carville, a former Clinton White House adviser told the New York Times Saturday that Richardson's endorsement "came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic."
On Monday, Carville said he hadn't spoken with Hillary Clinton about Richardson's endorsement, but that he was outraged by the development, given the New Mexico governor's history with both the New York senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Richardson served in two different cabinet positions under President Clinton, and watched this year's Super Bowl with him.
Carville's latest comments came hours after Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reporters that he would not have made the remark, and would have apologized for it.
But Carville, a CNN commentator, was unapologetic, telling CNN he knew the impact his words would have. "I doubt if Governor Richardson and I will be terribly close in the future," he said, but "I've had my say....I got one in the wheelhouse and I tagged him."
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
Related: Watch the entire Carville interview.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
Washington Post: Clinton Unveils Plan to Ease Housing Crisis
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sought on Monday to pitch herself as the remedy to the nation's housing crisis, a claim that drew an aggressive pushback from Sen. Barack Obama's campaign as the two candidates continued to wrestle for the upper hand on the issue of the economy.
NY Times: Obama’s Test: Can a Liberal Be a Unifier?
At the core of Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is a promise that he can transcend the starkly red-and-blue politics of the last 15 years, end the partisan and ideological wars and build a new governing majority. To achieve the change the country wants, he says, “we need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington and bring Democrats, independents and Republicans together to get things done.” But this promise leads, inevitably, to a question: Can such a majority be built and led by Mr. Obama, whose voting record was, by one ranking, the most liberal in the Senate last year?
USA Today: Worried Dems wish for 'dream team'
What are the odds Democrats will field a "dream team ticket" with Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton combining forces?
AP: McCain Says U.S. Succeeding In Iraq
Fresh off his eighth Iraq visit, Sen. John McCain declared Monday that "we are succeeding" and said he wouldn't change course — even as the U.S. death toll rose to 4,000 and the war entered its sixth year.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman, CNN Washington Bureau
*Hillary Clinton attends a town hall meeting in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
*John McCain participates in an Orange County small business roundtable in Santa Ana, California.
*Barack Obama has no public events.
Campaign surrogates are accusing their rivals of biblical betrayal, and a communist witch hunt. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Jim Acosta reports on the escalating fight from the sidelines.
While the Democrats slug it out, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain is trying to regain his fundraising footing. CNN’s Dana Bash reports from the campaign trail in California.
From overseas, a grim new milestone brought Iraq back to the forefront. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider takes a look at how the rising U.S. death toll in Iraq is affecting candidates on the campaign trail.
But the troubled economy still dominates voter concerns. Mary Snow highlights the Democrats’ economic pitches.
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–CNN’s Emily Sherman and Jillian Harding