(CNN) - As the Senate holds major hearings on the war in Iraq, a set of dueling petitions – both featuring presumptive Republican nominee John McCain – are circulating online.
Shortly after his appearance at the Armed Services Committee hearing attended by Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, McCain sent supporters a fundraising appeal that asked them to sign their names to a petition “calling on Senators Clinton and Obama to support our troops on the ground and the mission they are carrying out.”
In the message, McCain said the Democratic candidates “will surely echo the sentiments of their extreme liberal supporters and call for a pre-emptive withdrawal from Iraq. The American people deserve better.
“I encourage both candidates to move beyond empty and destructive rhetoric and elevate the debate to a level that the country deserves. There are tough decisions ahead and America deserves leaders that are up to the challenge.”
Last week, former Army General Wesley Clark’s political action committee, WesPAC, and the anti-Iraq war group VoteVets launched a petition drive urging McCain to pledge his support to a new Iraq veterans benefits bill co-sponsored by Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel.
“Why … is John McCain silent on passing a new GI Bill for our ‘new greatest generation?’” read the appeal, which linked to a petition calling on “John McCain to do the right thing and co-sponsor the new GI Bill.”