BEVERLY HILLS, California (CNN) – Before heading to a Los Angeles fundraiser Wednesday night, John McCain spoke to reporters about news that Barack Obama is considering a trip to Iraq. McCain said he is happy his likely Democratic opponent is mulling it over and believes Obama would change his tune after spending some time in the country.
“[I was] glad to hear that Senator Obama is now, quote, 'considering' a trip to Iraq,” said McCain. “It's long overdue. It's been 871 days since he was there and I'm confident that when he goes he will then change his position on the conflict in Iraq because he will see the success that has been achieved on the ground.”
Obama’s announcement follows days of McCain and his allies blasting Obama for not having visited Iraq recently. The Republican National Committee even went so far as to post a counter on their homepage displaying the number of days it has been since the Illinois senator’s last trip in January 2006.
“John McCain’s proposal is nothing more than a political stunt,” the Obama campaign told CNN Tuesday after McCain said he would be happy to accompany Obama on a trip to Iraq.
“More than 4,000 brave young Americans have given their lives,” McCain responded. “To say that my urging a person who wants to be president of the United States to go to Iraq for the first time in 871 days and see the situation for himself and to call that a publicity stunt is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gravity of this issue.”
McCain tiptoed around the news of the day, excerpts from former White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s forthcoming book that accuse the Bush administration of using propaganda to convince the American public war in Iraq was justified.
“I was not working in the White House,” said McCain, “so I don’t know, and I have not read the book so I cannot make an additional comment.”
McCain also avoided predicting how much President Bush would be seen campaigning for him leading up to November’s election. Bush attended a fundraiser for McCain on Tuesday night that was followed by a very brief photo-op, further fueling speculation that McCain is embracing the president’s ability to raise money but steering clear of being associated with his low approval ratings.
“I was glad that he was there, that’s all there is to it. There’s nothing more,” said McCain.