RAPID CITY, South Dakota (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama accused Republican John McCain Saturday of not owning up to what Obama calls his "mistake" - saying that the U.S. has drawn troops down to pre-surge levels in Iraq.
"We all misspeak sometimes," the Illinois senator told a crowd in Rapid City, South Dakota. "I've done it myself. So on such a basic, factual error, you'd think that John McCain would just say 'Oh, I misspoke, I made a mistake' and then move on. But he couldn't do that. Instead, he dug in."
Obama connected McCain's Iraq comments to President Bush's unwillingness to admit fault "when he was presented with facts that went against his views" on the war.
"Just like George Bush, John McCain is refusing to admit that he's made a mistake," the White House hopeful continued. "And that's exactly the kind of leadership that has got us fighting for five years in a war that should've never been authorized."
"We don't need more leaders who can't admit they've made a mistake, even about something as fundamental as how many Americans are serving in harm's way."
The McCain camp fired back with a statement from spokesman Tucker Bounds.
"Barack Obama is ignoring facts," Bounds wrote. "He irresponsibly refuses credible evidence on the ground proving American troops have surged toward significant gains in Iraq and it proves he is just not ready to be commander in chief.
"For over 874 days, which includes the entirety of the 'Surge' strategy, Barack Obama has refused to visit Iraq, see the conditions on the ground, and meet with General Petraeus, and it raises questions about whether his campaign is based on conceding defeat in Iraq, no matter what progress our troops make there."