Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. John McCain said Sunday it was a mistake to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq, but would not back comments from GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry about sending American servicemen back to the country.
In response to a statement by Perry during a primary debate Saturday, McCain told CNN, "the moment and window of opportunity [to keep troops in Iraq] has now been closed."
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McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, endorsed rival candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday, and campaigned for the former Massachusetts governor in South Carolina and New Hampshire later in the week.
At the ABC News GOP debate Saturday, Perry said he would "send troops back into Iraq."
"I think we start talking with the Iraqi individuals there, the idea that we allow the Iranians to come back in to Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasure, both in blood and money that we have spent in Iraq, because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal leftist base," the Texas governor said.
Reacting to Perry's comments Sunday, McCain said it is too late to go back into the country, but he added the departure was a mistake in the first place.
"The level of violence is increasing and basically their government is not functioning and we are seeing a significant increase in Iranian influence in the country," the Arizona senator said. "So there is a very serious situation which could have been avoided if we had kept a residual force of some 20,000 people there - which the president refused to seriously negotiate about."
The status of the U.S. forces agreement with Iraq, originally negotiated under former President George W. Bush, set a deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal by December 31, 2011.
A recent CNN/ORC poll showed that nearly eight in 10 Americans support ending the war in Iraq. Seventy-eight percent of adults surveyed were in favor of removing all U.S. combat troops, while 21% said troops should remain.
McCain, who serves as ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said America should have kept a residual force in Iraq because not having troops in the country "does pose a greater threat to the security of the American civilians."
wasn't Rick Perry that verbally attacked President Obama for not having a PARADE for the vets returning from Iraq? Well if he was presidnet then he would reward them by sending them RIGHT BACK OVER THERE!! What a lunatick. I have always liked and respected John McCain but it has always perplexed me after what he went through why he is such a warhawk. You would think if anything he would not want ANY American to possibly have to needlessly fight and suffer like he had done.
needless war created huge deficit, and weather changes on earth. Idiot Bush did this. Enough of this nonsense. I saw trees flowering in January. Environmental change. No new Homes, we have enough. Do not cut trees. Keep the Globe cool place to live. o.k, GOP idiots mess. Enough.
Perry may be out of touch with reality, but, unlike Mittens, he actually stands for something, albeit crazy.
We are already being bombarded with Mittens political lies in Florida. He is going to buy the nomination.
RICK PERRY's STATEMENT ABOUT SENDING U.S. TROOPS BACK TO IRAQ IS STUPID
I don't always agree with John McCain, but on this matter he is correct.
I am shocked that any politician would even consider returning to Iraq. Perry is more proof that a Republican candidate will say anything when running for office. And this campaign season the field of Tea Party Republican candidates is pathetically worst.
The US was never going to "WIN" in Iraq. There will not be an end to the strife in the middle east in my lifetime. No point in interfering again until world peace is at stake. Both Perry and McCain are wrong, but that's nothing new!
McCain is a disgrace. I'm embarrassed he served in the same branch as me.
Perry probably wants to send troops back into Vietnam and Crusaders back into the Middle East.
Let's face it, they were kicked out of Iraq, the Iraq's wouldn't grant immunity to the American soldiers if something went wrong...so, I agree with the President, get them out of there....if you aren't wanted, get out....
That window should never have been opened. Saddam kept Iran under control. But W had to go get saddam because "he wanted to kill my daddy".
Now look at all the hell that has been sent upon the American citizens because W was and is an idiot with no foresight whatsoever. He needs to be tried and imprisoned for war crimes.
Republicans wish “No food stamp for Americans but Americans foot stamp all over world”