John McCain, bless his heart, opened his mouth this morning and let a little too much of his real opinion slip out. Here’s what happened, courtesy of The LA Times:
In a TV interview this morning on NBC’s “Today” show, McCain was asked whether he could estimate when U.S. troops could leave post-surge Iraq. “No, but that’s not too important,” McCain said.
The Dems have jumped on this with glee, as well they should. I have a lot of friends in Iraq and I can tell you that to me, and to their families, it’s pretty damn important. I am not, by far, the only blogger to recognize this quote for the gaffe it is. Check out these links for some discussion:
How much traction will this comment get? Major Dem leaders, like Harry Reid and Joe Biden, have already issued statements:
Harry Reid: “”McCain’s statement today that withdrawing troops doesn’t matter is a crystal-clear indicator that he just doesn’t get the grave national-security consequences of staying the course -– Osama bin Laden is freely plotting attacks, our efforts in Afghanistan are undermanned, and our military readiness has been dangerously diminished. We need a smart change in strategy to make America more secure, not a commitment to indefinitely keep our troops in an intractable civil war.”
Joe Biden: ” “I think many of our brave soldiers and their families would disagree that it’s ‘not too important’ when they come home. Knowing when our troops can come home from Iraq is vitally important, because the costs of staying with 140,000 or more troops are getting steeper every day. … It is long past time to refocus our foreign policy on the many challenges we face, not just Iraq. Like President Bush, Sen. McCain cannot tell the American people when, or even if, Iraqis will come together politically — which was [the] purpose of the surge in the first place. He can’t tell us when, or even if, we will draw down below pre-surge levels. He can’t tell us when, or even if, Iraq will be able to stand on its own two feet. He can’t tell us when, or even if, this war will end.”
The Obama camp, in the persons of John Kerry and Susan Rice, has also hit back.
It is unclear whether the Dems will be able to play this one as long as they have played the 100 years comment, but it obvioulsy has legs right now and probably for a couple of cycles to come. I imagine that we’ll hear it recycled in speeches, with the 100 years remark, for the entirety of the campaign, as long as it continues to play to the anti-war crowd. And it will.