(PORTLAND, MAINE) – After taking heat over the weekend for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seemingly endorsing Barack Obama's plan for a timeline of withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the Iraqi P.M. is now backing off of those statements.
Al-Maliki was "misunderstood and mistranslated" and his comments were not "conveyed accurately," according to an Iraqi government spokesman.
Al-Maliki was quoted by German magazine der Spiegel saying that American troops should leave Iraq "as soon as possible, as far as we're concerned."
"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months," al-Maliki was quoted as saying. "That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."
The magazine is standing by its story, but the Iraqi government is backing away from the endorsement of any U.S. presidential candidate, saying al-Maliki's comments "should not be understood as support to any U.S. presidential candidate." President Bush and al-Maliki recently agreed to a "general time horizon" for pulling troops out of Iraq, and McCain has argued that his support for the surge is one of the main reasons troops are able to be drawn down.
"This trip that he's on would have been vastly different if we had done what Sen. Obama wanted to do, and that is he wanted to withdraw," McCain said. "He opposed the surge, he said the surge wouldn't work and fails to acknowledge that it's working today."
McCain will be speaking with President Bush this morning, but not the current White House occupant. George H.W. Bush is holding a fundraiser for McCain at the family's compound in Kennebunkport this morning, and later today McCain will attend a picnic at the Maine Military Museum here.