On the day before Gen. David Petraeus will be grilled on Capitol Hill about Iraq, John McCain will criticize his Democratic opponents this morning during a speech in Kansas City, Mo.
"I do not want to keep our troops in Iraq a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests there," McCain will say at the Veterans of Foreign Wars headquarters, according to prepared remarks.
"But I do not believe that anyone should make promises as a candidate for President that they cannot keep if elected. To promise a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, regardless of the calamitous consequences to the Iraqi people, our most vital interests, and the future of the Middle East, is the height of irresponsibility. It is a failure of leadership," he continues.
"The American people deserve the truth from their leaders. They deserve a candid assessment of the progress we have managed to make in the last year in preventing the worst from happening in Iraq, of the very serious difficulties that remain, and of the grave consequences of a hasty, reckless, and irresponsible withdrawal. If we are honest about the opportunities and the risks, I believe they will have the patience to allow us the time necessary to obtain our objectives.
"That honesty is my responsibility, and it is also the responsibility of Senators Obama and Clinton, as well as Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress. Doing the right thing in the heat of a political campaign is not always the easiest thing. But when 4,000 Americans have given their lives so that America does not suffer the worst consequences of our failure in Iraq, it is a necessary thing. In such a grave matter, we must put the nation's interests before our own ambitions."
Meantime, McCain concluded his biography tour over the weekend in his home state of Arizona. In his last speech he talked about the early years of Senate career and credited former Sens. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., and Mo Udall, D-Ariz., for their bipartisan influence on him. McCain said the challenges we face today require the same type of effort, as he vowed to lead in their example by reaching across the aisle.
Tomorrow, McCain will attend the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with Petraeus.