McCain Moves Forward; Says U.S. Has "Succeeded" in Iraq

(CBS)
From CBS News' John Bentley:

(GRAND HAVEN, MICH.) For months, John McCain has said "we're succeeding in Iraq." Today, though, there was a slight change in tone – instead of "succeeding," the term used was "succeeded."

"We have succeeded," McCain said. "And if we continue this strategy, we will win the war. We have succeeded. This strategy of the surge and everything that goes with it has succeeded. And those are the facts on the ground."

When asked what specific events had indicated success, McCain mentioned broad military, economic, and political benchmarks the Iraqi government had reached.

"They haven't got them all, but the fact that the government is functioning effectively, the economic situation is improving dramatically, the Iraqi government now has control of the major cities of Mosul, Basra and Sadr City, as well as Baghdad," McCain said. "Do they have a lot more to go? A distance to go? Yes, and it's very fragile. It can be reversed. But they've succeeded."

He also seemed to contradict what his communications director, Jill Hazelbaker, said today. Speaking on Fox News this afternoon, she took issue with Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Let's drop the pretense that this is a fact-finding trip and call it what it is,' Hazelbaker said. "The first of its kind campaign rally overseas." McCain's campaign also sent the quote out in an e-mailed press release. But it seemed to catch her boss by surprise.

"I can only give you my opinion, and I will talk to her," McCain said. "But the fact is, I'm glad that he's going to Iraq and I think it's – I'm glad that he's going to Afghanistan. It's long, long overdue, if you want to lead this nation and secure our national security."

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