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GOP Spotlights Frequency Of Obama's Iraq Visits

The Republican Party is looking to turn the frequency of Barack Obama's visits to Iraq into a campaign issue.

Yesterday, McCain said Obama "has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq," and said he would be open to the two rivals traveling to the country together.

"I would also seize that opportunity to educate Senator Obama along the way," McCain told the Associated Press. He also suggested Obama, who visited Iraq in January of 2006, "has wanted to surrender for a long time."

This morning, Talking Points Memo got a response from the Obama campaign to the notion of a joint trip, first suggested by Sen. Lindsey Graham, a McCain backer.

"John McCain's proposal is nothing more than a political stunt, and we don't need any more 'Mission Accomplished' banners or walks through Baghdad markets to know that Iraq's leaders have not made the political progress that was the stated purpose of the surge," Obama spokesperson Bill Burton said. "The American people don't want any more false promises of progress, they deserve a real debate about a war that has overstretched our military, and cost us thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars without making us safer."

McCain isn't letting up, however. Here's what he said in Reno today:

"Senator Obama has been to Iraq once. A little over two years ago he went, and he has never seized the opportunity, except in a hearing, to meet with General Petraeus."

McCain added: "Senator Obama is the chairman of an important subcommittee that has the oversight of what's going on in Afghanistan. He has not held one single hearing on Afghanistan where young Americans are in harm's way as we speak."

Responded the Obama camp: "On the day after the former White House press secretary conceded that the Bush administration used deception and propaganda to take us to war, it seems odd that Senator McCain, who bought the flawed rationale for war so readily, would be lecturing others on their depth of understanding about Iraq."

This afternoon, meanwhile, the Republican National Committee unveiled its tactic for spotlighting the issue – a countdown clock ticking off the time since the Democratic frontrunner went to Iraq.

"Barack Obama has only visited Iraq once – and that was 871 days ago," RNC Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan said in a statement trumpeting the clock. "Obama's failure to visit Iraq, listen and learn firsthand, and witness the surge's progress demonstrates weak leadership that disqualifies him from being Commander in Chief."