Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have been critical of presumptive GOP nominee John McCain for suggesting that America could be in Iraq for 100 years.
"We can't afford to stay in Iraq, like John McCain said, for another 100 years," Obama said in Lancaster, PA., echoing other comments he has made on the trail.
"We cannot take four more years of more of the same and if you listen to Sen. McCain, he wants to keep troops in Iraq, he has said, for up to 100 years," Clinton said in February. She made similar remarks last month.
Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean has called McCain "a blatant opportunist who...is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years."
The charge results from comments McCain made at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire in January. After a questioner told McCain that President Bush has talked about staying in Iraq for 50 years, McCain said, "make it a hundred."
He continued: "We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed."
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McCain appears to be talking about maintaining a presence in Iraq, not continuing the type of war America is now fighting. He suggests it would be acceptable to "maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world" similar to that in Japan and Korea.
The nonpartisan Annenberg Political Fact Check calls the DNC's suggestion, based on these comments, that McCain has called for an "endless war" in Iraq a "rank falsehood."
The McCain campaign, meanwhile, argues that Obama "has been knowingly twisting McCain's words," and McCain himself suggested that Obama's characterization of his comments exposes "a fundamental misunderstanding of history" on Obama's part, because he "has no experience or background on these issues."
But the Democratic frontrunner says his characterization is "entirely fair."
Pressed on the issue at a press conference, Obama, who advocates having troops looking after the American embassy and civilian populations in Iraq, as well as maintaining "a strike force in the region," either in or out of Iraq, after the war, said his position was "very different from saying we're going to have a permanent occupation in Iraq."
"And it's certainly different from saying that we would have a high level of combat troops inside Iraq for a decade or two decades, or, as John McCain said, perhaps a hundred years. I'm just quoting back what he said. Unless you tell me that that's a misquote."