Watch CBSN Live

McCain: Iraq Milestone No Thanks to Obama

President Barack Obama touted the end of combat operations in Iraq - a milestone that comes seven years after the U.S. invasion of that country toppled Saddam Hussein's regime - during an Oval Office address Tuesday, but many Republicans have argued Mr. Obama is simply taking credit for a success owed to his predecessor, George W. Bush.

During an "Early Show" interview Wednesday, Arizona Sen. John McCain continued to hammer home that point, saying that "if we had done what President Obama wanted, we would have failed in Iraq."

"It was President Bush who made the decision over the vociferous option of … then-Sen. Obama, to do the surge," McCain told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith.

McCain's comments echoed similar sentiments by the top Republicans in Congress, Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

During his address, Mr. Obama said the U.S. had "met its responsibilities" in Iraq and it was "time to turn the page" on what is the second-longest war in American history and refocus efforts on restoring the country's shaky economy.

"The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people," he said. "We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home."

Mr. Obama also addressed the ongoing war in Afghanistan, reiterating plans to draw down U.S. troop levels in the middle of next year "because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's."

Mr. Obama also repeated that a final decision on force levels would be made in light of conditions on the ground, but McCain, long a critic of any notion of military timetables, again criticized president on that point.

"The thing that disturbed me the most is this continued repetition that we are leaving at a date certain. You don't win conflicts when you tell the enemy you're leaving," he said, adding that the July 31, 2011 goal of beginning a troop withdrawal was "purely a political decision."

Full Coverage of Iraq Transition:

U.S. Officially Marks Last Phase of Iraq War
Obama Hails End of Iraq Combat, Stresses Economy
Obama Calls Bush Fellow Patriot in Iraq Speech
Obama: Most Urgent Task to Restore the Economy
Obama's Iraq Speech: Full Text
Obama Calls Bush, Talks to Troops about Iraq
Biden: Time to Focus on the Economy
McCain: Iraq Milestone No Thanks to Obama
Real Risks for 50,000 U.S. Troops Still in Iraq
A Bittersweet Homecoming for Iraq Troops
Obama on Fallen Soldiers
'Transition in Afghanistan Will Begin'
Obama on Bush Conversation, Patriotism
American Challenges at Home

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue