(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – Calling Barack Obama "a little testy" over allegations that he had questioned his patriotism, John McCain continued his criticism of Obama today by saying his opponent did not care whether the U.S. leaves Iraq victorious.
"Let me be very clear: I am not questioning his patriotism; I am questioning his judgment," McCain said. "Sen. Obama has made it clear that he values withdrawal from Iraq above victory in Iraq, even today with victory in sight. Over and over again, he has advocated unconditional withdrawal – regardless of the facts on the ground. And he voted against funding for troops in combat, after he said it would be wrong to do so. He has made these decisions not because he doesn't love America, but because he doesn't think it matters whether America wins or loses."
Yesterday, Obama sought to put to rest any questions about his patriotism. "I will let no one question my love of this country," he said. "I love America, so do you, and so does John McCain."
Members of the audience here, though, had other questions on their mind – especially about McCain's running mate choice, in light of McCain recently floating the idea of picking a pro-abortion rights vice president.
"I heard a rumor that you're going to pick a pro-life VP," a woman asked McCain here, her tone suggesting she feared a pro-abortion rights decision. "Is that true?"
"I said on Saturday night that I have a proud pro-life record in Congress, and I am proud of that," McCain answered. "I believe that life applies to those that are not born as well as those that are born."
That didn't assuage some members of the crowd.
"In the past you have alienated a great deal of conservatives who believe that conservative principles are always the answer, by stepping across the aisle," a man asked. "Are you going to pick a vice president that conservatives can actually rally around in the future, or are you going to give us someone who will cause us to want to stay home perhaps?"
"I will nominate a person to be vice president, my running mate, who shares my principles, my values, and my priorities," McCain said. "We also have to energize our base who cares a lot about our lack of fiscal responsibility, who are very angry. We're also going to have to energize our base that cares about this nation's security, which is probably, when we look at the many challenges we face, probably very significant."