Mr. Bush "is tinkering around the edges and kicking the can down the road to the next president" with his decision Tuesday to bring home only 8,000 combat and support troops from Iraq by February, said Obama, who hopes to be that next president.
Mr. Bush said a Marine battalion scheduled to be sent to Iraq in November will instead be deployed to Afghanistan, followed by an Army combat brigade early next year. In all,.
Less than two hours later, Obama went before reporters during a campaign stop in this Midwestern battleground to respond.
"His plan comes up short - it is not enough troops, not enough resources, with not enough urgency," Obama said. "The next president will inherit a status quo that is still unstable."
The Democratic presidential nominee said Mr. Bush doesn't understand that Afghanistan and Pakistan are the central front in the war on terrorism, not Iraq. He said his Republican White House rival,, doesn't get that, either.
Obama said if elected in November, he will remove troops from Iraq in a measured but methodical way and send more into Afghanistan. He recently proposed sending two brigades, or about more 7,000 troops, into Afghanistan, while withdrawing one or two brigades a month from Iraq.
Except for bringing home the 8,000 troops, Mr. Bush said, he'll keep the U.S. force strength in Iraq intact until the next president takes over. He said more U.S. forces could be withdrawn if conditions allow in the first half of 2009, but that will be the call of his successor. About 146,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq.
McCain spoke at a rally in Lebanon, Ohio, just after Mr. Bush made the announcement. The Republican presidential nominee's only acknowledgment of Iraq was to tell the crowd that the U.S. is winning and Obama was wrong about the war.
Later, McCain issued a statement, saying Mr. Bush's announcement of troop withdrawals next year "demonstrates what success in our efforts there can look like," and argued that it "stands in clear contrast to the reckless approach long advocated by Senator Obama."
McCain also backed additional forces in Afghanistan, and said, "Senator Obama believes we must lose in Iraq to win in Afghanistan." Obama has said Mr. Bush and McCain don't understand that the central front in the war on terror is Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Iraq.