Republican presidential candidate John McCain kicked off a "No Surrender" bus tour with a stop Tuesday night in Sioux City. "I hope we can convince a sufficient number of Americans that the strategy is succeeding, that if we set a date for withdrawal as the Democrats and some others want us to do then there’ll be catastrophic failure, genocide and we’ll be back with greater sacrifice," McCain said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.
McCain is among the staunchest supporters of the so-called surge and he is praising the testimony General David Petraeus and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq delivered to four congressional committees this week.
"I think they laid out in a very dispassionate fashion the facts as they see them and their argument for allowing this strategy to succeed," McCain said. "I think it’s also important to note that General Petraeus announced that some of the troops would be coming home because we have succeeded so far."
But another Republican senator — Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel who, like McCain, is a Vietnam veteran — suggested that the success will only be temporary since Hagel argues the Iraqis themselves seem unable to quell the violence in their own country. McCain said Iraq isn’t perfect, but he argues things are getting better.
"Of course we had a failed strategy for nearly four years under (former Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and we did not have enough troops on the ground and we paid a very high price for it," McCain told Radio Iowa. "I think this new strategy is succeeding. The facts are on the ground. We want to see more political progress on the part of the Maliki government and several other things, but there is significant improvement."
Decorated veterans of the Vietnam era, as well as Iraq war vets and their relatives, are joining McCain on this bus tour, which has stops Wednesday in Council Bluffs, Des Moines and Waterloo.