McCain, Romney at War over the War

Rick Moran
Did Mitt Romney call for a phased withdrawal of American troops last April?

John McCain says yes while Romney denies it. And despite some press outlets calling "Foul" on McCain for deliberately misinterpreting what Romney said, the Arizona senator has kept repeating the charge everywhere in Florida he goes.

Steve Hayward on the controversy:

In April, ABC's Robin Roberts asked Romney: "Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?" He responded: "Well, there's no question that the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone. You want to have a series of things you want to see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police, and the leadership of the Iraqi government."

Writers from the Associated Press and Time magazine, among others, have suggested Romney's quote does not constitute an endorsement of "secret timetables" for withdrawal. It is a debatable point. If Romney does not actually say, "I support secret timetables for withdrawal," he does seem to endorse such timetables in response to a question about withdrawal. That's important. It was a direct question: "Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?" If the answer was no, presumably Romney would have said so. He did not.
I remember thinking at the time that Romney was echoing the Bush Administration's policy of adhering to certain benchmarks that would determine our withdrawal schedule. In other words, not a timed withdrawal but one based on what was happening on the ground in Iraq. In that sense, it appears to me that McCain is twisting the meaning of Romney's words in order to get a statement at odds with the truth.

But with Romney surging last week, McCain felt he must do something. He not only found a way to inject national security back into the Florida race but also discovered a soft spot in Romney's armor; experience in national security affairs.

It has evidently paid off because weekend polls show McCain clawing his way back into a virtual tie with Romney in every poll. Romney's momentum - whatever he had of it - has been blunted and McCain is now the one moving forward while Romney remains stagnant.

This is going to be by far the closest primary campaign to date, perhaps even closer than the Hillary-Obama race in New Hampshire where just a couple of thousand votes seperated the two candidates. And with the polls proving so unreliable this primary season, it would be best if you prepared yourself for a long wait on the network's call of who wins in Florida.
Did Mitt Romney call for a phased withdrawal of American troops last April?

John McCain says yes while Romney denies it. And despite some press outlets calling "Foul" on McCain for deliberately misinterpreting what Romney said, the Arizona senator has kept repeating the charge everywhere in Florida he goes.

Steve Hayward on the controversy:

In April, ABC's Robin Roberts asked Romney: "Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?" He responded: "Well, there's no question that the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone. You want to have a series of things you want to see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police, and the leadership of the Iraqi government."

Writers from the Associated Press and Time magazine, among others, have suggested Romney's quote does not constitute an endorsement of "secret timetables" for withdrawal. It is a debatable point. If Romney does not actually say, "I support secret timetables for withdrawal," he does seem to endorse such timetables in response to a question about withdrawal. That's important. It was a direct question: "Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?" If the answer was no, presumably Romney would have said so. He did not.
I remember thinking at the time that Romney was echoing the Bush Administration's policy of adhering to certain benchmarks that would determine our withdrawal schedule. In other words, not a timed withdrawal but one based on what was happening on the ground in Iraq. In that sense, it appears to me that McCain is twisting the meaning of Romney's words in order to get a statement at odds with the truth.

But with Romney surging last week, McCain felt he must do something. He not only found a way to inject national security back into the Florida race but also discovered a soft spot in Romney's armor; experience in national security affairs.

It has evidently paid off because weekend polls show McCain clawing his way back into a virtual tie with Romney in every poll. Romney's momentum - whatever he had of it - has been blunted and McCain is now the one moving forward while Romney remains stagnant.

This is going to be by far the closest primary campaign to date, perhaps even closer than the Hillary-Obama race in New Hampshire where just a couple of thousand votes seperated the two candidates. And with the polls proving so unreliable this primary season, it would be best if you prepared yourself for a long wait on the network's call of who wins in Florida.