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March 16, 2008
McCain in Iraq
While his Democratic rivals clobber each other back home, John McCain is in Iraq getting a feel for the situation on the ground and talking with military and diplomatic leaders about the future:
McCain's visit was not announced and he was believed to have been in the country for several hours before reporters were able to confirm his arrival. It was unclear who he met with; no media opportunities or news conferences were planned. Not that he's getting much press these days anyway.
McCain, a strong supporter of the U.S. military mission in Iraq, is believed to be staying in the country for about 24 hours.
"Senator McCain is in Iraq and will be meeting with Iraqi and U.S. officials," said Mirembe Nantongo, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
This is the senator's eighth visit to Iraq. He's accompanied by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Before leaving, McCain said the trip to the Middle East and Europe was a fact-finding venture, not a campaign photo opportunity.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that news of his visit to Iraq only bolsters his credentials compared to Obama and Clinton. The comparison is going to be absolutely vital for McCain in the general election where he must make it painfully obvious that handing the presidency to either one of the Democrats could be a catastrophe for American foreign policy.
The trip will also be a get acquainted session with our European allies. Many know him already but especially for Brown in Great Britain and Sarkozy in France, McCain will also visit Israel where the leadership and opposition both know him well.