Continuing the campaign battles over issues of war and patriotism, Barack Obama accused John McCain of using the successes of the surge to hide the fact that he has been wrong on every substantive foreign policy decision during the last seven years.
"His whole argument when it comes to foreign policy and how his judgment is superior is all based on the surge," said Obama. "He will argue, he is wrong on everything else, but 'I stood by and committed to doubling down more troops in Iraq and General Petraeus was with me and I seek victory and Obama wants defeat.'... Let me just close by saying this. I will put my judgment on foreign policy over the last seven years against John McCain's anytime. And I think that an objective analysis will say that I've been right a lot more than he has for all that time he has spent in Washington.
The remarks, which came during a town hall meeting in Virginia, reflect a sharpened effort by the Illinois Democrat to disabuse the notion that he lacks the gravitas to be commander in chief and is driven more by political ambition than foreign policy pragmatism. Indeed, surrogates to the Senator have come to his defense as well amidst repeated jabs from the McCain campaign.
"I just don't get it," Sen. John Kerry told the Huffington Post. "It's one thing that John McCain has made so many false claims about the surge. He claimed that it started the Anbar Awakening when the Anbar Awakening was already well underway when the surge was announced, and he seems to confuse Sunni and Shi'a repeatedly. But this false argument that opposing the Bush policy could only be done for political reasons is the place where reason and debate go to die. You call him out on the facts and he questions our integrity? That sounds an awful lot like George W Bush."
Debates over patriotism and the efficacy of the surge have dominated the presidential campaign during the past several days, with the Obama and McCain campaigns engaging in a often personalized back-and-forth. Earlier this week, during an appearance before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Obama accused McCain of questioning his patriotism, to which McCain responded by calling him "testy."
"[Sen. Obama] said that I am questioning his patriotism," said the Arizona Republican. "Let me be clear: I am not questioning his patriotism; I am questioning his judgment. Senator Obama has made it clear that he values withdrawal from Iraq above victory in Iraq, even today with victory in sight."
On Thursday, Obama took umbrage with this interpretation of events. "I expect [John McCain] to show me the same courtesy that I showed him," said the presumptive Democratic nominee. "Then yesterday he tried to say he wasn't challenging my patriotism, he was challenging my judgment. What does it say when you say someone would rather lose a war than lose an election? Of course he was challenging my patriotism."