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Are McCain’s Attacks On Romney’s War Stance Fair?

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I’ve stayed out of this story until recently because of the focus on the Dems race in South Carolina, but now Florida is upon us and so it’s time to turn attention back to the GOP.

Basically, McCain said that Romney wanted a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. But did he?

First, here’s what Romney said…

ROBIN ROBERTS (ABC NEWS): Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?

ROMNEY: Well, there’s no question – but 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 gonna be gone. You wanna have a series of things you wanna see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police and the leadership of the, of the Iraqi government.

ROBERTS: So, private? You wouldn’t do it publicly because – the President has said flat out that he will veto anything the Congress passes about a timetable for – troop withdrawals. As president, would you do the same?

ROMNEY: Well, could you, yeah – well, of course. Could you, could you imagine the setting where, where during the second World War we said to the, the Germans, gee, if we haven’t reached the Rhine by this date, we’ll go home, or if we haven’t gotten this accomplished, we’ll, we’ll pull up and leave? You don’t, you don’t publish that to your enemy, or they just simply lie and wait until that time. So, of course, you have to work together to create timetables and milestones, but you don’t do that with the, with the opposition.

The Washington Post says McCain isn’t being truthful…

John McCain is trying to shift the debate back to Iraq from the economy. He lumped Mitt Romney with the Democrats, saying, “if we surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do, and withdraw, as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos, genocide, and the cost of American blood and treasure would be dramatically higher.” The former Massachusetts governor has hit back, accusing his rival of “dishonesty,” and distorting his position. So who is telling the truth? […]

Talking vaguely about “timetables and milestones” is not the same thing as setting “a date for withdrawal,” from Iraq, as Senator McCain has tried to argue. And while Romney has talked about secret understandings with the Iraqi government, that is very different from promises by Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates to remove most U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of 2009.

What’s more, these attacks seem to be hurting McCain as the Republican base begins to rally around Romney. He has pulled ahead in Florida and he’s gaining on McCain in other bellwether states as well.

Also, I’ll give Mitt this, he knows which way the wind blows and will follow it without apology. Now he has refocused on the economy and that seems to be helping him and hurting McCain. I think John knows this, that’s why he’s attacking Mitt right now. And it’s unfortunate to see him mischaracterizing Romney’s stance because this is hardly “straight talk.”