Skip to comments.McCain Starts To Feel Fallout From Iraq
Posted on 12/16/2006 6:27:25 PM PST by blam
McCain starts to feel fallout from Iraq
By Philip Sherwell in New York, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 1:28am GMT 17/12/2006
The popularity of John McCain, the decorated Vietnam veteran and strong contender for the Republican 2008 presidential nomination, is being undermined by his support for the Iraq war.
As he took his undeclared White House campaign to Baghdad, among a congressional delegation to Iraq, the Arizona senator called for the deployment of up to 35,000 more US troops and made clear that he opposed a timetable for withdrawal.
John McCain with other United States senators as they met Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad last week
Yet even as Mr McCain, 70, was talking to US commanders and Iraqi leaders in the Green Zone, troubling poll data for his White House hopes were emerging at home. Among independent voters, his strongest backers in his previous tilt at the nomination, support has slipped 15 per cent since March.
The figures reveal the stark dilemma facing would-be Republican candidates to succeed President George W Bush in the 2008 election, for which the party's big-hitters are already limbering up.
None can afford to be seen as soft on security or foreign affairs, yet the kind of voters who are likely to swing the result are increasingly tired of America's intervention.
Mr Bush is himself understood to favour a temporary "surge" of at least 20,000 troops as part of the fresh Iraq strategy he intends to announce early next month.
The two men are backing a troop increase as a last-ditch effort to halt Iraq's ever-bloodier descent into sectarian conflict even though the military top brass do not want an increase in the present 140,000-strong force level.
Mr McCain's hawkish stance on national security helped to make him a Republican favourite for the White House in 2008. But the slide in support among a key group of voters has coincided with a period during which he has been the leading voice calling for the deployment of more US troops in Iraq. He has also been busy re-building bridges with the religious Right who opposed him in 2000.
Fissures within Republican ranks have been clear for all to see since the Democrats defeated them in last month's congressional elections, and have grown since the Iraq Study Group (ISG) published its findings 11 days ago.
The panel recommended that most American combat troops should leave Iraq by early 2008, that the US military training programme for Iraqi forces should be stepped up significantly and that Washington engage Syria and Iran in talks. While some prominent Republican moderates have backed the panel and called for an exit strategy from Iraq, Mr McCain heavily criticised the report and stuck to his demands for extra troops.
He is not alone among Republican 2008 front-runners in rejecting the ISG proposals. Rudolph Giuliani, 62, the former New York mayor who is leading the field of possible candidates, and Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts governor, have both struck a similar note in recent days.
Mr Giuliani was a member of the panel before resigning in the summer officially, because he feared that its work would interfere with his possible presidential run, but he is also understood to have been worried about the direction it was taking.
Mr Giuliani, who shot to international prominence for his handling of the World Trade Centre terrorist attacks, said that leaving Iraq would be a "terrible mistake" and criticised the ISG's linking of events in Iraq to resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
With Mr Romney, 59, who is near-certain to run, also distancing himself from the ISG, Republicans are likely to face a choice between a series of security hawks when they choose their candidate in the primaries, early in 2008.
Among Republicans, Mr Giuliani is favoured by 34 per cent, despite his liberal views on abortion and gay rights, well ahead of Mr McCain on 26 per cent. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, stands at 12 per cent, while Mr Romney is fourth on five per cent.
Both Mr Giuliani and Mr McCain would beat the Democrat front-runner, Sen Hillary Clinton, according to head-to-head polls.
Mr McCain, who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, gave an uncompromising and impassioned assessment of the security risks in the Middle East in a foreign affairs speech in New York last week.
"We cannot wish away the many serious mistakes we have made there, or the violence that plagues that society," he said. "With a civil war a real possibility, the temptation is to wash our hands of a messy situation. To follow this impulse, however, is to risk catastrophe.
"If US forces begin a pull-out, we risk all-out civil war and the emergence of a failed state in the heart of the Middle East. We must do everything possible to succeed there but the road is going to be long and tough and it will be costly in dollars and American lives."
President Bush has delayed to next month a speech outlining his Iraq plans, so that Robert Gates, who replaces Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary tomorrow, can contribute to the review.
Last week, the president was told by his Joint Chiefs of Staff that they recommended the US should change its main military mission from combat to supporting Iraqi forces and was concentrating on hunting terrorists.
The advice seemed to put them closer to the ISG panel's conclusions than the president's thinking.
Gen Peter Schoomaker, the army's chief of staff, warned that the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was so great that the active-duty army "will break" under pressure unless force numbers are bolstered.
The MSM loves McCain only when he is attacking Republicans. If he were ever to get the GOP POTUS nomination, the MSM would turn on him instantly, suggesting he belonged in an asylum, etc. He really needs to get a clue.
Sooooooo..John McCain may NEED the conservatives that he has said he doesn't need after all???
There are a LOT of other reasons than Iraq for his poll numbers going down.
With what happened to 59 year old Tim Johnson last week...McCain's age may also have finally registered with some of his fans.
Despite all the other crap he has done and espoused, good for him standing up on this. You are right about the nomination. The MSM loves him until he gets in the way of a Dem taking the White House. Then, they go for the jugular.
Gosh....this group of Senators are WAY to chummy, IMO...LOL
Lieberman and Collins on a trip again, and Lindsay and McCain...
The ignorant and uninformed Philip Sherwell from the UK is full of crap. The only thing McCain has going for him right now IS HIS SUPPORT FOR THE WAR IN IRAQ. What a bozo.
Sure, spin it that his lack of support is because of his war position.
Many republicans simply don't like the liberal positions he took on some issues of importance like campaign finance and stopping the unwarranted filibusters of judicial nominees to block majority confirmations.
And democrats are simply abandoning him as they realise he might be running against a democrat for president.
If I'm not mistaken, the Telegraph is a leftie/lib leaning anti-war "paper". Am I correct?
Of course...they always refer to each other as "my good friend".
Makes me want to hurl.
hey, reagan was pretty old too.
LOL. I troll around some sites where some pretty awful things are said about these two. Amusing, but I think Linseed just sees McCain as a power and, being an unprincipled little twit, he latches on to advance himself. We are seriously underserved, my friend.
McCain is not having problems because of his support for the war - period.
McCain is having difficulty because the media may have suddenly come to grips with reality and found out the public is not faling al over McCain like they are.
McCain IS NOT THE FRONT-RUNNER - AND HE NEVER HAS BEEN except in the minds of the media.
Hugh Hewitt said, and I agree .. "the media wants McCain because they already have a plan to beat him with mental instability and cancer".
If I'm not mistaken, Clinton Admin beady-eyed rodent William Cohen was the highest ranking "military official" on Baker's shameful ISG (Iraq Surrender Group). Simply astonishing. And Baker, the mole who tried to derail Reagan's tax cut program, was the chief rat. The GOP is infiltrated by far too many big-government globalist socialists.
Yes, he was...but I have watched McCain speak this last few months...and he doesn't sound very strong.
Even when Reagan was having some memory problems..he spoke STRONG...
McCain has other things against him...age just being one of many.
Not correct. It is one of the most conservative.
it's interesting you mention that. a recent poll found that mccain's age was just as much of a negative as romney's lds background. both had high negatives.
72 is old
but this poll drop wasn't among republicans, it was among independents, who generally support his other positions. If he's dropping that much with indepedents, he's in trouble
BOY do we need to get a younger, more dynamic conservative to just take this nomination and run with it.
The popularity of John McCain, the decorated Vietnam veteran and strong contender for the Republican 2008 presidential nomination.
Popular? Maybe with Tim Russert, but not with the base. Strong contender? See the above comment.
On the Iraqi war even most of the "conservative" media in Europe is more "anti-war" than "Liberal" mainstream media opinion is the US - outside of the US it's very difficult to find commentators who don't feel the the US effort was horribly botched, and that "victory" there on terms attractive to the US is beyond reach. Mostly such discussion turns instead on how to "internationalize" the resolution - basically how to achieve a "least-bad" result from the European perspective.
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