Kerry was relentless with McCain through out the entire debate and at one point, he noted that mcCain, evidently had been debating himself. McCain insinuated that Democrats wanted to “To pull the plug" on Iraq... Kerry responded, “We’re not talking about abandoning Iraq... We’re talking about changing the mission.”
McCain was putty, repeating every Republican talking point he could grasp out of thin air. Kerry was masterful, leaving no corner of the Iraq War issue unexposed. The transcript is as follows:
MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: The president restates his belief in the war.
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: We must help Iraq defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours.
MR. RUSSERT: And he calls for an “enduring relationship” with Iraq that would keep American forces there “beyond my presidency.” What now? With us, decorated Vietnam veteran, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry; and decorated Vietnam veteran, 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Kerry and McCain square off. A debate: Should we leave or should we stay?
Then, the very latest on the 2008 race for the White House. Insights and analysis from Chris Cillizza of washingtonpost.com; and Chuck Todd, political director of NBC News.
But first, the debate over the war in Iraq. Front and center across the country in our nation’s capital yesterday as anti-war protesters and counterdemonstrations were held. The debate is also front and center this morning right here on MEET THE PRESS. We’re joined by two men who have seen war, who feel they should be president, and who have very strong but different views on the way forward in Iraq. With us, Democrat John Kerry, Republican John McCain.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN, (R-AZ): Good morning.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me start with you, Senator McCain. What should be the U.S. strategy in Iraq for the next year?
SEN. McCAIN: The U.S. strategy in Iraq should be to defeat al-Qaeda, to do everything we can to reverse the increasing influence of Iran in Iraq, and to achieve or move towards the goal of military security and a functioning government.
MR. RUSSERT: General Petraeus was in Washington, and he testified and he agreed that in order to do that we will lose, on the average, two U.S. men or women per day...
SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.
MR. RUSSERT: ...15 will be wounded or injured per day...
SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.
MR. RUSSERT: ...at a cost of $300 million per day. Is it worth it?
SEN. McCAIN: Well, General Petraeus’ answer was pretty much the same as mine. All of us are saddened and frustrated by the course of this war. It was very badly mismanaged by the former secretary of defense and this administration. I, late in 2003, said this strategy is doomed to failure, that we had to fix it, that we had to adopt the strategy that we’ve now adopted. And it is now succeeding. Are we heartbroken at the loss and sacrifice of these brave young Americans? Of course. But the point is that now that we are succeeding with this strategy—and that’s the opinion of most observers—and abandon it and go—either go back to the previous failed strategy, which some Democrats want to do, or set a date for pullout and indicate that we’re leaving the neighborhood, then there’s no doubt in my mind of the consequences. And that’ll be genocide, chaos in the region and far worse than the situation we have today, which I believe can succeed if given sufficient time.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Kerry, your response.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Well, the Bush-McCain strategy of escalating our troops in the middle of a civil war has no relationship directly to what you need to do to resolve the civil war. So you can put additional troops in and secure a small area here or there, but everybody knows there are not enough troops to be able to secure all of the areas you need to secure and, most importantly, it does absolutely nothing to resolve the fundamental differences, Tim. A policy of putting more troops in and staying is a policy for staying. It is not a policy for winning or for changing the equation. And the fact is that over the last four and a half years, they’ve had ample opportunity to make any of the fundamental political decisions that really don’t relate to security. An oil revenue law does not take security to be passed. A de-Baathification law does not take security to be passed. It takes political will. They haven’t shown the political will. We have to change the fundamental equation and create leverage in our relationship.
READ ON HERE.