McCain Calls for Honesty on Iraq

John McCain called on his Democratic rivals to tell the truth about the Iraq war to the American people.

McCain has been criticized by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee for saying that he is willing to keep troops in Iraq for "100 years." McCain's campaign has pushed back against the Democrats' attack, saying that the Republican was referring to a U.S. force in Iraq similar to the non-combat American presence in South Korea since the end of the Korean War.

McCain himself fired back at his Democratic rivals in a speech Monday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Mo:
"The American people deserve the truth from their leaders. They deserve a candid assessment of the progress we have managed to make in the last year in preventing the worst from happening in Iraq, of the very serious difficulties that remain, and of the grave consequences of a hasty, reckless, and irresponsible withdrawal. If we are honest about the opportunities and the risks, I believe they will have the patience to allow us the time necessary to obtain our objectives. That honesty is my responsibility, and it is also the responsibility of Senators Obama and Clinton, as well as Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress."

Read McCain's whole speech here.

McCain also opposed a troop drawdown, putting him at odds with Obama and Clinton, who have called for a timetable to bring home combat forces.

"To promise a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, regardless of the calamitous consequences to the Iraqi people, our most vital interests, and the future of the Middle East, is the height of irresponsibility," McCain said.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean called McCain's attacks "irresponsible."

"Responsible leadership means being honest about your plans for the future, not hiding behind empty rhetoric and shallow attacks," Dean said.