Australian Prime Minister John Howard denied Monday that his abrasive criticisms of presidential contender Senator Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer GOP lawmaker says Obama got elected because he was black To woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE (D-Ill.) were motivated by political gain. Instead, Howard said his statements on Obama's plan to have U.S. troops out of Iraq by March 31 was in Australia's national interest, adding that a U.S. withdrawal signified the defeat of Australia's most powerful ally.

In a televised interview, Howard said al Qaeda operatives should pray for an Obama victory in 2008.

"If I was running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats," Howard.

Howard, a Bush supporter, is currently trailing in his re-election bid.

In case you missed it, below is the video of Obama's announcement Saturday in Springfield, Ill.