Australian Prime Minister John Howard denied Monday that his abrasive criticisms of presidential contender Senator Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal 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.