John McCain and his Senate colleagues are warning Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama against politicizing scheduled testimony from senior Iraq officials.
Honesty “is the responsibility of Senators Obama and Clinton, as well as Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress,” said GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) in an address before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City. “Doing the right thing in the heat of a political campaign is not always the easiest thing. But when 4000 Americans have given their lives so that America does not suffer the worst consequences of our failure in Iraq, it is a necessary thing. In such a grave matter, we must put the nation's interests before our ambitions.”
Army General David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will testify to the Senate Armed Services Tuesday morning about progress in Iraq.
As the number one Republican on the Armed Services Committee and GOP’s presidential nominee, McCain’s handling of the hearing will be under intense scrutiny, as will his Democratic rivals’ participation in the hearings.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y) will question the general and the ambassador after McCain, as she is a much lower-ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and speaking order is determined by seniority. McCain will also have the opportunity to make opening and closing statements, unlike Clinton.
Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) will question Petraeus and Crocker later that day when the two officials appear before the Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday afternoon. Obama may not have his chance until well into the late in the day, however, as he only outranks four other senators on the committee.
Partisan lines over testimony from these officials were drawn when the liberal special interest group MoveOn.org called Petraeus “General Betray Us” in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times on the day Petraeus and Crocker came to Congress last September.
Clinton further inflamed tensions when she told Petraeus it would take the “willing suspension of disbelief” to believe progress was being made towards improving the security situation in Iraq in her question and answer time.
After the days of testimony concluded the Senate held a vote to condemn the Move.Org ad. It passed 72-25. Obama was absent the day the vote was held and Clinton voted against reprimanding MoveOn.org. MoveOn.org has since endorsed Obama for president over Clinton.
While McCain was campaigning in Missouri, his Senate Republican colleagues were holding message-building conference calls from their Washington offices.