Just one more similarity between John McCain and the Clintons -- a willingness to ignore the facts and lie outright when it is politically expedient to do so.
John McCain accused Mitt Romney of wanting to set a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, drawing immediate protest from his Republican presidential rival who said: "That's simply wrong and it's dishonest, and he should apologize."
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First, he slapped at Romney without naming him during a question-and-answer session with Floridians, saying: "Now, one of my opponents wanted to set a date for withdrawal that would have meant disaster."
Minutes later to reporters, the Arizona senator was more direct: "If we surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do, and withdraw, as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos, genocide, and the cost of American blood and treasure would be dramatically higher."
Asked about the comment in Land O' Lakes, Fla., Romney bristled.
"That's dishonest, to say that I have a specific date. That's simply wrong," he said. "That is not the case. I've never said that."
The former Massachusetts governor added: "I know he's trying desperately to change the topic from the economy and trying to get back to Iraq, but to say something that's not accurate is simply wrong — and he knows better."
Later in Sun City, Fla., McCain stuck to his assessment and said: "The apology is owed to the young men and women serving this nation in uniform."
Utterly despicable, Senator, as not even your own campaign can produce a single statement by Gov. Romney calling for a timetable for withdrawal. Such claims on your part are disgraceful, and a sign that you are so desperate to destroy your only significant opposition for the GOP nomination that you are willing to stoop to Clintonian tactics to win. Even your lackeys in the media recognize that you are being disingenuous.
What Mitt Romney has said, clearly, consistently, and in concert with every patriotic American (which apparently excludes both you and the majority of Democrats). Indeed, the closest that one gets to urging a set date for withdrawal is a comment by Romney that the US and Iraq need to set milestones and timetables -- but that these are not for public consumption. And as a former military officer like McCain knows full well, planning for any military operation includes such milestones and timetables -- but that such plans are subject to revision based upon the facts on the ground as one engages the enemy, not set in stone via public declarations by politicians in search of votes. As such, Mitt Romney was advocating appropriate military and diplomatic strategy, not calling for retreat and surrender.
And Ed Morrissey points out who has implicitly called for withdrawal if benchmarks and timetables aren't met -- John McCain.
[He] said Thursday that he hadn't yet decided on precise benchmarks. "They'd have to be specific, and they (Iraqi government officials) would have to meet them," he said.
Asked what penalty would be imposed if Iraq failed to meet his benchmarks, he said: "I think everybody knows the consequences. Haven't met the benchmarks? Obviously, then, we're not able to complete the mission. Then you have to examine your options."
And when he made that statement a year ago, Democrats trumpeted it as a sign that Republicans were coming around to their position on troop withdrawals. So who owes an apology to the troops, Senator -- as well as to his opponent?
UPDATE: Romney supporter Hugh Hewitt notes that even the McCain-endorsing New York Times is calling this charge "misleading".
The charge appears to be misleading. The McCain campaign pointed to remarks Mr. Romney made last year in which he said he believed that President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq should have “a series of timetables and milestones” that they discussed among themselves but did not announce publicly.
But Mr. Romney has not called for setting a date for withdrawal. Mr. Romney has said he supports the president’s current strategy, although he has said he anticipates more and more American troops moving into a support role in Iraq in the next year — similar to what Gen. David H. Petraeus outlined in his testimony before Congress last year.
It's rough when even your friends are calling you on your lies.
Everyone except for McCain and his surrogates are saying this charge is false. Interestingly enough, John McCain says he was there when Mitt Romney made a call for a timetable for withdrawal. So we are either looking at a question of honesty or one of mental fitness. Neither option is particularly pretty. (Daffyd at Big Lizards notes a third option -- that McCain wishes to maintain the current troop level,160,000 servicemen and women, permanently.)
UPDATE II: Looks like HuckaBubba has gotten into the act, too -- but without even a recourse to a quote to back him up.
Mike Huckabee sided with John McCain Sunday, saying GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney did back a set calendar for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is battling Huckabee and McCain for the Republican presidential nomination, called McCain dishonest for saying he once supported a troop withdrawal timetable.
Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, said on "Fox News Sunday" that while he disagrees with McCain, the senator from Arizona, on issues from time to time, he has never seen him utter something "just blatantly untrue."
"The reason that I'm aware of Mitt Romney's statement about the secret timetable is because that was originally proposed by a senator from my state, Sen. Mark Pryor," Huckabee said. "And there are published reports that I've witnessed and seen, more than one, in which Mitt Romney did, in fact, talk about support for not a public timetable, but a secret timetable that would be held by administration officials, members of Congress."
Re. Huckabee, would you care to square this statement with Exodus 20:16 and Deteronomy 5:20? Or do you perhaps need to reacquaint yourself with these two verses? Clearly we need to apply Deuteronomy 19:19 to both you and Senator McCain -- in the interest of squaring matters with God's law, of course.
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