McClain urges determination in Iraq
INDIAN WELLS— Republican presidential candidate John McCain warned Saturday that U.S. failure in Iraq would eventually pull America into a “wider and more difficult war” in the troubled region.“To concede defeat as many leading Democrats now advocate would strengthen al-Qaida, empower Iran and other hostile powers in the Middle East, unleash a full scale civil war in Iraq … and destabilize the entire region,” the Arizona senator told activists at a state Republican convention.“The consequences would threaten us for years,” he added. It “would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would impose even greater sacrifices on us.”McCain later told reporters, “If we set a date for withdrawal, that’s a date for surrender.” McCain’s comments largely echoed his previous remarks on the war: he lashed out at Democrats, criticized earlier mistakes by civilian and military commanders; and asserted the troop increase in Iraq was succeeding.He evoked Ronald Reagan’s struggle against communism, saying the U.S. won the Cold War “on our terms.”“The war in Iraq has not gone well and the American people have grown sick and tired of it. I understand that,” McCain said. “Like you, I want our troops to come home, but I want them to come home with honor.”Also on Saturday, political fissures divided state Republicans as they faced questions about the future of a party that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says has lost its way.At the convention, a committee made only incremental headway trying to craft a new platform while some members angrily complained about being shut out or misled. And a day after Schwarzenegger declared the party had lost the political middle ground and was “dying at the box office,” state party Chairman Ron Nehring did respond directly when asked if he agreed with the governor’s assessment.“We are a big party,” Nehring told reporters, without specifically commenting on Schwarzenegger’s remarks. Nehring later added, “If any party has lost the middle ground in America, it’s the Democrats.”Schwarzenegger on Friday provided a grim assessment of his party’s standing in California, saying it needed to appeal to independents or risk being relegated to the political margins. He said the party had lost 120,000 registered voters in eight months, and more than 370,000 since 2005.Schwarzenegger, a Republican centrist, argued that the party needed to attract new voters by tackling issues with broad public appeal, like global warming. Otherwise, voters “will look elsewhere,” he said.Reaction was mixed. The speech underscored long-standing differences between Schwarzenegger and conservatives in his party, who have differed on state spending, debt and social issues.“Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Republican Party have been a marriage of convenience from the beginning,” said conservative Michael Schroeder, a former party chairman. “Nothing he expressed in his speech enjoys majority support in the Republican Party, and never will.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!