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Faced With Facts, McCain Denies His Own Straight Talk

By Amanda Terkel  

"Faced With Facts, McCain Denies His Own Straight Talk"

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Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told CNN that that President Bush’s escalation in Iraq is going so well, “General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee.” On Monday, he told radio host Bill Bennett that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.”

This morning, during an interview with McCain, CNN’s John Roberts rebutted McCain’s assertions, stating, “I checked with General Petraeus’s people overnight and they said he never goes out in anything less than an up-armored humvee.” He added that a new report by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey “said no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat reporter could walk the streets of Baghdad without heavily armed protection.”

Faced with overwhelming evidence that he was wrong, McCain denied he’d ever said it: “Well, I’m not saying they could go without protection. The President goes around America with protection. So, certainly I didn’t say that.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/03/cnniraqmccain4.320.240.flv]

CNN’s Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware, who has lived in Iraq for four years, said military sources greeted McCain’s comments yesterday with “laughter down the line.”

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UPDATE: AmericaBlog has a great idea to get to the bottom of this: call McCain’s office and ask him to name the “neighborhoods” in Baghdad that are safe enough to walk around.

Transcript:

CNN’S JOHN ROBERTS: I wanted to talk to you about the situation in Iraq. Yesterday in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room. I want to play this back for you. You had this to say about the situation there.

[McCAIN CLIP]: General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee. I think you oughta catch up. You are giving the old line of three months ago. I understand it. We certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.

ROBERTS: Senator, did you mean to say that, that General Petraeus goes out every day in an unarmed humvee?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I mean that there are neighborhoods safe in Iraq and he does go out into Baghdad and the fact is there has been significant progress and people are stuck in a time warp of three months ago. Of course, it’s still dangerous. Of course it’s still very dangerous. We only have two of the five brigades there and we are already seeing significant progress.

ROBERTS: Because I checked with General Petraeus’s people overnight and they said he never goes out in anything less than an up-armored humvee. You also told Bill Bennett on his radio program on Monday. You said there are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhood today yet retired General Barry McCaffrey said no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat reporter could walk the streets of Baghdad without heavily armed protection. We’ve got two different stories here. Who’s right?

McCAIN: Well, I’m not saying they could go without protection. The President goes around America with protection. So, certainly I didn’t say that.

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