Appearing on MSNBC today, Nancy Pfotenhauer, senior adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), touted McCain’s national security credentials, citing his support of increasing troops in Iraq while the war was unpopular. Pfotenhauer claimed that even President Bush did not support the idea:
When Senator McCain challenged the current strategy on the ground in Iraq, and was pushing for the surge, alongside Gen. Petraeus, this was incredibly unpopular here in Washington. It was particularly unpopular with President Bush. And he did it because that’s what he felt was right on the ground and he put the interests of the country first.
But the facts show that Bush clearly did support a surge of troops in Iraq. In 2006, then-Multinational Force Commander George Casey, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Iraq Study Group all argued against sending more troops to Iraq. Bush ignored this advice, however, and went as far as to replace Casey with Gen. Petraeus, who was open to a troop increase.
Furthermore, at the time, 68 percent of Americans opposed Bush’s call for a surge. Despite the military and public clearly rejecting the plan, Bush expressed little doubt about the surge and ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq.
Pfotenhauer’s claim that the surge was “particularly unpopular” with Bush is particularly laughable.