Yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) chief strategist David Axelrod noted that during Friday’s presidential debate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “never once mentioned the middle class.” In response, McCain’s top adviser Steve Schmidt noted that Obama never said “victory” regarding the “wars this country’s fighting.” Later, host Tom Brokaw noted that Gen. David Petraeus — whom McCain has called “one of the great military leaders in American history” — also refuses to use the word “victory” regarding Iraq. Schmidt then walked back his original comment slightly, saying the United States is “on the edge of victory.” Watch it:
AXELROD: What was phenomenal about that debate was that in 40 minutes on the economy, Senator McCain never once mentioned the middle class, never talked about the struggles people are going through. We need to create an economic recovery plan that puts at its core the middle class in this country.
SCHMIDT: Well, Tom, you know, this was a debate about national security, about foreign policy. You never heard the word victory from Senator Obama when it came to wars this country’s fighting.[...]
BROKAW: Let’s go back to this business about winning in Iraq, if we can. In fact, a number of people on the Republican have–side have said that we’re winning. But in an interview with the BBC, General David Petraeus said he did not know that he would ever use the word victory about Iraq. “This is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant a flag and go home to a victory parade. … it’s not” a “war with a simple slogan.” So isn’t it misleading in many ways for Senator McCain to say we are winning and we’ll come home when we have declared victory?
SCHMIDT: Well, absolutely not. Here is what victory means in Iraq. It means an Iraqi government that is able to protect its borders, and it means an Iraqi government that is able to protect its people, then moves forward on its path to democracy. This country was losing this war. Senator McCain stood up to the Bush administration, called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld, risked his political career to advocate a strategy almost by himself that has led us to the edge of victory there.