On CNN’s American Morning earlier today, Kyra Phillips reported that during a recent trip to Baghdad “dozens of Iraqi soldiers and dozens of students at Baghdad university” told her that they “don’t want to see a Republican president.” “Out of every single one that I talked to, one person said they supported John McCain,” said Phillips.
Asked to respond, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who is an ardent supporter of McCain, dismissed what the Iraqis told Phillips as an “unscientific poll.” He claimed that on all the visits he’s made to Iraq, “the Iraqi people on the street, the Iraqi military, the Iraqi government that I’ve talked to, don’t want us to just pick up and leave.”
Lieberman then noted that the Iraqis don’t want the U.S. “to stay there forever,” which he claimed was consistent with McCain’s position on Iraq:
The Iraqi people on the street, the Iraqi military, the Iraqi government that I’ve talked to, don’t want us to just pick up and leave, which is what Sen. Obama, Sen. Clinton have been advocating. They want us, obviously, not to stay there forever. Sen. McCain wants the war to stop and to have us pull back into bases and be on a path, a reasonable path of withdrawal.
As Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) told ThinkProgress last year, congressional trips like Lieberman’s are shrouded in a “Green Zone fog” that makes it hard to get a real sense of the reality on the ground. But, as Phillips noted during her March report from Baghdad, she didn’t have a public affairs official present when she interviewed the soldiers and students, which she says allowed for an “uncensored” and “candid” two-hour discussion.
Additionally, in making the claim that like the Iraqis, McCain doesn’t want us “to stay there forever,” Lieberman completely ignores the fact that McCain has said it is “fine” with him for the U.S. to stay in Iraq for 100 years, which would essentially be forever. Also, while the Iraqi people have rejected permanent U.S. bases in the country, McCain has said they may be “necessary.”