McCain Says No Good Options If Iraq Strategy Fails

Saturday, February 17th 2007, 3:16 pm
By: News On 6

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Presidential contender John McCain said Saturday there aren't any good options if the buildup of U.S. troops doesn't stabilize Iraq.

The Arizona senator said during a campaign stop in Iowa that he'd be hard pressed to find an option that the public would support if the troop increase fails.

``I don't know what the other options are because if we fail here I think it's going to be very difficult to maintain the support of the American people,'' he said. ``And when the American people don't support a war ... then we aren't able to maintain a foreign endeavor.''

McCain, a Republican, supports President Bush's strategy to add 21,500 troops in Iraq to try to end the violence. Polls show widespread opposition to the escalation of military efforts in Iraq, but a majority oppose cutting off funds for the troops.

McCain attended events in Iowa while the Senate voted on an attempt to rebuke President Bush over his military strategy. Republicans foiled the measure by a vote of 56-34, four short of the 60 needed to advance it.

House Democrats prevailed Friday on a nonbinding measure that disapproved of Bush's decision to send more troops and pledged to support and protect the troops.

McCain said nonbinding resolutions on Iraq in the House and Senate are ``insulting to the public and the soldiers'' and that the United States would only defeat extremism with perseverance.

``It may be how Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi construe their responsibilities,'' he said, referring to the Senate majority leader and House speaker, who support resolutions denouncing increased troop levels in Iraq. ``But it's not how I construe mine.

About 375 people attended McCain's first public stop in DesMoines, where questions about Iraq dominated a one-hour question-and-answer session.

His comment about a lack of options in Iraq came in response to a question from the audience.

McCain tied the need for success in Iraq with what he deemed a looming threat in Iran. He dismissed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as someone ``whose name I refuse to learn to pronounce.''

``Those are bad people,'' he said. ``Those are bad people.''

McCain said that some in Iran have tried to reject extremism but that the United States needs to push for democracy. He said he did not think the United States, or anyone in the Bush administration, was girding for war with Iran.

``We've got to help the process of democracy take place in Iran,'' he said. ``But there are some very difficult decisions that have to be made if the Iranians actually acquire a nuclear weapon.''

McCain's trip to Iowa was to also include stops in Cedar Rapids and Davenport later Saturday. McCain did not formally declare his candidacy but spoke as if the decision were simply a formality.

He reiterated that he is running as a ``pro-life conservative'' and was introduced by a slew of prominent conservative backers, including former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, and Maxine Sieleman, the Iowa-based founder of the Concerned Women for America.

Former Iowa Govs. Terry Branstad and Robert Ray were also in attendance, although they have not endorsed a presidential candidate. The two former governors attended a rally for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Tuesday.