McCain to speak at VMI
Senator says he will make a "major policy speech"
By Kiltie Tompkins and Mary Childs
Senator John McCain will deliver a "major policy speech" about the war in Iraq on April 11 at VMI.
Just before his trip to Iraq, McCain reiterated his support for U.S. involvement and military presence in Iraq last week in a statement on the Senate floor.
"You might not know it from reading newspapers or watching the evening news, but in Iraq today there are real signs that the new strategy is working," he said.
Aids told the NY Times that McCain will encourage Americans to continue to support the war, and will also emphasize that the recent troops escalation has met some success. He says Americans don't have the "full picture" of what's going on in Iraq, and that the media only shows the set-backs, and never the successes.
"The enemy knows how attention-getting car bombs are, and their strategy reflects this understanding," he said.
McCain had scheduled the announcement of his bid for the Presidency for April 11, but rescheduled for his team to rework his campaign financing. The talk follows his much-publicized April 1 stroll through a Baghdad market, wearing a bullet-proof vest and surrounded by a troop of body guards--including three helicopters and two gunships. McCain said he felt safer in Baghdad than in parts of the United States.
Lt. Col. Stewart MacInnis, VMI contact, could offer no insight as to why McCain's chosen military institutes for his speeches. He added that McCain will have lunch with the superintendent and a number of cadets from Arizona before flying out.
Last month, the Arizona Senator voted down the proposed timeline for withdrawal, which would have troops out of Iraq by the end of March, 2008.
"Withdrawing before there is a stable and legitimate Iraqi authority would turn Iraq into a failed state, in the heart of the Middle East. We have seen a failed state emerge after U.S. disengagement once before, and it cost us terribly," McCain said. "If we leave Iraq based on an artificial timetable, al Qaeda will be free to plan, train for and conduct operations from Iraq just as they did from Afghanistan. We cannot make this fatal mistake twice."
Demonstrating the progress in Iraq, he cited the decrease in execution-style sectarian killings, new security posts, the capture of Al Qaeda operatives in Mosul, the destruction of car bomb factories and other promising developments.
The VMI speech is the first of three policy speeches, with an April 16th talk in Memphis, Tenn. on domestic spending and trade, and another on April 23 regarding other national issues.
To kick off his presidential campaign, McCain will start in New Hampshire on April 25th, stop in South Carolina and Iowa, and end in Arizona on the 27th.
McCain's finances have been a subject of concern, lagging behind other candidates with only three fund-raisers in January and February. His new revamped fundraising schedule will slightly resemble that of Bush's during his presidential campaign.
Produced by Washington and Lee journalism students.
Lead supervisor: Prof. Claudette Artwick
Technical supervisor: Michael Todd