A three-way presidential candidate catfight

McCain, Romney and Obama exchange a series of increasingly nasty press releases about Obama's vote on the Iraq supplemental funding bill.

Published May 25, 2007 6:38PM (EDT)

It's always nice to have a little diversion to lead us into that first unofficial weekend of summer, and fortunately, some of our presidential candidates are doing their best to oblige. Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney have been trading press releases back and forth with Democrat Barack Obama today, on the subject of Obama's vote against the Iraq war supplemental funding bill. By now, the tone is approaching something that could probably best be described as downright catty.

The fun started with a press release from McCain, which included a statement from the Arizona senator that said:

I was very disappointed to see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton embrace the policy of surrender by voting against funds to support our brave men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This vote may win favor with MoveOn and liberal primary voters, but it's the equivalent of waving a white flag to al Qaeda.

Minutes later, Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, jumped on the bandwagon, releasing a statement reading:

At a time when the men and women of our military fighting terrorism around the globe needed them most, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cast a vote that singularly defines their lack of leadership and serves as a glaring example of an unrealistic and inexperienced worldview on national security that is regrettably shared by too many of their fellow Capitol Hill Democrats.

Voting against our troops during a time of war shows the American people that the leaders of the Democrat Party will abandon principle in favor of political positioning.

Their votes render them undependable in the eyes of the men and women of the United States military and the American people.

Apparently, Obama's camp felt the first-term Illinois senator couldn't take all this lying down. So within a few hours, he released a statement that said:

This country is united in our support for our troops, but we also owe them a plan to relieve them of the burden of policing someone else's civil war. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe the course we are on in Iraq is working, but I do not.

And if there ever was a reflection of that it's the fact that Senator McCain required a flack jacket, 10 armored Humvees, two Apache attack helicopters, and 100 soldiers with rifles by his side to stroll through a market in Baghdad just a few weeks ago.

Governor Romney and Senator McCain are still supporting a war that has cost us thousands of lives, made us less safe in the world, and resulted in a resurgence of al-Qaeda. It is time to end this war so that we can redeploy our forces to focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and all those who plan to do us harm.

The most recent statement, out just a little while ago, is from McCain, who attacked Obama's lack of experience and then really went for the low blow -- he pointed out a typo.

While Senator Obama's two years in the U.S. Senate certainly entitle him to vote against funding our troops, my service and experience combined with conversations with military leaders on the ground in Iraq lead me to believe that we must give this new strategy a chance to succeed because the consequences of failure would be catastrophic to our nation's security.

By the way, Senator Obama, it's a "flak" jacket, not a "flack" jacket.

Ouch. We're going to go grab some popcorn and wait to see if another statement comes out anytime soon; we'll be sure to keep you updated.

Update: Oh, no, he didn't! According to The Politico's Jonathan Martin, a McCain aide also had this to say about Obama:

"Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong."

We may be enjoying this too much -- if that's even possible.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz. Mitt Romney