Obama Dismisses Joint Trip Invite By McCain as Political Stunt

Sen. Barack Obama is considering a trip to Iraq before the November elections, the Illinois Democrat said Wednesday.

Obama told the New York Times that his campaign was considering a trip overseas after he secures the Democratic presidential nomination and that “Iraq would obviously be at the top of the list of stops.”

Details of the trip are yet to be worked out, he told the Times.

Obama said he was considering visiting Iraq after Sen. John McCain had suggested that the two should make a joint trip to the country, a proposal Obama dismissed on Tuesday as “nothing more than a political stunt.”

“I think that if I’m going to Iraq, then I’m there to talk to troops and talk to commanders, I’m not there to try to score political points or perform,” Obama told the newspaper. “The work they’re doing there is too important.”

McCain Wednesday night said he is happy his likely general election opponent is considering a trip and believes that Obama would change his views on Iraq after spending some time there.

“It’s long overdue,” McCain said during a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, California. “It’s been 871 days since he was there, and I’m confident that when he goes he will then change his position on the conflict in Iraq because he will see the success that has been achieved on the ground.”

McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, and his fellow Republicans have strongly criticized Obama for not visiting Iraq since January 2006. The Republican National Committee has a running count of the days since his last trip to the country on its Web site.

“Senator Obama has been to Iraq once — a little over two years ago he went — and he has never seized the opportunity except in a hearing to meet with Gen. Petraeus,” McCain said at a campaign event in Reno, Nevada. “My friends this is about leadership and learning.

“He wants to sit down with the president of Iran but hasn’t yet sat down with Gen. Petraeus, the leader of our troops in Iraq?” McCain said.

Gen. David Petraeus is the top U.S. commander in Iraq and will soon be promoted to the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East.

McCain has criticized Obama for expressing a willingness to engage Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in diplomatic negotiations.

The Arizona Republican said Obama’s rejection of his proposal for joint trip showed “a fundamental misunderstanding of the gravity of this issue.”

The rest of this article can be read @ CNN.com

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