Senators Regret Remarks on Troops

March 2, 2007 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

By ADAM NAGOURNEY NY TIMES

Published: March 2, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 1 — They come from different parties and have opposite views on what should be done in Iraq. But both Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama have now had to express regret for saying that American lives have been “wasted” in battle.

Mr. McCain, the Arizona Republican who has been a big supporter of the war and has backed President Bush’s call for more troops, made his remarks Wednesday in an appearance on “Late Show With David Letterman” while criticizing the White House’s management of the war.

“Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be,” he said. “We’ve wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives, over there.”

Mr. Obama, the Illinois Democrat who has been a critic of the war from the start, made a similar remark in a visit to Iowa after announcing his candidacy. “We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged, and to which we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted,” he said.

Mr. McCain was criticized on Thursday by the Democratic National Committee for making the remark, just as Mr. Obama had been criticized by conservative groups.

“How is it that John McCain now believes American lives are being wasted, yet he so stubbornly supports the president’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq and put more American lives in harm’s way?” asked Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the Democratic committee.

Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama responded to the criticisms the same way: by recanting remarks they said they regretted.

“I should have used the word ‘sacrificed,’ as I have in the past,” Mr. McCain said. “No one appreciates and honors more than I do the selfless patriotism of American service men and women in Iraq.”

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