WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain says Democrat Barack Obama is wrong about the Iraq war.


But Obama's campaign says McCain was wrong about the war's timeline during a nationally televised interview Tuesday.

Asked about Obama's contention that a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida combined with the addition of thousands of U.S. combat troops that were sent to Iraq contributed to the improved security situation there, McCain scoffed.

"I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened," McCain told "CBS Evening News," adding that Col. Sean MacFarland was contacted by a major Sunni sheik.

"Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening," McCain said, referring to the U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Anbar province. "I mean, that's just a matter of history."

The problem with McCain's statement — as Obama's campaign quickly noted — was that the awakening got under way before President Bush announced in January 2007 his decision to flood Iraq with tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to help combat violence.

In March 2007, before the first of the additional troops began arriving in Iraq, Col. John W. Charlton, the American commander responsible for Ramadi, a city in Anbar province, said the newly friendly sheiks, combined with an aggressive counterinsurgency strategy and the presence of thousands of new Sunni police on the streets, had helped cut attacks in the city by half in recent months.

(with wire sources)

This video is from CBSNews.com, broadcast July 23, 2008.


Download video