US Republican presidential candidate on fact-finding mission to Iraq.
The Democrats were quick to jump on the mistake by McCain, a strong supporter of the 2003 invasion and last year’s troop build-up in Iraq.
“After eight years of the Bush administration’s incompetence in Iraq, McCain’s comments don’t give the American people a reason to believe that he can be trusted to offer a clear way forward,” Karen Finney, Democratic national committee communications director, said.
Brian Rogers, McCain’s spokesman, said that the Republican candidate “mis-spoke and immediately corrected himself”.
“Democrats have launched political attacks today because they know the American people have deep concerns about their candidates’ judgment and readiness to lead as commander-in-chief,” he said.
After a visit Iraq on Monday, McCain said it would be a “mistake” to pull troops out of Iraq too quickly.
“The victors in that would be the extremists, and America would lose its credibility,” he said. “Al-Qaeda and the Iranian extremists would be the winners.”