Quad-City Times - McCain Talks About War at Bettendorf Rally
By Jennifer DeWitt
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain struck a chord Sunday when he told a group of Quad-City supporters that the new strategy in Iraq is working and setting a withdrawal date is not the answer.
"I believe if we set a date for withdrawal, that is a date for surrender,'' the Arizona senator said at a rally at the Bettendorf home of Carrie and Pete Peterman. He acknowledged Republicans are frustrated and that the war was "badly mismanaged." He shared the same sentiments earlier Sunday while debating in Des Moines.
"We face the greatest challenge of our time and that is the struggle with radical Islamic extremism. We will never surrender - they will," said McCain, a veteran aircraft carrier pilot who served in Vietnam.
McCain spoke to a crowd of more than 150 gathered in the Petermans' backyard. The house party resembled more of a family reunion than a political rally - except for the American flags and McCain political signs all along White Tail Drive.
The evening's hostess, Carrie Peterman, is the sister of Bettendorf native Mark Salter, who was McCain's long-time chief of staff and now serves as senior adviser of his campaign.
Several times, McCain made mention that these are the types of campaign events he loves most "and the best way to win campaigns."
In his remarks, McCain told the crowd the Republicans did not fare well in the last election because "we Republicans lost our way" and allowed spending to get out of control. "Every pork barrel bill that comes across my desk when I'm president, I will veto it," he said to an applauding crowd.