In the third of three excerpts from tonight's presidential candidate interviews on the CBS Evening News, Sen. John McCain calls Sen. Obama's account of why the surge succeeded a "false account" of history.
Couric: Senator McCain, Senator Obama says, while the increased number of US troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?
McCain: I don't know how you respond to something that is as-- such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn't make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.
They were out there. They were protecting these sheiks. We had the Anbar awakening. We now have a government that's effective. We have a legal system that's working, although poorly. And we have progress on all fronts. Including-- an incredible measure of security for the people of Iraq. There will still be attacks. Al Qaeda's not defeated. But the progress has been immense. And to not recognize that, and why it happened, and how it happened, I think is-- is really quite a commentary.
Couric: A commentary on what?
McCain: That Senator Obama does not understand the challenges we face. And ... not understand the need for the surge. And-- and the fact that he did not understand that, and still denies that it has succeeded, I think the American people will make their judgment. And I think that they will agree with me, that at enormous sacrifice, after four years, nearly four years of failed strategy, we have succeeded. And our troops will come home with honor. And we won't be defeated. And there won't be chaos in the region. There won't be increased Iranian influence in the region. And it will have a bearing on what happens in Afghanistan, as well as the entire region of the world. And I'm proud of what they've done. And to deny their success-- I think is a fundamental misunderstanding of what happened. The American people will make a judgment.