- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2013

The White House Friday blasted Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was President Obama’s opponent in 2008, for his tough questioning Thursday of Defense Secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel over the U.S. troop surge in the Iraq war.

White House press secretary Jay Carney reminded reporters that Mr. Obama defeated Mr. McCain for the presidency in 2008, and said history has shown that Mr. Obama exhibited better judgment than the Arizona Republican about the Iraq war.

“In 2008, as I recall, Senator McCain suggested we might have troops in Iraq for a hundred years,” Mr. Carney said. “That’s certainly not a position that President Obama or then-Senator Obama subscribed to. The president promised to end that war, and he did.”

At Mr. Hagel’s confirmation hearing Thursday, Mr. McCain pressed the nominee on his past statement that the 2007 U.S. troop surge in Iraq was a “blunder.” The surge ordered by President George W. bush was credited with stabilizing the security situation, but Mr. Hagel said he couldn’t give Mr. McCain a yes or no answer.

Mr. Carney said the president “fully supports Senator Hagel’s views on this.”

“They were the president’s views,” Mr. Carney said. “They were the views the president expressed when he ran for office in 2008 and won. They were the views that he expressed in a campaign against Senator McCain, who has — who spent most of his time asking about Senator Hagel’s views on Iraq.”

He also said Mr. Obama still believes Mr. Hagel “will make an excellent secretary of defense and that he will be confirmed.”