McCain says U.S. options limited if Iraq strategy fails

Published February 18, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa - Presidential contender John McCain said Saturday there are no good options if the buildup of U.S. troops doesn't stabilize Iraq.

The Arizona senator said during a campaign stop in Iowa that he'd be hard-pressed to find an option that the public would support if the troop increase fails.

"I don't know what the other options are, because if we fail here I think it's going to be very difficult to maintain the support of the American people," he said. "And when the American people don't support a war ... then we aren't able to maintain a foreign endeavor."

McCain, a Republican, supports President Bush's strategy to add 21,500 troops in Iraq to try to end the violence. Polls show widespread opposition to the escalation of military efforts in Iraq.

McCain attended events in Iowa while the Senate voted on an attempt to rebuke President Bush over his military strategy. Republicans foiled the measure by a vote of 56-34, four short of the 60 needed to advance it.

About 375 people attended McCain's first public stop in Des Moines, where questions about Iraq dominated a question-and-answer session.

His comment about a lack of options in Iraq was in response to a question from the audience.

McCain tied the need for success in Iraq with what he deemed a looming threat in Iran. He dismissed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as someone "whose name I refuse to learn to pronounce."