The beginning of tit-for-tat with Obama and McCain

To me, at least, the daily back and forth between McCain and Obama is getting boring already. It’s silly statements they’re arguing over. The latest is a statement that McCain made which Obama, and others, dispute.

Here’s a report from AOL News:

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Republican John McCain’s estimate of U.S. troop levels in Iraq touched off squabbling with Democrat Barack Obama on Friday, the latest turn in the presidential rivals’ escalating disagreement over the war.

The likely GOP nominee told an audience Thursday: “We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet.”

Obama responded: “That’s not true and anyone running for commander in chief should know better.”

In fact, U.S. troop levels are not yet down to levels before President Bush’s troop increase last year, a strategy shift McCain had pushed for some four years before the president authorized it.

There were 15 combat brigades in Iraq before the increase began. Five were added, and the United States has been reducing numbers since December. As of Friday, there are 17 brigades in Iraq, another brigade will depart in June and the plan is to pull out another in July, returning the level to 15.

Before the increase, there were 130,000-135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. As of this week, that number was 155,000, and the Pentagon plans to drop that to 140,000 by the end of July.

The McCain campaign blamed a parsing of verb tense and semantics. But McCain, himself, insisted Friday that he didn’t misspeak.

“Of course not. I said we’ve drawn down,” the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said at a news conference. “The rest of them will be home at the end of July.”

He added: “We have drawn down, we will continue to draw down and I hope that General (David) Petraeus will see fit to recommend for the consideration of the president of the United States an additional draw down after the end of July.”

Obama seized on McCain’s insistence that he didn’t misspeak. “Today, Senator McCain refused to acknowledge that he had made a mistake,” Obama said at a rally Friday in Great Falls, Mont. “Just like George Bush, when he was presented with the truth, he just dug in and refused to admit his mistake.”

Video of McCain defending his statement:

This is going to be a long campaign if the argument is over issues such as this. In fact, I’m dreading most of the season until they get to actual debates in August between Obama and McCain. Until then, it will be this tit-for-tat in the press. Obama will say something, McCain will dispute it, and vice-versa. Maybe that’s what campaigns are about but it’s boring to me as I’d like to see the actual issues debated and where each of the candidate stands on them.

Maybe I’m overreacting, what did you all think, is this blown out of proportion? Clearly McCain seems to be mistaken on this, but if he is, it doesn’t change either candidate’s stance on Iraq.