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McCain says Americans will be in Iraq for a long time

ATLANTA — Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Tuesday that American forces are in for a long, difficult stay in Iraq and likened it to the United States’ decades-long presence in South Korea.
    ‘‘I think we’re there for a long, long time,’’ McCain told reporters during a stop at the Georgia Capitol.
    ‘‘We’ve been in South Korea for a long, long time also.’’
    The comments came a day after McCain blasted former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for mismanaging the war in Iraq. McCain said Monday that Rumsfeld would be remembered as one of the worst defense chiefs in the nation’s history.
    Asked if his criticism extended to President Bush for keeping Rumsfeld around as long as he did, McCain said there was plenty of blame to go around.
    ‘‘I am being critical of everybody including all of us who are responsible for mistakes that we’ve made in the war,’’ the Arizona senator said. ‘‘Including myself.’’
    ‘‘I have said many times that I am critical, but the president has the right to choose his team,’’ McCain said.
    McCain paid a visit to the statehouse in Atlanta on Tuesday in an attempt to rally support with Republican state lawmakers. He met also with GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue. He was escorted around the Capitol by Georgia state Republican Party Chairman Alec Poitevint, a McCain supporter, and former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, of Texas.
    With the state Legislature in session, Georgia’s Capitol was crowded and onlookers stopped to gawk at the war hero-turned-senator as he moved by. McCain stopped at one point to have his picture taken with a group of tiara-wearing child beauty queens.
    McCain has been attempting to shore up support among religious conservatives in the Bible Belt and was set to continue a campaign swing in South Carolina later Tuesday.
    Speaking to reporters after a private meeting with Perdue, McCain reaffirmed his opposition to abortion.
    ‘‘I have a 24-year pro-life voting record,’’ McCain said. ‘‘I have always been pro-life and my voting record indicates that.’’
    His visit comes just a day before former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a rival for the Republican nomination, holds a a fund raiser in the Peach State.

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