John McCain has offered a blunt prediction about the presidential race.
The Republican nominee-apparent said Monday that to win the White House, he must convince the country that U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding. If not, said McCain, then, in his words, "I lose."
He quickly backed off that remark. Instead, McCain said Iraq will play a role in voters' judgment of his ability to handle national security.
The Iraq conflict already is emerging as a fault line in the general election, with the Arizona senator calling for the U.S. military to continue its mission while his Democratic opponents urge quick withdrawal.
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