Speaking on different Sunday morning talk shows, McCain and Graham both cautioned against sacrificing fragile gains against the Taliban to the mounting anti-war sentiment.
If we accelerate withdrawal right now because we're war-weary, we're going to lose this war, Graham said on NBC's Meet the Press, adding that extremists would kill every moderate who tries to help us without American protection.
McCain echoed that argument, saying on ABC's This Week that to abandon Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban and radical Islamic extremists, I think, would be repeating the mistakes we made before.
Mitt Romney, whom polls have consistently established as the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination, and Jon Huntsman, who boasts perhaps the deepest foreign policy experience of any of the candidates, have both argued that America must extricate itself from a conflict that is unlikely to end. McCain and Graham's comments amounted to a critique of that positioned and could presage a deeper rift in the Republican Party.
I wish that candidate Romney and all the others would sit down with General [David] Petraeus and understand how this counterinsurgency is working and succeeding, McCain said.