ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., argued in San Diego today that just because Sen. John McCain has made multiple visits to Iraq, that does not mean that he has the correct perspective on the region.
"John McCain has been in Congress 25 years, no doubt about that. If this is a longevity measure, then John McCain wins," Obama said to reporters. "I'll recall the visit he made last year in which he was surrounded by helicopters and SWAT teams and came back and reported how safe everything was in Baghdad. You know, I don't think that that was indicative of what was actually happening on the ground at that time."
Obama is heading to Iraq later this month for what will be only his second visit to the country -– compared to McCain’s eight trips.
In response, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds says, ""If Barack Obama believes that visiting Iraq and meeting with commanders will not give him any new perspective, then we can only assume he's going just to smile for the cameras."
Obama shot down the question that the disproportionate number of visits has left him with a lack of knowledge about the region -– citing past positions he's taken about the Iraq war.
"Before we went into Iraq, I knew the difference between Shia and Sunni. Before we went into Iraq, I said that this is going to be an extraordinarily costly endeavor," Obama said. "Before we went into Iraq, I said that we would be bogged down, that it would cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and that it would fan anti-American sentiment and that it would distract us from the war against Afghanistan."
Obama, along with a congressional delegation of Sen. Chuck Hagel and Sen. Jack Reed -- both of whom are veterans -- will visit the region later this month.