McCain tells veterans that Obama is too shy to lead

Republican presidential candidate John McCain told veterans Tuesday that Democrat Barack Obama's opposition to the Iraq war and preference for collective diplomacy over U.S. leadership would create more trouble and aggression in the world.

“The next president must bring to office a clear-eyed view of our nation's role in the world as the defender of the oppressed and a force for peace,” McCain told a convention of the American Legion, a friendly audience for McCain, a former Navy aviator and onetime prisoner of war in Vietnam.

McCain argued that Obama is too shy about leading America to exert itself in world affairs.

“In the end, confusion about such questions only invites more trouble, violence and aggression,” McCain said.

Obama is to address this group today, and his campaign responded quickly.

McCain would continue President Bush's “failed policies which have left America far less secure and shredded our alliances in the world,” Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said. “Barack Obama has called for strong American leadership and renewing strong alliances to finish the fight against al-Qaida and press Russia to live up to its obligations.”

McCain has sought to keep foreign affairs prominent in the campaign debate, because most polls show him with an edge over Obama when voters are asked who is most qualified to be commander in chief. Obama's campaign has increasingly focused on the economy, which polls indicate is the top issue on voters' minds and an area in which he outdistances McCain.

The two candidates sharply diverge over the Iraq war. Obama opposed the war and wants to withdraw U.S. combat troops within 16 months of taking office. McCain pressed for more troops to fight the war and argues that last year's troop surge shows victory is possible and U.S. forces should stay until they achieve it.