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McCain Cites Difficult Decisions in History and Iraq

John McCain's newest book is called Hard Call, about the difficult decisions that have been made throughout history by figures including Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Harry Truman. The Republican senator and presidential candidate has made some hard calls of his own, including, most recently, his firm support for the Iraq war.

One of the stories in the book, co-authored with Mark Salter, is of a fellow prisoner in Vietnam and the decision he had to make.

Shot down and wounded by the North Vietnamese, Air Force Maj. George "Bud" Day made his way across the jungle for 13 days, until he could see an American base. It was night, and Day had two choices: Run for it and risk getting shot by his countrymen in the dark. Or wait until dawn and risk being caught by the Viet Cong.

McCain says it's a classic example of a hard call.

"He decided to wait til the next morning, and before he could make that last dash to freedom, he was spotted by some North Vietnamese and he tried to hide and they came upon him," McCain says. Day was captured.

"He made the right decision; [it] just didn't turn out right," McCain tells Renee Montagne.

Another example of a "hard call" in McCain's book was President Truman, who championed civil rights when that position could have doomed his re-election prospects.

"Harry Truman was not the greatest intellect to inhabit the White House, but he had the right instincts and frankly he had the humility and inspiration to recognize that you have to suborn your personal ambitions for the greater good," McCain says.

McCain also writes about one of his own decisions — one that he says he knew to be wrong. During the 2000 presidential primaries, he refused to condemn the flying of the Confederate flag atop the statehouse in South Carolina.

"I'd call that a hard call that I didn't make," McCain says. "The hard call would have [been to say], 'This flag is an affront to people all over America as well as in South Carolina and it's not right to be there. I should have made the hard call."

More recently, McCain has continued to support the war in Iraq despite opposition to the war by much of the public and even some Republican colleagues in the Senate.

"Every bit of knowledge and instinct, awareness and confidence that I have makes me believe absolutely that setting a date for withdrawal will result in chaos and genocide in the region, and we will then have to call on young Americans to make even greater sacrifices," he says.

McCain says the current military strategy is finally working.

"I want us out, too," he says. "But I have said on a number of occasions that I would rather lose a campaign than lose a war."

"This military, this Guard and Reserve are badly overstretched, but they are winning and I believe that they will, if given the time to do so," McCain adds. "Come next spring, I think decisions will probably need to be made, depending on our troop levels and depending on the success. But I think it's long and hard and difficult."

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