Vets Call on Obama to Admit 'Surge' Worked

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This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," August 26, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, CO-HOST: They say that the surge in Iraq worked. And now, one veterans group wants Barack Obama to recognize that fact.

Video: Watch Megyn Kelly's interview

Today, Vets for Freedom releasing a new ad that will run during both conventions and in the weeks to follow, that features three soldiers who took part in the surge. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1: I'm a sergeant -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2: U.S. Army staff sergeant -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 3: Combat infantry -



UNIDENTIFIED MALE 3: And I am the surge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1: Sen. Barack Obama credits the improvements in Iraq to anything but the surge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 3: But I know the surge worked. I was there. I saw Al Qaeda decimated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2: And watched the Iraqi government grow stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1: Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham have introduced a resolution

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2 : Recognizing the success of the surge.

(CAPTION: "Call Senator Obama (202) 224-2854.)


KELLY: And they want Sen. Obama to sign onto it.

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Joining me now here in Denver is Pete Hegseth. He's chairman for Vets for Freedom, and he returned two weeks ago from a trip to Iraq. Hi, Pete.

PETE HEGSETH, CHAIRMAN, VETS FOR FREEDOM: Hi, Megyn. Thanks for having me.

KELLY: All right. Thanks for being here. So why this ad and why now? Barack Obama has already come out and said that the troops helped - the surge helped reduce the violence. Was that not enough?

HEGSETH: That is not enough. The intent of the surge was to bring about the opportunity for political progress, which has happened on the ground, and which Sen. Obama and many Democrats continue to deny. They deny the fact that the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) government has grown strong enough to provide some basic services for their people and kick out enemy elements from that country.

And we're asking - we're personalizing this. These soldiers in the ad, they are the surge. They saw this. It is not just a strategy. It's not just a policy. There are warriors who fought over there to bring this progress in Iraq. We need to recognize the incredible progress they have made and the political progress the Iraqi government has made.

KELLY: Pete, the Obama campaign would say to you, I think, Obama has recognized the bravery of the troops and the success militarily, but he has been a critic all along of the political progress being made saying that was the whole goal of the surge and since the politicians didn't make it, the political process happened, that why he thinks, you know, the surge wasn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as it could have been. That's me paraphrasing, what is your response to that?

HEGSETH: Megyn, that's completely counterfactual. The Iraqi government has made political progress at the local and the national level. I watched in Samara, the council come together and debate issues like providing sewage, water and electricity for the people. And at the national level, they have passed 18 political benchmarks and the largest Sunni bloc has rejoined the government.

Political progress is happening and he needs to recognize that and thank the troops, not just in passing, but thank them for transforming the situation on the ground in Iraq, and that's what this ad from Vets for Freedom is all about.

KELLY: So, Pete, here in Denver, what do you want Sen. Barack Obama to do? Because last night, there was some criticism of Michelle Obama for not saying more about our men and women in uniform, those fighting on the ground for us in Iraq. A, what do you think of that, and B, what do you think Barack Obama needs to say?

HEGSETH: Well, I think he needs to be more about than just victimizing. We heard a lot from Michelle Obama about her (UNINTELLIGIBLE) victims and it's tough. It's been difficult for the family. Yes, it has been. But let's honor that difficulty, that sacrifice by finishing what we've started by dedicating to this mission and recognizing that we support the troops and the mission.

We think it's intellectually inconsistent to say you support the troops not the mission. I'm a Vikings fan and that's like saying, "I support the Minnesota Vikings but I don't want to see them win the Super Bowl this year."

KELLY: Pete Hegseth, thanks so much for being here. I love having you on.

HEGSETH: Megyn, thanks a lot.

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