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6 Feb, 2008 15:05

McCain to face Clinton, Iraq veterans back Ron Paul

After 'Super Tuesday' – the biggest day in the U.S. Presidential primary campaign with 24 states going to the polls – final votes are still being counted.

Senator John McCain has emerged as the biggest winner for the Republicans, winning more than 400 delegates.

But in the excitement of last-minute rallies and record voter turnout, some of the issues in this campaign may have been lost.

The Iraq war is an issue often manipulated for political ends. The right spin on the Iraq war could  help some in their quest for the top job.

But for former U.S. marines, Iraq is a recurring nightmare even back home, miles away from the battlefield.

Iraq veteran Adam Koukesh spent seven months in Iraq in 2004. The Bush administration led coalition invaded the country, claiming Saddam's regime possessed and was actively developing weapons of mass destruction. No weapons were ever found.

But once Saddam was deposed, the presence of the coalition became about helping the Iraqi people build a democracy based on the rule of the law. Instead, Adam says, the outcome was instability, which is difficult to keep at bay.

“Even the worst criminals in Iraq that we catch, who have stuff to do with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and killing Americans. We catch them, we put them in jail and release them in six months,” he said.

Adam says most of what politicians say about Iraq are lies and the only presidential candidate who speaks the truth is Ron Paul.

While boasting considerable support from war veterans, Ron Paul is not a front-runner. Instead, many Republican voters seem to prefer John McCain.

Spreading the message about his experience in Iraq has become Adam's new battle in a fight against a culture of denial. This time the fight is not in a foreign land but on American soil.

Adam's home is now also a public office for any veteran interested in getting involved in anti-war efforts. Adams says he will do everything he can to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and ensure such a war doesn't happen again under the next or any other U.S. presidential administration.

Meanwhile, the Republican favorite John McCain is traveling to Germany this weekend for the NATO summit, despite three more contests on Saturday and next Tuesday.

As Russian political analyst Sergey Kurginyan explains, it signals not that McCain is confident of victory, but rather how he views his role in the presidential election.

“I don’t have the feeling that McCain really wants to be the president. I believe he views his role as an honorable loser. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have suspended the election campaign and he wouldn’t have focused on security. He realises it’s not a major factor in the primaries and all the opinion polls. He should have made the effort to include economic issues in his campaign. He might have stressed some economic targets and created at least some problems for Hillary and Obama. But he’s not acting like this,” Kurginyan says.