COURIC: Senator McCain, Sen. Obama says, while the increased number of U.S. troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?
McCAIN: I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane (phonetic) was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik* and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history.
McCain, January 5, 2007 (Two weeks before Bush announced sending additional troops to Iraq):
"Too often the light at the tunnel has turned out to be a train, but I really believe -- I really believe that there's a strong possibility that you may see a very substantial change in Anbar province due to this new changes in our relationships with the sheiks in the region. ... But it's important, as I said in my opening remarks, that this troop surge be significant and sustained. Otherwise, don't do it."
So he acknowledges the changed relationship being important before the so-called "surge".
*Oops (thanks to commenter Stony Pillow for reminding me)
(fez tip to Mark Nikolas)