WASHINGTON (AP) -- Barack Obama is considering a visit to Iraq this summer, his first to the war zone since becoming a presidential candidate.
Obama revealed his plans to The New York Times. He has been under criticism from Republican rival John McCain for failing to visit Iraq since 2006. Obama also declined McCain's invitation for a joint trip.
"I just don't want to be involved in a political stunt," Obama said, according to a report on the newspaper's Web site Wednesday.
"I think that if I'm going to Iraq, then I'm there to talk to troops and talk to commanders," he said in the interview. "I'm not there to try to score political points or perform. The work they're doing there is too important."
Obama's campaign has been considering an overseas trip since last year to beef up his foreign policy credentials, but the extended fight for the Democratic nomination with Hillary Rodham Clinton has delayed those plans.
"A trip is under consideration but no final plans have been made," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Wednesday.
Obama took his only trip to Iraq in January 2006, when he traveled as part of a congressional delegation. McCain has been criticizing him for not returning, and the Republican Party joined the attack Wednesday by launching an online clock to count the days since Obama last visited.
"This is about leadership and learning," McCain said in Nevada, where he was campaigning. "To say that we're failing in Iraq and not succeeding does not comport with the facts on the ground, so we've got to show him the facts on the ground."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.