TSR: "I'd challenge either candidate who comes here to sit down and give me 20 minutes."
Wolf talks to Michael about the McCain/Obama rumble... and offers a challenge of his own. Personally, I think having the candidates sit down with Michael for a little reality check ought to be a REQUIREMENT!
WOLF BLITZER: And joining us now, our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware -- Michael, what do you make of this to-do that's going on here, whether or not Barack Obama should actually go to Baghdad, see what's going on?
Senator McCain saying, you know, he should go over there and talk to Iraqis, talk to U.S. military and diplomatic leadership over there.
What's your sense of this whole uproar?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to me, honestly, Wolf, it seems like a bit of a storm in a teacup. I mean I have to say from the outset, I'll give respect to any U.S. decision-maker who wants to come and see at least what it is they can see, no matter how narrow that prism is.
However, I'll issue a word of caution, too. I mean Senator McCain has been here, what, more than half a dozen times. And we've seen him get assessments of Iraq terribly wrong. So I wouldn't be hanging my hat on the fact that your opponent has only been here once.
And let's not forget: what do American officials get to see?
Well, they get to see the rooftops of a lot of Iraqi houses as they chopper over them or across vast expanses of desert. They get to see rooms in the inside of U.S. bases and the Green Zone, both of which are divorced from reality. And they'll get inundated with military briefings.
Now, in these briefings, in the past, officials have been told the insurgency was in its death throes, there was no civil war, that Iranian influence wasn't that big a problem, that al Qaeda had been defeated. I mean, you really aren't going to get much of a real picture. It's almost by definition impossible.
And General Petraeus, the commander in the war here, doesn't pull any punches. So you almost could gain as much from having a private chat with him when he was last on Capitol Hill.
Nonetheless, I say, respect to anyone who wants to come here and try. But, really, don't raise your expectations -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You've been there now, what, for some five years.
What would a U.S. leader -- a major senator or presidential candidate or a president, for that matter, really need to do to go over to Iraq and get a sense -- a real understanding and appreciation of what's going on?
A, how long would they have to stay, and how would they be able to do it?
WARE: Well, obviously that's going to be very, very difficult. And I guess, in many ways, they've got to rely on their deputies and lieutenants, because any answer you get is not going to be one without a filter. They're going to be -- they're going to be shaped in one way or another.
Any Iraqi official you talk to is going to play the same old game. They're going to tell the Americans what they think the Americans want to hear. And American commanders have to impress, as well. I mean-- and they'll give as frank an assessment as they can. But so often we've seen, even the American commanders have made miscalculations during this war. And let's not forget, I mean, the strictures of a U.S. official coming here, they're such a grand target.
Now, let's compare that to the visit of the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad. He announces a visit weeks in advance, didn't come in secret. He drove from the airport, didn't chopper. He stayed outside the Green Zone overnight and he walked the streets of Baghdad. And he didn't have 100 American troops around him, like Senator McCain.
So it's going to be extraordinarily difficult for them to ever get a real picture. Perhaps, for example some other people -- I'd be more than willing. I'd challenge either candidate who comes here to sit down and give me 20 minutes. And I speak to the insurgents, I speak to the militias, I speak to the Iranians, and I speak to the Iraqi officials in their private moments.
Let's have a shot at it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Maybe they'll just do that.
Michael, thanks very much.
WARE: Thank you, Wolf.