McCain told the veterans he supported the surge at a time when doing so entailed serious political risk.
"As I said at the time, I would rather lose an election than lose a war," he said.
McCain suggested Obama opposed the surge because getting out of Iraq was politically popular.
"It was a clarifying moment; it was a moment when political self-interest and the national interest parted ways," McCain said.
Monday it was Obama's turn at the convention; he said that he too took an unpopular position on Iraq.
"In the run up to the invasion of Iraq I warned that the war would fan the flames of extremism in the Middle East, create new centers of terror and tie us down in a costly and open-ended occupation -- Senator McCain predicted that we would be greeted as liberators," Obama said to convention attendees.
Obama also went after McCain for questioning his patriotism.
"That is John McCain's prerogative that he can run that kind of campaign; and frankly, that's how campaigns have been run in recent years," he said, referring to the Bush-Kerry campaign and the political ads aimed at questioning Kerry.
Political ads that question a candidate's commitment to lead have proven effective, but University of California, Berkeley political scientist Henry Brady believes McCain's attack Obama will not sway voters -- in part because it is reminiscent of Bush versus Kerry.
"In fact, right now I think there's a lot of concern among people in the American public about how can we be sober, how can we be careful; we've made mistakes, big mistakes were made, let's not make those mistakes again," Brady said.
A few things have changed since 2004. A majority of people now believe the war in Iraq was a mistake and 80 percent of people believe President Bush has led the country in the wrong direction. Obama will continue to try to tie McCain to Bush and McCain will try to raise doubts about Obama, but reminding voters of the Bush-Kerry campaign will be risky.