updated 3/29/2007 1:38:44 PM ET 2007-03-29T17:38:44

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has criticized the conduct of the Iraq war, said Wednesday the situation in Iraq is changing under a new commander and strategy.

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And Democratic rival Barack Obama, for one, ought to take notice, the Arizona senator said.

“We are now executing a new counterinsurgent strategy. We have a new general in command who believes in it,” McCain said during a campaign swing in Florida.

President Bush recently put Gen. David Petraeus in charge of his strategy for sending 21,500 troops and thousands of additional military personnel to Iraq in an effort to quell the violence and allow the government to gain its footing.

“If Senator Obama could take a few minutes out of his day to examine the early progress made by General Petraeus, I think he would realize the status quo is changing,” McCain said.

Earlier in the day, Obama, an Illinois senator, said McCain wants an indefinite occupation in Iraq, which Obama said would lead to spending $100 billion a year and thousands of Americans dying while the United States loses its standing in the world.

“I don’t think that serves the best interests of the United States,” Obama said on CNN. “And I don’t think it will ultimately result in the kind of stabilization in Iraq that’s necessary.”

McCain, who spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, declined a chance to criticize actress Jane Fonda for her visits to North Vietnam during the war.

Speaking at a retirement and assisted living community that’s home to many military retirees, he was asked about the actress, who is still a target of veterans because of her Vietnam War protests. Fonda also has protested against the Iraq war.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but she’s re-emerged,” McCain said before turning serious.

“To give visibility to someone — anyone — in America who did some of the things that they did is not dignified, in a way. I think the American people have made a judgment,” he said.

McCain said after the meeting that he had reconciled with most of the anti-war movement.

“There was anger then, but, you know, you can’t waste your time being angry at somebody who obviously, in my view, was very immature. You’ve got to get over these things and move on,” he said. “It’s best to move on. You can’t look back in anger in life. It’s too short.”

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