Susan Davis reports on the presidential race.

Veterans for Freedom will launch a national cable ad Wednesday juxtaposing comments by Gen. David Petraeus on the success of President George W. Bush’s 2007 troop surge in Iraq and comments by Barack Obama opposing the strategy.

The $400,000 ad buy on CNN, FOX and MSNBC comes a day after Petraeus stepped down as top commander of the war.

Petraeus was charged with executing the strategy that is now widely credited with tamping down sectarian violence in Iraq and heading off a civil war. At a change-of-command ceremony today in Saddam Hussein’s former palace, Petraeus lauded U.S. troops for turning “’hard but not hopeless’ into still hard but hopeful,” according to the Associated Press. Gen. Ray Odierno now takes over as the U.S.’s top commander in Iraq.

Veterans for Freedom, a conservative leaning group, already has launched a multi-pronged media and lobbying effort to force Congress to vote on a resolution, cosponsored by John McCain allies Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, “to recognize the strategic success” of the surge.

In an interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly earlier this month, Obama conceded that the strategy succeeded in ways that surprised many critics, including him. “I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” he said, “Look, I’ve already said it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

McCain was one of Congress’s most prominent backers of the surge strategy, which he regularly stresses on the campaign trail.

An August Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll gave McCain a 10-point –46%-36% — advantage when voters were asked who would be better at addressing the situation in Iraq, while 7% said both candidates would be equally good.