* McCain predicts surge in attacks in Iraq
* Says they will coincide with US election
* Comments made as Barack Obama heads to Iraq
Republican White House hopeful John McCain has predicted a surge of militant attacks in Iraq around the time of the US election in November.
"I predict they will make an attempt as we get in to the election season to make more of these spectacular kinds of attacks, which they're still capable of doing," Senator McCain said.
"The suicide bombers, etcetera, would not surprise me and we've already found out they're going to try and step up their attacks and try and do things in a more spectacular fashion so they can erode the support of the (Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-) Maliki government."
Senator McCain also said his Democratic rival Barack Obama would be in Iraq "today or tomorrow".
Senator Obama is expected to visit Iraq soon, but his campaign has not released details of the trip.
Iraq visits by US officials are usually kept secret until arrival.
"I believe that either today or tomorrow - and I'm not privy to his schedule - Senator Obama will be landing in Iraq with some other senators," Senator McCain said.
"I am sure Senator Obama is going to arrive in Baghdad in a much, much safer and secure environment than the one he would've encountered before we started the surge," he added, referring to 30,000 extra US troops sent in last year.
Senator Obama is to visit Iraq and Afghanistan but details have not been released for security reasons.
Senator McCain also lost a key staffer yesterday with the resignation of Phil Gramm as co-chair of his campaign after he called the United States a "nation of whiners".
"It is clear Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues," Mr Gramm said. "To end this distraction and get on with the real debate, I hereby step down as co-chair."
Gramm, a former Texas senator, ignited the furore in a newspaper interview this month when he said the United States still had a dominant economy, despite fears of a recession.
"You've heard of mental depression, this is a mental recession," he said. "We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."