August 24th, 2007
09:17 AM ET
12 years ago

Obama takes issue with Iraqi leader debate

Watch CNN's Don Lemon interview Obama Thursday.

DILLON, South Carolina (CNN) - White House hopeful Barack Obama called the debate over the competency of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a "distraction" Thursday, a day after rival Hillary Clinton called for the embattled leader's removal.

"I think this is a distraction - this whole notion of 'is Maliki the right guy?'" Obama told CNN's Don Lemon. "We can replace Maliki with four, five other guys, but if the underlying political dynamic is not changing, then we will not see progress in Iraq."

On Wednesday afternoon, Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement calling for the ouster of the prime minister, saying, "The Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement, because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders."

In the interview with CNN, Obama also seemed to echo Clinton's controversial comments from earlier in the week that the surge was "working" in some areas, but reiterated his position that the U.S. should begin an "orderly withdrawal" from the country.

"We know that our troops are performing well under the surge and there has been a temporary reduction in violence,” he said. “But we also know that none of the Iraqi factions have taken seriously the need to come to political accommodation, and we can't create a stable Iraq until that happens - which is why I believe that we need to - more than ever - initiate the kind of responsible, orderly withdrawal that will trigger a change in behavior on the part of the factions.”

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. asensibleperson, Columbus, OH

    Hey spinstopper, you sit there an accuse Barack of not understanding that a democratic system is already in place in Iraq? Listen to what he is saying; he is alluding to the role religion plays in this democratic government and how replacing al Maliki will make no difference with such powerful, unchangeable variables in place. He realizes that replacing al Maliki would not change a single thing except destabilize Iraq further. Once again, where Clinton will rant and rave nonsensically just to get her soundbite, Barack actually employs, dare I say it, COMMON SENSE.

    August 24, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. tony, Mount Vernon, NY

    Funny, just yeaterday or the day before you all were slamming Hillary for pointing out the successes in Iraq, but still calling for a withdrawal to ensure the Iraqs start standing up. Now Obama imitates her and you hail him a straight-talker.

    Now he's talking about parental involvement and funding schools. I guess he read Hillary's "It Takes a Village" and listened to some of her speeches as First Lady about funding education, improving schools, making pre-k manadatory and college education tax deductable.

    Go Obama! I guess if you can't beat them, you just copy them.

    August 24, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. AndY J., Upstate, NY

    "We can replace Maliki with four, five other guys, but if the underlying political dynamic is not changing, then we will not see progress in Iraq."

    Obama doesn't seem to get the fact the Iraq has a democratically elected government now. Isn't that the job of "the people" in a democracy? Why is a do nothing Senator from the sorriest US Congress in history expecting more than he's given from a fledgling democratic government in Iraq? POLITICS??

    Posted By spinstopper : August 24, 2007 10:18 am"

    I think you are missing his point, amigo. He was responding to Mrs. Clinton's remarks that Maliki should be ousted... Obama was correct in saying that Maliki is not the problem, and the problem would still exist no matter who the leader. Your comment about Maliki being democratically elected has no relevance in the conversation, because the FACT that he was democratically elected was never disputed.

    August 24, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. Vince, Los Angeles

    Anyone who questions Barak Obama's consistency and COMMON SENSE on the Iraq war situation really should check out this link (http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/iraq/)

    This man is the BEST candidate for president HANDS DOWN...Hillary will be just MORE OF THE SAME OL B.S.

    08AMA for President

    August 24, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. John Swanson Chicago

    Hey look! My post came back! And who said CNN was biased! It's not biased, it's merely uncredible, like the New York Post!

    The only reason Obama looks good is cause the big whigs werent smart enough to be able to spin this one.

    August 24, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. Tom, Austin, Tx.

    Obama nails the issue and Hillary just takes whatever position is going to make her look best. Folks, the Republicans want Hillary as their opposition! She is too unelectable and they will capitalize big time on that.

    For a good description of the situation in Iraq, I recommend the following interview with Nir Rosen:

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/21/1349252

    Think 60 years ago (Palestinians) and think about the Iraqi refugee situation going on now. So much for Bush's (lame) reasoning that a Democratic Iraq will lead to stability in the middle east.

    August 24, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Posted By Mike: "The Electoral College has created these stupid situations in a few states. I think it is time to abolish the EC in favor of the popular vote winner."

    The entire population of the state of Mississippi is 2.9 million. The population of the entire state of Arkansas is 2.8 million. The population of the entire state of Louisiana is 4.2 million.

    The population of just New York City alone is 8.1 million. It takes three complete southern states to trump the voting power of this one northern city.

    The electoral college is a part of the U.S. Constitution. It is in place to ensure large populace areas do not dictate law to low population rural areas. If the election was based solely on population the candidates would spend their time in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix. Those are the top 5 population areas. The Iowa straw poll would never take place because their population is too low.

    States like Alaska and Montana with populations less than 1 million would never have a voice in choosing the President. This is why the electoral college is so important and why our forefathers wrote the system into the fabric of our Constitution.

    Abraham Lincoln won the presidency with less than 40% of the popular vote.

    The thing that struck me most by Obama's interview was his comment about replacing the leader of Iraq with any number of people. And here I thought the Iraqi government was a democracy where the Iraqi people choose their leader.

    Say Obama gets elected as our President. How would we in the United States feel if the government of China decided they don't like Obama's views and had heated discussions about replacing him with someone who supports Chinese policy?

    August 24, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    Obama rocks, but can he ROCK and Roll?

    August 24, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Andy J., Upstate, NY

    How can you not like this man? He's the most believable candidate i've ever seen. I agree with all those who have said that he is a creative problem solver... who has great vision and judgement. Calling for the ousting of Maliki is such politically motivated move.

    Hey i have an idea: Lets take Hill's advice and boot Maliki and get someone else in there. Then we will see that she is just another power-hungry politician with a non-sense answer to gain political points in order to become president. What a bum. Obama recognized the overall problem, whereas Hillary doesn't quite seem to get it.

    August 24, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Hey "spinstopper " I agree with you that about the tone/word choice for removing Maliki. I think that it is a bad idea for any of our elected officials to suggest we can pick and choose who runs Iraq. The fact is though, we did. It's true, and Obama was speaking the truth. It just sounds bad.

    There was no democratic election in Iraq or Afghanistan. Don't get it twisted. If you truly think that there was a fair and accurate election in Iraq, you are really naive. If you think that elections a fair and accurate in the US, then you don't do research. The reality is this: Maliki is our boy and the only reason he's in the position, is by the choice of GWB (Rove, Cheney, Wolfowitz etc).

    Hey, by the way, news flash, we're not there for democracy, we're there for oil... and there's no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy.

    August 24, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. Columbus, OH

    Hey spinstopper, you sit there an accuse Barack of not understanding that a democratic system is already in place in Iraq? Listen to what he is saying; he is alluding to the role religion plays in this democratic government and how replacing al Maliki will make no difference with such powerful, unchangeable variables in place. He realizes that replacing al Maliki would not change a single thing except destabilize Iraq further. Once again, where Clinton will rant and rave nonsensically just to get her soundbite, Barack actually employs, dare I say it, COMMON SENSE.

    August 24, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Rob

    Barack The Vote In 08! He the best of them all!

    August 24, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. David, Los Angeles, CA

    All the Clinton haters who were bashing Hillary for telling the truth about the surge...where are they now that Obama has said THE SAME THING??? Hypocrites.

    August 24, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  14. Joshua, Omaha NE

    Don is panting a bit, I love him, but bring it down a notch 🙂 No one does not realize, he butches it up sometimes and queens out with the girls!

    Obama is awesome!

    August 25, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. Zhonni, Nashville. TN

    Obama does make sense. He does understand the problems that we face in the world of today. I hope he wins and bring the country together.

    There are too many enemies outside of the U.S. for us to make enemies of ourselves.

    August 26, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Brian, San Diego, CA

    I'm confused why our politicians think it is our right to decide who leads another country, especially one we want to see as a democracy. We can't just preach democracy when it fits our own personal agenda.

    August 26, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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