July 3rd, 2008
03:58 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama denies altering proposed Iraq withdrawal timeline

Obama denies any shift in his Iraq policy.
Obama denies any shift in his Iraq policy.

FARGO, North Dakota (CNN) – Democrat Barack Obama denied Thursday any suggestion he's shying away from his proposed 16-month phased withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq, calling it "pure speculation" and adding that his "position has not changed" - shortly before telling reporters questioning his stance that he will "continue to refine" his policies as warranted.

"We're planning to visit Iraq," the presumptive Democratic nominee said, referring to his recently-announced trip scheduled for later this summer. "I'm going to do a thorough assessment when I'm there."

Asked if that means he is, in fact, open to options that would not include the removal of all combat troops within 16 months, the Illinois senator did not respond directly, but only said he will continue to "gather information."

"I mean we can chase this around, you know, for a long time," he continued in a press conference in Fargo, North Dakota.

"What I've said repeatedly is that my goal is to end this conflict in a responsible way as quickly as possible. My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything I've said, was always premised on making sure that our troops were safe."

According to Obama's campaign website he would remove brigades at a pace of one to two per month and have "all [United States] combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months."

But on April 10 he told an Indiana crowd it may take "16 months to two years" to remove combat troops. In recent speeches, he's left out the phrase "16 months" entirely.

Pressed as to why that's been the case, the White House hopeful first laughed, then told reporters it's because he's been "focused on the economy."

Regardless, his economic theme in the last month has not prevented him from occasionally talking Iraq — and when he does, he has not brought up specific timetables.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. km

    Why can't a candidate just say, I have to give that some more thought and research and yes, I may change my mind. And if they do change their minds, just tell us why. No big deal. I'm ok with the change on oil drilling now that we need it. Circumstances change, our leaders should be able to roll with that.

    July 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Dave, Illinois

    Don't worry Obamites. This is only a lie to fool the silent majority from voting for McCain. If he gets in office, he will destroy the progress in Iraq to make his far-left taskmasters happy. Don't you worry.

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. Jose

    Barack Obama said many months ago that his plan was to bring to troups home in 16 months. That has never changed.

    I am amazed that the media, with a huge archive of film, cannot go back to earlier films to prove that Obama has always said it would be a total of 16 months. In fact, I heard him say 16 months on CNN. So why can't CNN confirm this on TV by going to their archives? Is is to sell the story? The facts are there.

    I am a Republican and if anyone is flip-flopping it is McCain.

    Jose' – Texas

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. Loretta from California

    just bring them home safely, and as soon as possible. That's all I ask.

    DEMOCRATS UNITE!!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. Jack

    obama you are a FRAUD – a Flip – Flop!
    OBama says whatever he has to for his own political gain.
    This guy is NOT qualified to lead us – he is too vague – all a stage show. What is the DNC thinking picking this guy????

    July 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Candy West Virginia

    Fact: Obama has NEVER changed his stance on withdrawing 1 or 2 combat brigades a month after he gets into office which should take about 16 months and I wish repuglicans would quit lying on him. THe entire plan is on his website and has been. He HAS NEVER WAVERED ON THAT. Now john mcwar on the other hand, I don't think I have ever heard a plan from him other than keeping them there as long as necessary, maybe even 100years. Has anybody else? I'm dying to know.

    July 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. EN

    Knew it all along ... He is a talker and not a doer. The only candidate who screwed up was Hillary. The only candidate who would have fixed this was Hillary. Wait until he gets into the WH. Simple the primary voters were never paying attention.

    I wonder what the Kerrys, Kennedys, Pelosi's, Randi, Stephanies and all other peace lovers have to say about the BO – he certainly is shifting is position gradually rather than making a U-turn.

    July 3, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. not important

    Important thing is to make sure that Iraq will not be another South Vietnam.

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. Nick - Arlington, VA

    he didnt change his position...he is saying what he has always said...be careful getting out and listen to the commanders on the ground....i do not see what they flip-flop is?

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. charles

    and???.media pressing a dead end.pathetic.

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Judgment over experience

    16 mos to 2yrs is a heck of alot better than no plan at all (mccain) or the possibility of 100 yrs. I'll take Obama's plan over the warmongers any day.

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. ho tc

    "What a surprise!"
    He's been changing his positions even since he wrapped up the nomination.

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Daniel

    This is inexperience. He haa a clean slate.

    July 3, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. ellen

    Just one of the many reasons that it is hard to believe or trust Obama.
    Just another politician. We lost the best candidate. Hillary.

    July 3, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Mark

    The goal is the same.. withdraw from Iraq as quickly and as safely as possible.

    If Obama, as president, learns that they must slow down that pace for the safety of the troops, who would object?

    People are acting as if he went from pulling out of Iraq to doing what McCain wants, a permanent occupation.

    Stop with all the political drama.

    July 3, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. Veteran for McCain

    "My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything I've said, was always premised on making sure that our troops were safe."

    Ok, let's analyze this comment. The first statement "What I've said repeatedly is that my goal is to end this conflict in a responsible way as quickly as possible. " Isn't this what McCain and Bush want as well? You can take McCain's 100 yr comment out of context all you want, but he was mentioning it as he will be there for as long as we NEED to be there, not a second longer.

    Now, "My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything I've said, was always premised on making sure that our troops were safe." Ok, well first the troops are never really safe while in a war-time environment, right? I think the GOP will corner him into either saying he's sticking with his 16 month timeline (which will please the LIBS) or get him to say their is no timeline for a withdrawal, either way it's a win/win for the GOP. He'll alienate some large group of people with his decision.

    July 3, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Minnesota against Johnny McSame

    BO,

    Don't do it. Don't lose your brand because of whoever is pushing you to the center. Be clear in what you are saying. This is your time but you need to grab it with both hands.

    July 3, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. Annie

    It certainly does sound like a different tune than before he got the nomination. Now he is talking about maybe one or two brigades a month UNLESS there are problems and then he can slow it down. And what does he mean by a "counter terrorism strike force" that he plans on leaving that he said on CNN TV? And when the generals say it isn't the time to withdraw, what does he do then...probably the same as Bush has done.. Is there anything left he ran on that is the same as he is saying now? Republicans will say he has now out flip flopped John Kerry and they will probably be right.

    July 3, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Edith Arkansas

    It seem to me a plan to start withdrawing troops in Iraq is viable as Barack Obama is planning to do. I don't see how the need to keep a host of troops in Iraq is necessary for the safety of the United States after all it was not Iraq who brought the attack on the Trade Center in New York. This is a far fetch stretch to use the excuse on keeping our troops in Iraq they went from Afganistan leaving Ben Laden without apprehension . I strongly believe there is another reason for keeping our troops in Iraq other than what they are telling us. It makes no sense.

    July 3, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Susan, Orlando

    Well, well, well...guess he really is just a politician and not the Messiah! Looks like we will be in Iraq for quite a while longer. All you groupies who were duped and believed that he wasn't like the "others", watch closely as he morphs.

    July 3, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. Ms. Sims

    The MSM is driving me insane!!! He has been saying the same thing as long as he's been running. I'm actually glad to have somebody who will look at the FACTS then make a STRATEGIC plan to get us out of Iraq. Following aimlessly has us on the path we are now, the path that McCain wants to drive us down. Why does every story have to be spinned? What happened to just reporting the news?

    July 3, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Chryssa

    Wow, they're working hard to get something on this guy. I don't think it's going to happen – he's our man.

    OBAMA '08!

    July 3, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  23. db

    Public campaign financing, gun control, free trade – now withdrawal from Irag. The list just keeps growing.

    July 3, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. interesting

    Looks like a flip flop to me

    July 3, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. Janice

    OBAMA = A FRAUD AND A LIAR !

    July 3, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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