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. Chris

    I'm shocked. Just shocked. You mean Senator Obama really is just another politician who's susceptible to political expediency and not our messiah/Bobby Kennedy reincarnate?

    Strangely enough, this piece of news seems to be getting little traction. Imagine the outrage if Senator Clinton had made a similar move...! I have a feeling that the Obama-philes would not sit idly then (and I would not be the first person commenting).

    July 3, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. Tyrone

    No he didn't alter his stance on Iraq but I am sure CNN would like for us to take the bait and turn this into a big issue.

    CNN we're onto your little game where you play devils advocate while ignoring all the real issues. Shame on you!!!

    Obama 08

    July 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. JR

    Barack I support you and I will continue to support and vote for you, but when it comes to the war that's on millions of Americans minds, don't reply with a laugh ok? War is not a laughing matter.

    July 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. 4obama

    p.s. has anyone else noticed how CNN closes the comments of stories related to McCain so fast but will have 1,003 post about a fist bump...that tells me that they must be getting so many comments they can post about McCain from allllll of the Americans who want change and know it is coming. so i guess we will have to prey for all of those hateful Obama haters...but only until November.

    July 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. James in Ohio

    Seems to me and many others the only change we can believe in is Obama changing his mind.

    Just say no deal!

    July 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. Michelle

    Obama has changed his mind a lot about Iraq.

    Let's face it–McCain has a more realistic plan. Is Barack going to steal THAT, too?

    Guess what, folks– Barack is NOT going to bring the troops home right away. He just said that to get your attention and votes in the primaries.

    Go to Youtube and search:" the Iraq video Barack Obama does not want you to see"

    July 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Bill, Covington

    Any time you have a college professor who is supposed to be so eloquent in his delivery of the english language and they say something like "I mean we can chase this around, you know, for a long time.
    What did he say prior to "I mean" that he had to clarify?
    "you know" I f I know, why are you wasting my time telling me?
    Who the hell are you to tell me what I know?
    I hope when he visits Iraq the troops do not turn their back to him. Never trust any of those creeps that must continually throw "I mean" and "you know" into their conversation. They are hiding something, thrat them with the utmost of suspision.

    July 3, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    That shows how smart he is. He has to see for himself and not just take the words of someone else. After he goes, he may have to change the timeline and that's okay. When ever the troops are brought home it will be done very carefully.

    And no one should push Obama on this decision not mccain, cnn or fox news.

    July 3, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. Michelle

    Has anyone noticed how much Barack Obama lies?

    July 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Sick of Bush!

    If Obama had the wisdom and good judgement to be against the war in Iraq from the beginning, while supporting going after the terrorist in Afganistan, then I'm sure he'll have the wisdom and good judgement to make the constant and necessary adjustments to properly get us out of the mess the Republican White House has put us in.

    At least his answer wasn't "...we'll be there 100 years if that what it takes!", as McBush has arrogantly stated! At 100 million a month, how long do you really think America will be a great country to live in???

    July 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. rumpusgoopus

    He's always said that he would listen to the military leaders in order to handle the situation responsibly. The media has gotten this new narrative in its head, that Obama is apparently shifting on everything, so therefore it interprets everything through this narrative.

    For the love of God, media, stop doing this and start acting like the professionals you're supposed to be. It's no wonder no one trusts you.

    July 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  12. LW

    Barack! Carrrrrrock!

    July 3, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. Kathryn

    Who is this man? I don't recognize him any more. I was truly torn between Obama, and Hillary. I chose Obama. I liked what he said, and he stood for. Now that he is our Democratic nominee and I can't take my vote back, Obama has changed his stance on most every issue that I chose him over Hillary for. I have never felt so USED, and MISLED in my life (other than when trying to make a purchase at a used car dealership) Same old politics. So much for CHANGE!
    I feel so betrayed.

    July 3, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  14. Ali

    Here we go again!!!

    The two faced swindler is at it again.

    The fine-tuning continues huh? CNN

    McCain 08!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  15. Val from MA

    Spineless empty suit with yet another broken promise. I clearly remember during the primary season Obama touted his "16 months" combat troops pull out from Iraq and now he is changing that also. Liar – he never said that his timeline was "always premised on makig sure that our tropps were safe." That's a pure lie!

    People: How can you believe a word that comes out of this guy's mouth? Unbelievable.

    July 3, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. Shawn - GA

    WHAT??? Hollow words and nothing of substance from Mr. Obama??? who would have seen this coming? LOL

    I can't wait until they debate without prescibed questions, Mr. Obama is nothing without his pretty speach writers.

    I had heard they are thinking of making a movie about Mr. Obama. It should be called "The Ventriloquists" and actully be about the guys who have their hands up Mr. Obama's shirt pulling the tab to move his mouth while they throws their voice.

    July 3, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  17. tigerakabj

    He said many times over that he would listen to the commanders to prudently pull out. Flip-flopping would be him all of sudden saying, lets stay in Iraq for another 4 years w/o any explanation.

    If Barack said he's pulling out w/o listening to the changing circumstances on the ground, then I will be worried.

    Now if the MSM would cover McCain's total 180s (i.e. Bush tax cuts, privatization of healthcare, off-shore drilling)....But they won't.

    July 3, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  18. Bishop

    The Republicans changed his message with their right sided views, like my buddy Lars Larson. Republicans and Dems often don't answer a question as directly as it was asked. They'll instead go off on a tangent and bring another issue into the mix. Sometimes they come up with silly nick-names like gun-grabbing Obama.

    July 3, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. John

    Of course he is changing his position. He changes it on everything.

    July 3, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Barbara

    After eight years of Bush's rigid, dogmatic, closed-minded, agenda-driven administration, it's a breath of fresh air to see a politician who is willing to look at all the facts and adapt his positions accordingly. Let the neocons keep parroting the flip-flop term to their heart's content. They just can't deal with someone who is flexible, open-minded, and intelligent enough to look at all sides of an issue.

    July 3, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. ET from OMAHA

    Don't be supprise to see the MSM fueling rumors on OBAMA changing position. Remember McBush just brought in some champions on smears from the crew of the worst president in American history.
    They will stop at nothing to create confusion in the voters mind. That's all they good at. Bunch of losers
    I've just seen Three smears in 3 days.
    1. Fist bump with child... Not true
    2. Obama moving to the center.... Garbage
    3. Obama changing position on Irak... Pure lie
    4. Obama opposed to safe nuclear energie program.. Illusion.
    Bring it on champions of smears. This is not John Kerry. We will destroy any missile rapidly and if possible return that on your own candidate. Remember we are in 2008 and you can only fool old people with no connection to the Internet.

    July 3, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Mary May King

    Something short of 100 years would be nice. Not that I plan on putting it on my "bucket list."

    July 3, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  23. Len

    typical liberal flip-flop.

    Has he ever not lied?

    July 3, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  24. Lindy in Oregon

    Once he is elected, he will do whatever he can to bring the troops home as soon as safely possible. If that takes more than 16 months, then so be it. I believe in his intelligence level to weigh all sides and make the best decision possible. I can't say that for Senator McCain.

    July 3, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  25. DEMOCRAT

    What in heaven's name is wrong with the media? Do we want a President who is so stuck in his ways, his party's ways? Or a President who is ready to listen act and change if need be. I prefer someone who can admit that they were wrong, someone who can admit that when in the white house when if I may add has more info availed to him can make sound decisions.

    If the Candidates had all the information that the white house has today I bet they would make their stand known. I definitely like the Obama style. Is McCain privy to information that is not given to Obama? How else can he be so sure of what he will do when in the white house.

    July 3, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
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