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. Andrew

    This is just one more thing that proves he is not ready for the Oval Office.

    July 3, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  2. R.I.F.

    You reports are wanting him to change his postion so bad that you are changing it for him. He has said the same things all along that he said today. Are you guys working for John McCain?

    July 3, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  3. Joe G

    The man is a fraud!!! Does anyone believe that the troops will be fully out of Iraq in 16 months if Obama becomes President? This guy is all over the place. Nobody knows anything about him because he doesn't know himself.

    Just like he didn't know Wright or Pfleger or Rezco.

    July 3, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. Phil, FL

    I like the fact that Obama RE-thinks as circumstances change.

    McCain doesn't even THINK. All that hot-head temperamental old man can do is bomb bomb bomb war war war kiss bush butt kiss bush butt, etc.

    July 3, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  5. american in canada

    OBAMA 08!
    he's someone who takes all the information at hand and can make an informed, intelligent decision about what is best for our country.
    OBAMA 08!

    July 3, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. lisaque

    Obama lies once again.

    YES WE CAN AND WE WILL VOTE NOBAMA

    PUMA (PAC)

    July 3, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. Peter of Oregon

    Didn't Obama's staff clear this business up on CNN the other night? CNN haven't you learned from your reckless report over him snubbing a child asking for a fist bump the other day? Report the news, leave the tabloid, sensationalist journalism to Fox.

    July 3, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. lila

    The media is like a bunch of dumb crows. Obama made it clear months ago that if troops lives were in danger he would slow the with draw. Not change the mission to leave. 16 months out is his mission. Is it 100% sure? Nothing in life is 100% sure other than death.
    It might be a couple of extra months if we hit pockets in the withdraw that put our troops in harm's way. Anything other would be crazy. He said the same thing in the debates with Clinton as he has said now. His plan has not changed. Stop caing like dumb crows.

    July 3, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  9. Mark

    This is what a president should do...think out the math and if the equation does not add up make changes as necessary...not be stuck like McCain and his bomb bomb bomb appraoch!...

    July 3, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  10. lila

    Obama said over and over today 16 months is the mission. Dumb crows. It's like you are deaf and delete that fact on purpose.
    caw caw.. flip-flop caw caw can't hear just repeat echo chamber spin. caw caw

    July 3, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  11. Allen from Hartwell, GA

    Why does the media always try to force public figures to make blanket statements on flexible subjects? Now I know why they liked "line in the sand" Bush the Decider.

    July 3, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  12. tksam

    I hope he does not change his mind regarding the phase withdraw. That is his most fundamental policy, He better not "refine" it. Go Obama 08

    July 3, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  13. TEXAS FOR OBAMA

    Barack will do what is necessary to bring our wonderful military home safely. He has not changed his time line but after he goes again he will do what is best. That's not a flip flop, it changing your mind to fit the situation.

    McCain is trying to make it look like he is training Barack. McCain is kind of like Matt Lawler on ABC – "Where in the world is John McCain"!

    July 3, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. enomisa

    This man has reversed ALL his positions since the primary.

    He is the typical, lying, hypocritical politician.

    Just slicker and sleazier than most.

    And he has the race card playing advantage.

    July 3, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. Frank

    Monica: Give us a break! You should join the CNN's spin room as it appears you have a great gift for it! The guy is a bust when it comes to foreigh policy experience and ignorant folks like you keep defending his poor judgement and his poor record!!! It is truely astonishing!

    July 3, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  16. Obama spin

    What hasn't he back peddled and changed on?

    He just changes his position depending on whose votes he is trying to win.

    He panders to the left wing, and the evangelicals, the pro-war and the anti-war crowds.

    What we don't know is what will this candidate actually DO when he is in the white house?

    No track record, no experience, no resume, no qualifications- just a lot of hot air.

    July 3, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  17. ljmoon

    CHANGE apparently means CHANGE YOUR MIND...
    Why do dems feel they have to sell out their principles in order to get elected...Obama promised to be a different politician, specifically one that doesn't pander or just says what the people want to hear....and now he is just appearing to be THAT politician, not just on Iraq which really isn't a change of policy but with all other positions that he has shifted on just this week...is this his idea of unity and non-partisanship? throwing the baby out with the bath water??

    July 3, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  18. Phantom of the Oprah

    He changed his position on his lifelong mentor and friend, Rev Wright, he left the Church when it was no longer politically expedient for him, he changed on NAFTA, FISA, campaign finance reform and every other position he pushed to win the primary.

    This man does not have the courage of his convictions... he blows in the winds of change... anything to get a vote.

    July 3, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Don

    I love the lengths Obama supporters will go to keep the kool-aid down. The man made a big point his opposition to the war, he was against the surge and now he's talking about changing his policiies based on the facts on the ground. Those facts have been there a long time, but News coverage has just started to follow it. People are so desperate for improvement that they'll follow anybody who gives a shiny smile. I don't support the war or think McCain is that great but Obama supporters are nuts.

    July 3, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  20. Obama's campaign strategy

    This man is so smart... he never holds to any position.
    If it will cost him any votes...he drops it like a hot potato.
    if it is unpopular...he nixes it.
    If it is not well received he ditches it.
    if it invites scrutiny or criticism he dumps it.

    All he does is change his mind depending on what is selling at the moment. What will he do as president... He is clearly afraid to take and hold any position or stand.

    No conviction whatsoever, this man of hope and change.

    July 3, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  21. JD

    Why shouldn't he be called on this? He preached the 16-month timeline throughout the primary season, and now he's "refining" his statements. It seems to me that some folks might have voted for him in the sate primaries based on his aggressive withdrawal promise. Now that he's changed that promise, can those people have their vote back?

    July 3, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  22. A nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    This guy, Obama, has to the idiot of all times.. What does he think will happen, if we unilaterally pull out of Iraq in haste. He has no sense.

    Iraq will become easy pickings for Iran to send their terrorists into Iraq and create the kind of atmosphere that some countries found themselves in during the great Blitz Krieg of 1939 -1940 ie Norway, Denmark, Poland, Belgium and Holland to name a few. Hitler wanted to protect these countries from outside enemies and overthrew their legal governments. Iran would do the same to Iraq in a heartbeat.

    Let's not let the liberal senator recreate history and lose this valuable resource to the western world.

    Give me a break send Obama packing back his ultra liberal roots.

    July 3, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  23. chris

    obama is starting to talk and act like dubya, who's never wrong......makes sense considering the obama lemmings have acted like dubya's supporters for months now....

    July 3, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  24. RRRrrrr

    Oh god forbid he do something smart like be fluid about the iraq withdrawl situation, i mean we'd want him to wrecklessly pull all the troops out without considering events as they happen! right? i don't think he ever meant the idea of 16 months to be right on the freaking dime! would common sense be too much to ask from the news media?

    July 3, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  25. Bob

    No, he is not smart he said at the beginning they would come home within 16 months without havent ever been there. That is called apeasement just like he did with NAFTA to win votes. All I can do is laugh "Hope" "Change" "Different Politics"

    Same old same old but the sheep have made up there minds no matter what this clown says you will say he is right. Start McCain bashing from the uneducated in 3.....2.....1.......

    SAD, VERY SAD

    July 3, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
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