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. Lew In Atlanta

    Isnt it amazing how when he had a plan it was what everyone wanted but now that he is actually going to talk to the leaders on the ground he is so smart. This wont even be a story because the drive by media wont cover it and the Obamaniacs dont care what he says or does.

    OBAMA = SOCIALISM

    July 3, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. AntiObama.net

    Obama is moving to the center to become President. I wrote about this at http://antiobama.net

    July 3, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Chris K

    All the guy said is that he would talk to the people on the ground before finalizing any plans. To do otherwise would be foolish.

    I really wish the republicans peppering this site with all the hate and lies would do the country a favor and go to therapy to work out their problems. Maybe they can get a group rate with Rove and Cheney?

    July 3, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  4. Jeanette

    Acually obama has never changed positions as far as withdrawal of troops. They are confusing him with hillary clinton who stated she would withdrawal within 60 days. He had always stated a careful withdrawal from 16 months. If it takes 2 years for safety reasons then that should be ok. It's about our troops saftey not our impatience.

    July 3, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  5. Mark

    Well, for the first time in 8 years we will have a President who will truly analyze issues and ensure that the right decisions are made for the good of the American people. A man who is a pragmatist and able to alter his positions isn't blinded by ideology. Its a refreshing change and a symbol of true wisdom. If Bush had like been educated enough to admit he wasn't always right....we would have stayed out of Iraq and finished the war on Al Qaida. Ensuring the right decisions are made is not "flip flopping".

    July 3, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  6. zack

    barrack hussein obama is a liar, a bigot, hypocrite and slick and sleazy.
    he is not the nominee yet. hillary clinton should be voted as the nominee at the demo convention. obama will not win against mc cain. obama may win one or two states and that is it. the republican will again win the white house. obama is naive, inexperienced, and will plunge our country into disaster and chaos!

    July 3, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  7. H-ROD

    Obama Don't start with the bull ,Iraq never attack us the only reason those troops are over there is to help the bankers and oilmen steal their oil thats it. If they made you an offer you can't refuse then get out of the race but don't sell out!!! (I hope OBAMA CAN)!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  8. MARYANN Oswego IL

    flip flopper...Obama sounds more and more like George W Bush's third term...I think I have heard Georgie boy say he was going to listen to the Generals on the ground in Iraq..and then do whatever he wants anyway...Obama =George W Bush the kind of Prez you could party with -no experience-puppet strings being pulled every which way...Thanks DNC !!!

    July 3, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. JK Ashburn, VA

    Allen from Hartwell: It was Obama, all during the course of the primaries, who kept making blanket statements without anyone forcing him to.

    - "I will end the war and bring the troops home as soon as I take office.
    - "I will negotiate with Iran with no pre-conditions."

    No one forced him to make these "line in the sand" "blanket statements." He did it to appeal to people like you, those of you who were foolish enough to believe his nonsense. Now, that he has you, he's realizing they were idiotic things to say "in the heat of the campaign" as he himself has said.

    July 3, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. PCS / North Carolina

    Frank wrote July 3rd, 2008 6:44 pm ET

    "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!"

    Yeah right, your buddies Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had 40yrs of foreign policy experience, and what did they do ? They screwed up the image of our country, went after the wrong guy in Iraq (Rumsfeld's buddy in the 1980's) and left Osama in the cave in afganistan. You must be paranoid to vote for McCain who is trying to gain political experience by going to Canada and Mexico

    July 3, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  11. saga4obama

    anyone who sees this as a flip flop is delusional

    July 3, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. pam Eugene OR

    I am sure Barack still plans to get us out of this insane war. We can't afford it anymore, like we ever could! Our country is so far in debt to China that we better all start learning a second language. We have so much to take care of at home in America, people don't have jobs and the few that do can't afford the gas to get there. Every time I go to the grocery store I need to take credit cards. My 401K is going down faster than I can put the money in and I max out at 25% of my income. We need a new vision and a confident leader and that is Barack Obama. There is no way I can ever vote for more of the same.
    Let Barack go and see for himself that we can never end their religious strife in Iraq. They do not want to kiss and make up and we can't make them. We need to just pick up out bat and ball and come home. We need to take our money with us. It is needed here at home.

    July 3, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. JforObama

    Frank: I totally disagree with you. For you to say he is a total bust is proving that you definitely have a one-sided mind. You are totally for McCain and that is why you do not see any wrong on McCain's part as far as all of his flip flopping. I'm not saying that Obama has done any better but McCain is in the same boat. I wouldn't be upset if McCain becomes president but I think Obama is much of what America needs.

    Monica, you continue to support Obama – I believe he is a genuine person and really can do a lot for this country. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their own VOTE. I will vote for Obama.

    For those who are hating on Obama – go join Fox News with all the other Obama haters.

    Obama08 :)

    July 3, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  14. David Illinois

    Monic I know it is hard to admit you have made a mistake. It is ok. Lots of Democrates were taken in by this shyster. But please...open your eyes before you vote for him again. He is nothing new. An empty suit with only one goal. Grab for power. The closer we get to Denver the more we are going to be sorry we so trashed Hillary. Change his positions? What positions? the ones he stole from Bill and Hillary or the ones that he voted"Present" on? This guy is a snake.

    July 3, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  15. mary

    I know senator Obama is smart enough to not rush in 2009 if he becomes president to just end the war in Iraq.The Bush administration rushed in to began the war without any plans on how to surround , secure and stabilize the country once the war began.I know senator Obama will have a very careful plan that will allow our troops to come safely and allow the people of Iraq to run their own country. I know senator Obama will always make the security of the people and this country up front on his agenda.

    July 3, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. vick

    peoepl obama 08!!!!!!!!! mcshame go home please

    July 3, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  17. vince, Chicago

    Flip Flop Flip Flop. Does this dude have any morals whatsoever?

    July 3, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  18. Nate

    Should anyone be suprised. Obama is for change after all.

    July 3, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. truth machine

    This man has reversed ALL his positions since the primary.

    He is the typical, lying, hypocritical politician.

    Just slicker and sleazier than most.

    Congratulations on earning your brownie points from the McCain campaign for propagating their mindless and baseless talking points.

    And he has the race card playing advantage.

    That's a very racist comment.

    July 3, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. velmeezee

    Changing a position when substantiated facts dictate it is necessary, regardless of the effects on popularity with the under-informed public can hardly be viewed as "flip-flopping". Changing a position, despite information from advisors, to gain a short burst of popularity or alignment with a certain group of voters is what I have seen from first Sen. Clinton and now Sen. McCain. I want a leader for 4-8 years who will do the right thing for our country based on what is best for all Americans, not one who gets caught up in the moment and makes knee jerk decisions that benefit few in the short term and affect many in the long run.

    July 3, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  21. truth machine

    Frank!! Lots! of!! exclamation!! points!! don't! make! you! any! more!!! credible!!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    The thing that really bothers me about this candidate is that he does not stand for anything. "Gather information". For all his rhetoric, what does he REALLY propose to change? I have never heard an Obama supporter address this.

    July 3, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. Carol

    This is just the begining. I never belived him and I still dont. Lets start taking a running count of how many promises he changes until the election...Change my foot.

    July 3, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. ginger

    That's right monica.

    All the haters and nay sayers want to turn this into something it's not. If people would remember when he debated HRC on ABC he said, he would listen to the military commanders on the ground. And if he needed to make some adjustments he would.

    Obama 08

    July 3, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. H-ROD

    Bush and Mccain are bought lock stock and barrel. So Obama what did they offer you and by they I mean those who control the economic systems credit/the fed. the banks the oil. DID they say that they would let you go on and be president if you play ball. to hell with them you have the people, go out and tell the truth the people are with you!!!!! the people united can never be defeated and they know it !!! YES OBAMA CAN !!! P.S. NOT EVEN THE LIES OF CNN ABC CBS NBC AND ALL THE OTHERS CAN STOP THE PEOPLE WHEN THEY HAVE HAD ENOUGH AND WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!!! ITS TIME TO STORM THE BASTILE!!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
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