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. Independent voter

    Amazing. Obama was right about Iraq from the beginning and has consistently called for the withdrawal of US troops, yet he is being badgered with "questions" about his position on Iraq? Other than the McCain campaign, who is raising specific questions about Obama's stance on Iraq?

    Bottom line: Obama completely trumps McCain on foreign policy. Obama was and is right about Iraq; he is actually took action regarding loose nukes (which Bush and Kerry expressly agreed was the gravest threat to the US back in 2004); Obama's proposals to negotiate more openly with unfriendly foreign governments (which were first derided by many) have been adopted by the Bush admin with regard to North Korea; the list goes on.

    I like John McCain but he belongs in the Senate, God bless him. He just doesn't have the judgment or temperament to be President.

    July 3, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  2. Rose

    Words sure do matter. He has changed his words so many times about the troop withdrawal in Iraqi, I am not sure where he stands. He says 16 months he will begin to withdraw some troops, he is so green when it comes to this issue. I guess he doesn't care that once our troops pull out, Iran will be right there to take over Iraq and they will be stronger than ever and all of the Military efforts will have been in vain. I guess he will have a chat with the leaders of Iran and everything will be fine. He is so naive. NO OBAMA

    July 3, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. Holdfast

    Nobody in the media forced him to make those blanket statements – he made those in an effort to woo lefty Dems in the primary. Any adult (or even a child with a lick of sense) could see that the situation is more complicated and would depend on decisions on the ground, but Obama had to outflank HRC on the left to win the nomination, which he did. Now he is frantically scrambling to the center with a more reasoned position.

    What have we learned: Saint Barry of O'Bama is just another typical lying politician.

    If you want a mnoderate Democrat who is strong on the war, you've already got McCain – so why vote Obama? Because of Hope and Change (as in a hoped he would change his position on the war; I hope he won't change any of the positions that I like)?

    July 3, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  4. INDEPENDENT WHITE WOMAN FOR OBAMA

    (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 ........I suppose he has to change
    depending on the situation........McSame Flip Flop
    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.

    YOU ARE AN IDIOT...........to say all these nasty things about someone you don't know.......NOW GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH!

    July 3, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. white people for obama

    WE believe you! STOP the media from making this into a story. This is ridiculous, Obama is a brillant thinker he will do what is necessary to bring our troops home safely and then he will make sure they are treated well in hospitals. Not like McCain.

    July 3, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. Jim

    I don't understand why Obama supporters hail him for his good judgement and sensibility when he is proposing to do what Bush has done all along-consult with and listen to his generals.

    July 3, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  7. Paul

    A politician who is any good SHOULD be prepared to alter his stance a little from time to time. Situations change.

    July 3, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  8. H-ROD

    Before they would let the rest of us eat so it was not that bad . but know this new crew is so greedy they won't let anybody but them get a few crumbs and thats going to be their downfall their greed mark my words

    July 3, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  9. A CANUCK

    For goodness sake....leave the man alone ....he knows what he's doing....he has good judgment and will do what is best for all concerned. OBAMA 2008

    July 3, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. Tina, NC

    I've watched alot of townhall meetings and every debate. I've read every policy Obama has.

    The media is completely and total wrong on this. He has never changed his position on Iraq.

    Meanwhile McCain is like a fish out of water he's flipping and flopping so much. When is the MSM going to cover those? My guess is never.

    July 3, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. A VOTE for MCCAIN is a VOTE for PAIN

    Obama is focused and fierce in his mission. He hasn't changed his position or timeline. Read between the lines. McPain on the other hand said that we'll stay in Iraq for 100 yrs, then changed to 50 yrs, then 5 yrs, and more recently stated that he doesn't even know why we're in Iraq. Yet he voted for it. Well, John, we are there because of the mess you and your twin brother Bush got us into. Thank God we now have a brave smart leader who is intent on getting our fearless warriors out of harms way. He's cleaning up your quigmire, and wants to protect our heroes and heroins...not kill them in a useless and selfish war like Bush. And make no mistake, his character already shows great judment. He would never hesitate to strike an enemy...and will continue striking it where it matters...Afghanistan, etc.

    July 3, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  12. charles

    You can tell who the people are that get ALL there information from FOX news.

    July 3, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. jane

    Democrats, Dean and Pelosi, you made a mistake.

    July 3, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. Timothy

    Obama has not reversed his Position. Obama have to move to the center to win this election. Mccain is the one who had and I repeat reversed this positions and now lying about saying he knows about the Economy and Mccain knows he stated many times that he knows nothing about the Ecomomy this is so scary Mccain is the KING Of FLIP FLOPS. Please People Mccain for President will be a BIG misstake for this country.

    July 3, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. Time out !!!!

    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

    TELL me what is the RACE CARD .........you are an IDIOT!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  16. RapidRay

    16 months....18 months...24 months...

    Let's face the facts. The Bush administration and McCain have absolutely NO IDEA when they would withdraw American troops. Never had a plan to from what's been observed.

    Okay, so it might take a little longer, but if so it will be, as Obama has said numerous times, done with as much care and safety to our troops as Bush and his cohorts were reckless in going in.

    Yet here we are, a nation of rational thinking people asking for concrete time lines and numbers from a situation that remains fluid and dangerous to those who already in harms way. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the mess left behind in November could be even worse then than it is now? With GWB looking to increase covert operations in Iran, talk of troop increases in Afghanistan and the already strained military, he's only showing that he's not through mucking things up before he packs his bags and retires back to Texas.

    I'll give Obama full credit...he's not going to be backed into a wall that Bush built with a set of wheels on it.

    July 3, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  17. JR

    To everyone that says Obama lacks experience....experience is subjective, judgment is not. Some of our greatest presidents lacked political experience (Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy) but their judgment was sound. Take a look at what he's done, really, google his accomplishments before you attack his credibility. Afterwords look at the comprehensive solutions he has for the complex problems facing our nation. He's very practical and realistic and most importantly empowering the people of the United States to take notice. That's how real change happens.

    July 3, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. Obama 08: Female, 60, white

    Frank; and the McCain and Bush policies of going to war in Iraq have worked so well; tell that to the US troops who have just had their deployment to Afghanistan extended.

    July 3, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  19. Milan N

    I guess what Obama meant by "change we can believe in" was that he could "change" his mind whenever politically expedient. His supporters will now see him "change" his most vital promise...to withdraw all the troops in his first year of office.

    Too bad the Democrats blew it again by not selecting Hillary!

    July 3, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  20. Dorian in NC

    WHAT'S ASTONISHING is McCain supporters speaking so negatively against Obama, even though he is running the most spectacular campaign anyone has seen in decades.

    Some people are ignorant of the fact that he has inspired a nation to do better. And they're even more ignorant to think we as Americans revere him as a God, as opposed to an emerging leader who inspires like a few other past Presidents...

    July 3, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. Kel

    How is this really differenet from Mcain? Basically, he is saying I don't know when I will bring them home, it could within 16 months, 3years or 100. Whenever it is safe.

    July 3, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    Experience comes with age for the learned at least for the human species. He believes the law of attraction will draw him to the Iraqis.

    July 3, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  23. Dave

    We must leave more carefully than we rushed going in. Heck...we invaded the WRONG country for God's sake.

    July 3, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. NPA

    So the republicans start a rumor, throw it out there, and now the media is insisting on it without proof? It's all journalism.

    July 3, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. bo

    ha ha i knew this day would come. he had a strict time table and promise to be out of iraq in six months, but he's back pedaling as we all knew he'd have to if he was going to be honest and realistic. he said that the surge was useless, wasn't working, etc. and that the only way to deal with it was to pull out our troops and make the iraqis deal with it.

    at least mccain told us the truth even though we didn't want to hear from the get-go (remember he said that his iraq stance would probably cost him the general election, but he still stuck by it). of course obama just lied throughout the primaries in order to get votes from the left, and now he's trying to move to the center to get more votes. sounds like a typical politician to me.

    and mccain never said that he doesn't want to be in iraq for 100 years, he was answering someone who asked how long we might be iraq and he said "we might be there for 100 years; we still have troops in korea, and other parts of the world." he didn't say that he wants us to be at war for 100 years. that was a clear distortion by the media and obama.

    July 3, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
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