July 5th, 2008
04:21 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama insists he's 'been very consistent' on Iraq

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Sen. Barack Obama speaks on his Iraq policy aboard his campaign plane headed to Missouri on Saturday.
Sen. Barack Obama speaks on his Iraq policy aboard his campaign plane headed to Missouri on Saturday.

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama, speaking on board his campaign plane as it headed to St. Louis on Saturday, continued to defend his position on Iraq - and questioned reporters' parsing of his words.

"I am surprised at how ... the press ... I'm not trying to dump on you guys, but I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured," Obama said.

"I wasn't saying anything that I hadn't said before. That I didn't say a year ago. Or when I was a U.S. senator. If you look at our position, it's been very consistent. The notion that we have to get out carefully has been a consistent position," he said.

"The belief that we have a national security interest in making sure Iraq is secure, I've been saying consistently," he added. Noting "the worst-case scenarios and the parade of horribles that has been trotted out by John McCain and others about genocide if we left," he said he has always reserved "the right to protect people from genocide."

"So a lot of these statements that I've made have been entirely consistent," Obama added.

Late Saturday afternoon, McCain's campaign responded to Obama's comments.

In a statement, campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said, “We are all absolutely committed to ending this war, but on Thursday Barack Obama’s words indicated that he also shared John McCain’s commitment to securing the peace beforehand. What’s really puzzling is that Barack Obama still doesn’t understand that his words matter."

In North Dakota on Thursday, Obama denied that 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."

However, he told reporters questioning his stance that he will "continue to refine" his policies as warranted.

Presumably unhappy with the media's coverage of his earlier statements on Iraq - and after the Republican National Committee issued attack emails asserting he's "reversed" his position - Obama called a second news conference later Thursday to reiterate that he is not changing his stance.

Watch: Obama clarifies his comments on Iraq

"We’re gonna try this again. Apparently I wasn't clear enough this morning on my position with respect to the war in Iraq. I have said throughout this campaign that this war was ill-conceived, that it was a strategic blunder and that it needs to come to an end," he said.

"I have also said that I would be deliberate and careful in how we got out, that we would bring our troops home at a pace of one to two brigades per month and that at that pace we would have our combat troops out in 16 months."

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iraq
soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Code Blue

    It's obvious now, Ron paul is the only candidate that will bring our troops home.

    July 5, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Ron R

    Quit trying to create a story here!! The guy has been consistent with his stance on the war and spelled that out again yesterday very clearly!!!

    July 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Ben (Eugene, OR)

    Wow!! CNN is actually posting a story pointing out an Obama reversal?!?! I'm pleasantly surprised. Maybe the media's love affair with the "rock star" candidate will be over, and we can start having a serious discussion about the issues. It's a step in the right direction.

    July 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. The Lady

    It is not you Mr. Obama it is the media changing your words to say want they want to hear you say.

    July 5, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Loretta from California

    GOOD. Safety and Security first. I get it. I don't know why others are pretending to be THICK SCULLED on this issue.

    DEMOCRATS UNITE!!!

    July 5, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. rachel

    No you havent been consistent, no matter how you try and spend it and if you were so responsible why would you have given any kind of timetable before talking to military leaders, or visiting the military leaders on the ground.

    July 5, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Just an Observation

    I thought this was very interesting. I was reading an article about Obama defending his position on Iraq as being the same (of course he thinks we're dumb as to not remember his statements).

    "I wasn't saying anything that I hadn't said before. That I didn't say a year ago. Or when I was a U.S. senator. If you look at our position, it's been very consistent. The notion that we have to get out carefully has been a consistent position," he [Obama] said.

    Am I the only one that noticed in that statement that he stated clearly "Or when I was a U.S. senator."

    Is that arrogance speaking?

    July 5, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. bk

    Obama is not going to get the troops out any faster than McCain. Obama talks out of both sides of his mouth. I hope we don't have to put up with this arrogant empty suit for 4 years. He acts like Bush did when he was running for president.

    July 5, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. AA-ATLANTA

    I am not sure why Senator Obama has to keep repeating his stand on Iraq and Iran issues. I get it and got it when he first spoke on his position and resolution for this war. We need to use common sense and some intellect when listening to all the candidates speeches. The news media and anti- Obama supportes are acting like children. Remember how it feels when you fully explain a situation to your kids and they come back , pick the words out to use against you to gain what they want. Well....this is the same . Senator is against the war and one of his priorities is to get us out as soon as humanly
    feasible. We will leave it up to the next president and staff who is QUALIFIED to work out the details.

    July 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. Lai, TX

    He sure has!!

    July 5, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. Valley Village, CA

    Why is it that the MSM always seems to question Obama's call to reduce/pullout of troops but NEVER question McCain's plans of indefinate occupation in Iraq.
    Am I the only one who sees that our occupation & on going war costs are directly related to our down-spiraling economy?!

    July 5, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. Did Obama Forget He Said This?

    sounds to me he's doing just what McCain had said, revising his positions based on the audience. This guy is a phony.

    ================

    CLINTON, Iowa – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama this afternoon called for an immediate start to the withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq — with a goal of full removal by the end of 2008 — as he suggested the nation has lost its way because of the war.

    “We’re not going to be truly united and resolute as Americans until we can stop holding our breath, until we can come together to reclaim our foreign policy and our politics and end this war that has cost us too much,” he said.

    Obama’s plan, outlined before an audience of about 500 at Ashford University, calls for the complete pullout of troops by the end of next year by bringing home one or two brigades each month.

    “Let me be clear: There is no military solution in Iraq. There never was,” he said. “‘The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year – now.”

    July 5, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Like Usual

    Always the lair

    July 5, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Joe, Florida

    No matter what people may say:

    Obama is still the better person to be President of The United States.

    He has been consistent. What happens is that this is man who does not allow himself to be changed by pressure. Trust his judgement people. Just look at the way he handled the pressure to put Clinton on the ticket. This man THINKS BEFORE HE ACTS. I don't know about you, but that's an excellent quality for a President to have.

    Again, what do you prefer?

    McCain, guaranteed to be the continuation and ESCALATION of th same.

    or Obama who, at the very least, is offering a different path.

    It's your choice,

    Please choose wisely!!

    July 5, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. Weina

    I love you Obama!! Gobama!!! No McBush!! Obama 2008

    July 5, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. Dan

    He's been consistently weak and wishy-washy. And he hasn't been learning from his mistakes, otherwise he would have learned from his "elitist snob" speech that he needs to refine what he says.

    Talk about spin doctoring! Blaming the McCain camp for what he said! He needs to own up and admit clearly that his promises may not happen. His arrogance about how great of a candidate he is really offends.

    July 5, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Kell Ca

    Obama did not change his plan. The News helps twist this idea in the frist place. If people really listened, they would of known this.

    More right -wong political swing...does CNN think the people are blind?

    McWar will not win...no matter how idiotic they get.

    July 5, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. USA FOR OBAMA

    Barack Obama has made his self very clear on bring our troops home and the time line. It is John McCain and CNN that can't understand it. How about CNN asking John McCain about leaving our troops in Iraq for 50 or 100 years.

    July 5, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. bernice

    GOOOO Senator Obama.....

    July 5, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. john williams san diego, ca.

    B.O is full of B.S

    July 5, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. bumble bee

    Interesting isn't it? Looks like a move to the center as Sen. Obama's support seems to dwindle...re: the latest CNN polls. I thought he was change to believe in?

    July 5, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. eam

    the lawyer come out. you can word it however you NOBAMA, THE REAL TRUTH IS THAT YOU'RE JUST ANOTHER RAT LAWYER, YOU BASICALLY SAYING I CAN CHANGE MY MIND AS OFTEN AS I LIKE. Sound to me like you don't have enough spine to make a stand. You, you Nazi racist rat lawyer are weak and you are just a black version of BUSH. You are gonna drag our country even further down.

    July 5, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. James France

    The truth is that nobody knows from one day to the next what is going to be good for Iraq. You can't determine the best course of action during a run for the presidency. By the way, for all you Obama supporters, go to AOL.com and read the results for their straw poll that 250,000 people participated in. It might make you poop your pants. It is a poll you have to participate in by doing a mock vote online. The last i read, it was 62%-38% in favor of McCain. Gives you food for thought doesn't it?

    July 5, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. Lisa

    Shut up Obama I can't stand you!! We want the war in Iraq to end today not tomorrow. I knew everything you said was a bunch a lies. Hillary said she wants out in 60 days now that's a leader we can trust.

    It's impossible to fix the economy if we continue to stay in Iraq. I don't like Obama's supporters either, their a bunch of idiots that fell for Barack lies.

    July 5, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Bill

    Good BHO, we have your back, the MSM doesnt

    July 5, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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