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. Obama spins again

    I heard Obama criticize Hillary for having the very position he has now switched to.

    He gave a definate time frame- it was HRC who stated all the factors to consider and would not be pinned by Obama into a time-frame promise. HRC stated she would get the Generals on it and start the process but make sure not to mess things up by a hasty withdrawal.

    Obama is a slick liar... He said we'd be out by 2009... 16 months. Saying being careful getting out does not mean he didn't put a time table to it.

    July 5, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. aware

    Give it up Obama! You are just digging yourself a deeper hole.

    Iraq is succeeding, and you will backtrack even more. :)

    July 5, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Michigan Born & Educated

    OBAMA=Liar

    July 5, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. R.I.F.

    This is worse than the Wes Clark thing. McCain and the RNC are telling the media what they want Obama and the dems to say and the media is running with it. I'm sure Obama is very upset. For the past two days I've been watching the media say how Obama has changed on Iraq and it is 100% untrue. He's said over and over again that we will be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless in getting in. I think the media has it in for Obama.

    July 5, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. FACT CHECK!!!!!!

    Obama...... continued to defend his position on Iraq — and questioned "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."............That's it don't let them try to cross you !!!!

    July 5, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Roger

    What is his excuse for the NAFTA flip-flop.

    July 5, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. aware

    Give it up Obama! You are just digging yourself a deeper hole.

    Iraq is succeeding, and you will move even closer to McCain's position! :)

    July 5, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. andrew s

    say what you mean and mean what you say. please do not turn young people off. i voted for you, but you need to be honest with us. a word for a wise is good enough

    July 5, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Patty, Big Bear, CA

    Once again, America is faced with a choice....between a man who is stubbornly unwilling to change his stance on an issue no matter what facts may exist to the contrary, and one who is willing to consider all the information at hand INCLUDING new information that may surface and change his stance accordingly....we have just suffered through 7+ years of the former and America can only benefit from the latter....choose wisely

    July 5, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Hispanic For McCain

    FLIP FLOP, FLIP FLOP, FLIP FLOP what a Big Loser he is!!!! Hispanic for McCain. The latinos don't trust OBAMA. What has he done for the Hispanic Community NOTHING NADA,

    To all my Hispanic (Latinos) Brothers and Sisters we know that OBAMA is not for US!!!!! He taking all latinos for granted. so let go and support A true American Hero and that is John McCain.

    Latinos people know that he is a fruad, and he is not for the spanish speaking people, so let band together and get this Fruad OBAMA out!!!! and elect John McCain

    July 5, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. rumpusgoopus

    And he has. The only way this accusation can be true is if the media cuts out half of what Obama originally said, and then say that he never said it. That's exactly what they're doing here.

    July 5, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. s.positive

    RNC are liars, the media are two faced and the antibloggers are ignorant. For us who are objective and independent minded, we know that McBush has changed from his position and not Obama. I guess there is a lack of understanding when someone clarifies their position rather than changing it. Goes to show how dumb folks are...

    July 5, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Fistjab

    SHAME ON MEDIA for spining this out of nothing.

    July 5, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Panka

    The McCain Campaign are clearly trying to twist Senator Obama's words for political gain. If Obama says his visit in Iraq will help him refine his policy does not mean that he will be withdrawing from Iraq. The distinction is clear McCain is the pro-war stay in Iraq a 100 years candidate while Obama has a time limit and with a plan to withdraw one to two brigades every month and equipping the Iraqi police and military. McSame Bush will not win through lies. He should be the Maverick that he has been known for sometime until he started flip flopping big time.

    July 5, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Freddie, La

    I am so amazed at how the media is trying to pin Sen Obama to the wall on the 16 month issue. I would like to think that any Commandor and Chief would be willing to chg depending on the issues that come up, but he or she still sets the mission. So because of McCains insistance that Sen Obama is somehow a flip-flopper on this issues leads me to this conclusion. If for whatever the reason things drastically improved in Iraq and we could bring our troops home, he would not because he would be viewed as a flip flopper because he changed his position. And guess what, if it took President Obama 19 months to bring the troops home instead of 16 months, I would be fine with that too. Please people and media don't get stuck on stupid on any one issue.

    July 5, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. BOLA

    THE MEDIA ARE THE WORST PEOPLE THAT CREATE CONFUSION IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY, TRYING TO TWIST THINGS AROUND. THE MEDIA SHOULD BACK OFF. OBAMA HAS BEEN CONSISTENT WITH EVERYTHING HE SAYS.

    July 5, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. PCS / North Carolina

    Be careful Barack, the GOP spin machines = NRA the New KKK, FOX news, the filthy NeoCons Rush, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reily, Glen Beck, and Ann Coulter will salivate at any given oppotunity to crush you.

    July 5, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. What can't you understand media???

    How much time does Obama have to explain he's going to get the troops out of Iraq immediately? Now, anyone with a God given brain knows that on day one when he becomes president every troop won't will be pulled out before midnight. People, we have to be honest and realistic here, Obama clearly explained 2 bregades a months which adds up to 16 months – depending on the situation on the ground which no one can predict, some months it may be slower – that's good enough for me, no matter what, he's still getting them out – why can't folks get this – do you want him to draw a picture and color it with crayons for you???? Good greif McCain and Obama are clear as night and day – one ones our troops in Iraq for 100 years – the other wants them out immediately but carfeully! UNDERSTAND????

    July 5, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. David Goldman

    WE CAN'T NOR DO WE WANT TO HAVE OUR FUTURE

    PRESIDENT MAKE RASH JUDGMENTS ABOUT HOW

    TO WITHDRAW TROOPS. THAT WOULD MAKE HIM AS

    RECKLESS AS THOSE THAT GOT US INTO THIS WAR.

    THE POINT IS;

    OBAMA WILL WITHDRAW TROOPS, NOW, NOT IN A 100 YEARS &

    OBAMA WAS AGAINST THE WAR, IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    AND CONTINUES TO BE AGAINST IT. EVERYONE WHO

    HAS TO PAY FOR THEIR GAS & FOOD IN THIS COUNTRY

    SHOULD HAVE THE GOD GIVEN SENSE TO BE AGAINST

    THE WAR & THOSE THAT SUPPORT IT.

    July 5, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. Josh, NY

    The only thing Obama is consistent on is his flip-flopping.

    July 5, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. Daniel

    Ive been watching obama for over a year now and this is what he has been saying. that one reason people wanted hillary was because she wanted our troops home in 3 months. wow the media needs to get with it

    July 5, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. zorba

    I've noticed a consistent pattern with the McCain campaign: Since they appear unable to come up with workable solutions of their own, they consistently look for ways to distort what Obama says then attack their own distortions. That's dirty Republican tricks as usual, and that is the only consistency in the McCain camp that I can see. If McCain used his intellect to come up with ways to solve the problems of our nation, instead of pandering to the failed Neocon base by coming up with ways to unfairly attack Obama, I might vote for him. As it now stands, Obama has my vote.

    July 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Ron L

    This is typical NEWS MEDIA CRAP and it doesn't matter which political candidate it is. Obama has always said that he would leave in 16 months, he would pull out the troops more carefully than they were sent in, and he would listen to his Generals while making his withdrawal. ..
    IN SHORT HE WOULD THINK, LISTEN, and react PROPPERLY TO THE SITUATION...
    SOUNDS LIKE A PRESIDENT TO ME.....
    .
    AMERICA..IT IS TIME TO GROW UP and stop wasting time on GOTCHA news coverage. It is a means to keep you distracted from the REAL ISSUES...
    .
    The choice is VERY CLEAR...

    OBAMA = GET OUT of Iraq in 16 or maybe even 20 months
    McCANN= MAYBE Get out in 2 to 5 years PROBABLY 10 to 20 years with the goal to keep a large number of troops there for even longer...
    .
    THATS IT plain and simple. Now lets move on to the ECONOMY, HEALTH CARE, and the ENVIRONMENT.

    July 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. wendy

    True he has been consistent on Iraq. He's alway's s said "We have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. " McCain and the media ar trying to make something out of nothing.

    July 5, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. jimmy velman

    IF NOT BUSH, IT WILL BE EITHER OBAMA OR McCAIN WHO WILL HAVE TO CONTAIN IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM. IT IS GETTING LATE HOWEVER. AND IRAN WILL HAVE ENOUGH NUCLEAR
    (ENRICHED URANIUM TO MAKE A NUCLEAR WEAPON.
    WAITING AND WAITING FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN TO WORK
    AND STOP THEM FROM THEIR NUCLEAR WORK IS A WASTE OF TIME. IRAN'S THREATS TO BLOCK THE HORMUZ STRAITS IS
    WHAT THEY CONSIDER THEIR ACE CARD AND IT COULD /WILL DISRUP OIL SUPPLIES IF THEY DO THAT BUT NOT FOR A LONG TIME. WE BELIEVE ISRAEL AND THE u.s. HAS ENOUGH ORDNANCE AND THE EQUIPMENT TO DESTROY ANYTHING
    THE IRANANS USE TO BLOCK THE VITAL CHANNEL AND ANNIHILATE THE COUNTRY IF THEY GO ALL OUT WAR.

    July 5, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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