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. Pat Carpenter

    If you are going to be involved in the national elections, whether presidential, senatorial, or House of Representatives member every word, every comma is going to be examined as the news departments attempt to "scoup" the competition.

    In the end, in my opinion, this nit picking takes away from what we are attempting to do, that is find someone with some leadership skills to stand up and say 'follow me", even if I'm wrong.

    July 5, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. Marj,Paso Robles, Cal

    BO, the only thing consistent about you is your inconsistency.

    July 5, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Kathy

    Senator Obama has been consistent on Iraq and any sensible person would know that he has. The McCain camp is trying to slow down his popularity by telling the press that he reversed his views on Iraq. Simply not true! His campaign has consisted of nothing more than negative ad campaigning and lies from the very beginning. I cant forget the time when McCain lied on National TV at the GOP debate back in January and he continues to lie all the time. I still don't understand how he became the Republican candidate. I hope no one falls for this cheap tactic by the McCain campaign to pump up the media to saying he has suddenly reversed his views on Iraq.

    July 5, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. California Voter

    Obama is surprised by how finely words are measured by the press - was he surprised by how the press fueled the fires on comments made by Senator Clinton during the campaign that somehow made remarks said by both her and her husband as racist. Obama is probably surprised because the press has kissed up to up to him during the entire primary. Looks like Obama needs some toughening up before he runs for the most important position in our government!

    Imagine the press questioning his "repositioning" of his stands on NAFTA, FISA and whatever other changes in position he has made since the primaries. He must think everyone is uneducated and stupid!

    July 5, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. Ralph

    Seems that as usual, the GOP has made a mountian out of a molehill. They are so desperate to smear Obama because they can never win on issues.

    July 5, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. PaulC

    It's sad but the American voter is so self destructive that they will probably elect McCain. They will look for any excuse to avoid voting for Obama. Granted he has flaws but he is probably our best hope to get on a more productive path.
    They are so willing to engage in counter-productive military ventures and unnecessary, over priced high tech weapon systems but cannot bring them self to provide health care.
    Every developed country provides universal health care and gun control except the U.S.. We'll gladly pay $162 billion for war but cringe at help for needy Americans.
    I'm wrong...its beyond sad.

    July 5, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. APS in Hawaii

    It is so sad that this incompetent person is going to be the nominee. He bashed Hillary for her views and when he shifts his Iraq policy to hers, he is brilliant. Now he is not flip-flopping, he is clarifying his position. He has been like this through the whole primary season. Obama got away with this elitist attitude only because the news media went head over heels for him.

    CNN you should really watch the SNL skit about Obama and Hillary debates and you will feel the disgust Hillary supporters feel. It had nothing to do with race – black or white, but with the way Obama supporters and the news media acted and treated Hillary and her supporters. Funny thing is the news media refuses to admit they did anything wrong. LOL!!!!

    July 5, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Wisconsin

    Obama never strayed from what he said, it was uneducated Republicans and POOR journalism that made this into a big deal.

    Note their is nothing in the deffination of refine that says you need to totally change, like it was reported and pushed by Republicans.
    refine

    Main Entry:
    re·fine Listen to the pronunciation of refine
    Pronunciation:
    \ri-ˈfīn\
    Function:
    verb
    Inflected Form(s):
    re·fined; re·fin·ing
    Date:
    1582

    transitive verb 1 : to free (as metal, sugar, or oil) from impurities or unwanted material 2 : to free from moral imperfection : elevate 3 : to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing 4 : to reduce in vigor or intensity 5 : to free from what is coarse, vulgar, or uncouth intransitive verb 1 : to become pure or perfected 2 : to make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions

    July 5, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. sharon M.

    McCain is really not a mavrick. He is to old , and he needs to retire. How come the media is always trying to twist things. How come they just can't just stick to the facts. What is America Afraid Of? Black Americans are smart, and intellegent also. I feel as if they will pull up anything. Just because you are white does not always mean that you are Right!! It also does not mean that your are perfect. Get over the race issue. We to have people in our culture that are positive. I noticed that he was called a couple of weeks ago by Karle Rove to be arrgoant. Why because he is a black man who is educated, and has decent and morale standards? It was not said that he is confindent but BIG HEADED? Ask yourself the questions we should not be PROUD OF OUR RACE OR CULTURE? IT IS JUST BECAUSE HE HAS CREATIVE IDEAS THAT ARE INNOVATIVE AND THAT HE IS RUNNING A EXCELLENT CAMPAIGN. HE IS NOT RUNNING THE SAME KIND OF WASHINGTION CAMPAIGN. HE TRUELLY IS GETTING THE YOUTH ACTIVE IN THE PROCESS. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO STATE THAT HE REALLY IS WORKING FROM THE BOTTOM UP AND NOT FROM THE TOP DOWN. DO SOMETHING NEW !!! WHY MAKE AN ISSUE ABOUT THE MONEY HE RAISED . IT WOULD BE STUPID FOR HIM TO HAVE RAISED THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY AND THEN ONLY BE ABLE TO USE THE 85 MILLION IF HE TOOK THE FINANCING FROM THE GOVERNMENT. IF HE HAS THE MONEY WHY NOT USE IT TO THE BEST OF HIS ABILITY . HIS CAMPAIGHN IS NOT SLOPPY. I AM MARKETING STUDENT AND I SEE THE STRATEGIC MOVES THAT HE IS MAKING.

    OBAMA 08

    July 5, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. Wisconsin

    Obama never strayed from what he said, it was uneducated Republicans and POOR journalism that made this into a big deal.

    Note their is nothing in the definition of refine that says you need to totally change, like it was reported and pushed by Republicans.
    refine

    Main Entry:
    re·fine Listen to the pronunciation of refine
    Pronunciation:
    \ri-ˈfīn\
    Function:
    verb
    Inflected Form(s):
    re·fined; re·fin·ing
    Date:
    1582

    transitive verb 1 : to free (as metal, sugar, or oil) from impurities or unwanted material 2 : to free from moral imperfection : elevate 3 : to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing 4 : to reduce in vigor or intensity 5 : to free from what is coarse, vulgar, or uncouth intransitive verb 1 : to become pure or perfected 2 : to make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions

    July 5, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. Military Man

    Obama's 16 month withdrawl plan is fairly naive and beyond overly-ambitious. It's quite frankly, not possible. If he doesn't already know this, he surely will after his upcomming visit. His most recent statements are both good and bad for him. It's good because if he ever is elected he will have set the stage for the eventual admission that he can't get us out as quickly as he hoped. It's bad because he's clung to his 'end the war now' approach.

    Sadly, no matter what Obama promises, we will always have a military base Iraq. In that sense, we will never be completely out, just like we're not completely out of Germany, Japan, Korea etc. There's gonna be a minor presence for decades to come. Hopefully we can end formal war activities, but given the volatility of the region, it's doubtful.

    If you're voting on a candidate because you want the war over faster, you're wasting your vote. Both candidates will work to end the war as reasonably soon as possible. Neither candidate will be able to force an end to the war until the region is ready ... and neither candidate has control over that.

    Sadly, Obama is an empty suit. I don't trust him. If he's my commander and chief I'll do my best to support him, but he's far from the ideal leader.

    July 5, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. pants on fire

    If Obama's lips are moving he's lying.
    If he makes it to the White House, you can be certain he will "refine" every promise he's ever made just so American fools elect him.

    July 5, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. Rob indetroit

    Am i the only one with a opinion.

    July 5, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Marty Pacino Chicago Il XDemocrat

    The only thing he is consistent on is sharing his middle name with Sadaam's last name. Hussien. He also consistently refused to serve his country in the Military. Consistently refused to wear an American flag lapel pin. He consistently attended a church that talks smack about white people and he consistently goes into big events to boost his ego. He is very consistent at dividing his own party and consistent at making sure the democratic party will be destroyed for 20 years. This guy isn't a true American in fact he is the greatest fraud to ever enter the Election. As soon as Mccain quits being a coward and lets the RNC expose him for what he is then you can bet your marbles he's going to get blown out worse than Dukakis did. The only state this guy has a chance to win is Minnesota. I’m from Chicago his home town and trust me we are going to make sure he doesn't even win Illinois. In conclusion I am forced to quote those famous words of Ronald Regan. "I didn't leave the democratic party the democratic party left me" Yours truly a new republican!

    July 5, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. Obama remorse

    No you have not... you went from criticizing HRC position on Iraq... to adopting her position.

    Sleaze bucket.

    July 5, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Obama remorse

    Depends on what the definition of "consistent " is.

    This guy sure lies... even with taped debates for verification.

    July 5, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Independant Vet

    Here he goes again, Flopping an flipping.

    Waite till it's reavield that, HE CAN NOT BE THE PRESIDENT.
    For he is not a CITIZEN of the USA . Then we will hear all , the UH"s a AWHs . An let me tell you , an that will be just another LIE.

    July 5, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Chris

    Was that a freudian slip or a type-o?
    "When I was a US Senator"
    I guess he's already elected himself Prez.
    See 3rd paragraph.

    July 5, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Good luck in damage control, Senator Nobama! Your true face is coming through little by little, and we cann't wait to see what the GOP is going to with you by November! You have ride the media wagon throughout the primaries, but those are gone and now you have face the real world! Hope you have a plan on what to do and where to go after November and after being defeated by the GOP! And even Hillary cann't help you now!!!! And I hope that at least Bill Clinton keeps his wise distance from you!

    July 5, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. JERRAL

    president obama
    that has been you message from day one, why no one gets it is a mistory.
    ALTHOU THE PRESS IS KEEPING UP THE HIPE FOR THEIR RATING AT YOUR EXPENCE. CNN AND NTHE REST SHOULD POST EXACT FACTS OR JUST DON'T TELL ANYTHING. IT IS ALL ABOUT PRESS RATING TO KEEP THE FUEL IN THE FIRE
    GOD BLESS YOU AND AMERICA

    CNN PLEASE POST THIS

    July 5, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. Robert

    This is a media-created tempest, designed to paint Obama as a flip-flopper while carefully ignoring McCain's daily mistakes and reversals.

    Good little MSM doggies.

    July 5, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. ljc

    The media loves to twist words. He said "continue to refine". They tried to make it appear that he filp flopped. Not the case. Refine means to "improve" "become more polished" "to bring to a pure state". Maybe they don't know the defininiction of the word.

    July 5, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  23. Ken Austin, TX

    I'm the biggest Barack Obama supporter out here, but even I have to admit that his latest remarks about the Iraq war did seem flimsy.

    I just wish the economy wasn't the #1 issue on voter's minds. Sure gas prices are ridiculous, but eventually it will become moderate, as well as grocery prices and home foreclosures/unemployment. But a soldier's life being taken in Iraq....that's something we'll never get back.

    Keep the Iraq war as the #1 issue.

    July 5, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  24. Sheila

    For all of us Hillary supporters. Here is how I feel. CNN pushed Obama. They picked and picked and picked and picked on Hillary's every word, look, gesture. The commentors in politics are so obviously biased to black man mania potrayed so perfectly by the SNL parody a few weeks ago. CNN, you have done it. You alone have defeated Hillary Clinton, despite her popularity with Republicans and Democrats and the majority of Americans. I am a Democrat and always have been, but I am one woman who will not vote for Obama. If Hillary is on the ballot in November, I will vote for her. If she is not on the ballot, I have to vote for John McCain, to protest. CNN, even if you say we are not going to vote, we are going to vote, but not for Bamarama. Teach CNN a lesson, vote for John McCain unless the DLC agrees to put Hillary on the ballot in November. CNN, you are losing viewers because of your bias. America is going to wake up and smell the coffee on election day, and all those college kids enjoyed the ride and the excitement, when they are alone in the booth, they are not going to vote for him, they will vote for any other person on the ballot for President.

    July 5, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  25. Mary Everett WA

    He has been. He is saying the same thing he said in one of the debates. He always said he would begin bringing combat troops home one or two bragdes at a time with a plan to have them oyt in 16 months WITH the reserved right of any President to be flexible according to the current situation. This stuff is all SPIN!

    July 5, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
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