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

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

, ,
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."

Full Story


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

    Yes he has. He wants US to cut and run and let the Muslims win.

    July 5, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. A R in Oklahoma

    Personally, I would rather have a president who did adjust his plans based on the current situation on the ground, who displayed intelligent dileberation before making any moves, and who did not lock himself into any particular position. This is leadership...... the opposit is stupidity and is exactly what got us into the war in Iraq in the first place. Obama is showing himself as the thoughtful leader I knew he is. He is amazing. Even Lincoln adjusted his plans based on how the war was going, not his position on the war...just his way of going about winning it. This is the type of diliberate leadership we need. I trust a man more who is not afraid to change his plans for the good of others than those who are so rigid they stick to the same dogma as destruction rains down upon them.

    July 5, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Raymond Duke

    He has been consistent. He has been consistent in changing on Iraq everyday . My memory isn't that bad . I remmeber him saying he would get the troops out immiedately. Then it was over a short period of time, then it was over 16 months . I think the last time I heard anything on his policy it was immiedate again. He is consistent. He is consistently cganging his mind. He is all about change.

    July 5, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. Sue

    He is absolutely correct, he has been very consistant with this and he has not changed his position. It is unbelievable to me how the press is caring on about this. He has always said we had to get out as carefully as we were careless getting in. He has always said that he would give the commanders on the ground a "new mission" to bring the war to an end. And he has always said he would do this at a pace of 1-2 brigades per month, keeping in mind the safety of the military. So why the uproar....other than to have McCain change the subject....the press should be wiser than that. Shame on the press....we want honest coverage not slanted to make a headline or story.

    July 5, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. california

    obama 08!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 5, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. TOMIWA OBAMAISHOPE

    The Press most times just heat up issues when there are none and GOP as usual will try to take advantage of these "gaff" which at the end of the day makes them look silly. The guy is only saying his visit will inform his strategy for pulling out. That is not flip flop to me, that only makes sense.

    July 5, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. LUIS BARRETO

    WHY NOT RELEASE SOMETHING HIDE BY DEMOCRATIC PARTY TO BRINGBACK PEOPLE THREATENING TO WALK OUT OF THE PARTY UNITY. THEY KNEW NOTHING AND CARE NOTHING WHEN FINALLY RIGGED VOTE TO PUT SEN. CLINTON ,OUT OF THE BATTLE RACE, PORTRAYING OBAMA., CAUSING VOTERS THE NEED TO GO SOME WHERE ELSE////

    July 5, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. judyb

    Could someone please tell me what McCain's position on the Iraq war is besides wanting to stay there for maybe 100 years...or at the minimum, at least another 5 years?

    If we stay another five years, we'll be in debt another trillion or so to China. Great way to invest in America! Obama for President!

    July 5, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    I think he is young handsome, ambitious and understandly confused about his place in society and more importantly his desire to be President of a nation and a mighty dollar in question. Show me the money and how your decisions will affect the rest of the world especially Iraq and Afghanistan. No more flip flops.

    July 5, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. INDEPENDENT WHITE WOMAN

    CNN......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," ..........LOOKING for a FLIP FLOP.........They need to talk to McSame's Camp it's plenty of flip flopping going on @that CAMP

    July 5, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. Judgement over experience anyday

    Yes, Obama has been very consistent on his stand regarding Iraq – he was unspoken against it from the beginning when it was very unpopular to be and he has consistently said he will begin withdrawing troops immediately. I don't even know why this is an issue, more repuglican smear tactics to brainwash people and some are too stupid to realize it. Shame on them. Mccain has been consistent too – he has no plan.

    July 5, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  12. lil

    Tucker Bounds said and who is Tucker Bounds supposed to be
    He's just another mouth piece for Mccain. Just cause Tucker Bounds
    said dont make it true just another person pushing a story and mincing words. Nobody and mean nobody can lie like mccain and
    he has already said he will keep the troops there for another 100
    years and iam quit sure that he will bomb bomb bomb Iran if he is
    elected.
    So shout up Tucker Bounds you make me sick, you and you boss
    john mcain.

    July 5, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  13. dorothy martin

    I am not surprised, the reporter are going along with what John McCain
    is saying

    July 5, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  14. Brian for Sanity

    This guy Barack is about as consistent as any politician that is willing to sell his soul to get elected. I just feel sorry for the American people, because when they eventually find out what they bought it will be too late. He offers nothing when it comes to solutions, he just talks and talks and talks and talks some more.

    Obama is like Cotton Candy, it looks good till you have it and realize its nothing but sugar. He doesn't even know what he would do if he is elected. How he can be up in the polls is beyond belief.

    The stock market has been bracing for this guy to be elected and believe me a great deal of this country's wealth will leave this country if this moron on business is elected.

    He will do nothing for the oil crisis, Dr. No.
    He will tax businesses that are employing people.
    He will tax us because he didn't think Bush's tax breaks were a good thing for the economy, when all the facts say they created a millions of jobs.

    Well with this empty suit, you can be guaranteed of one thing with his taxes, and that is the loss of millions of jobs over four years. Don't believe me, just ask anybody that understands business.

    Barack will try to replace business with government, and its scary, trying to create jobs by artificially creating it in Congress. When did the government ever do anything invovative for the economy? The answer is never.

    July 5, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  15. Terri

    THE PRESS HAS HAD A BORING WEEK APART FROM THE RESCUE OF THE HOSTAGES...THEREFORE, THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE NEWS OF SOMETHING ANY SENSIBLE PERSON WILL SAY....OBAMA HAS sAID HE WILL END THE WAR, NEVERTHELESS, WHEN HE IS BETTER INFORMED AFTER HIS VISIT HE WILL BE A BETTER PLACE TO GIVE SPECIFICS AND REFINE HIS POSITION. HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT TO UNDERSTAND.? MY HIGH SCHOOLER FOUND SOME OF THE PRESS QUESTIONS SO JUVENILE, AS IF THE WERE SCRAPING THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL TO FIND A SPIN FOR THE JULY 4TH WEEKEND. COMMON PRESS PEOPLE.....WE ARE AN EDUCATED PUBLIC! PLEASE PROVIDE IS WITH THE INFORMATION NOT AN INTERPRETATON OF IT!

    July 5, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  16. Alison, FL

    yes CNN, you are guilty of this as well..you are following the McShame's camp talking points!

    July 5, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. David, Silver Spring MD

    This is silly. Obama spoke out against the war before it even started and has been speaking out against it ever since. Now the Republicans are trying to portray him as if he isn't all that interested in getting out. All this while McCain says he's okay with troops being there for decades.

    Now all of a sudden we want to question Obama's intentions because he's not so dogmatic as to say that nothing can influence the arbitrary timeline he has proposed. Ridiculous!

    This would be funny except that the Republicans have tried this before: attacking Kerry on his Vietnam service.

    July 5, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. canada

    Obama don't worry most reasonable people understand what you are saying and we love you here in canada i wish we could vote.

    July 5, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. marty from Indiana

    Clearly John McCain and the Republicans can't hear. Obama has been entirely consistent on his position. He plans to pull out the troops within 16 months.... but in a safe manner. He hasn't changed his position.... he isn't flip-flopping at all. He is going to talk to the generals and gather information on "HOW" to organize a safe exit strategy. That is what good leaders do.... they gather good information before making a strategic move. Too bad McCain didn't take the time to read the intelligence reports before sending IN the troops.

    July 5, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Democrat No More/San Diego

    Obama must believe we are all stupid and easily fooled. He is anything but consistent. He said what people wanted to hear during the primary and now he is saying what he needs to say to get elected. How is Obama any different than any other politician?

    July 5, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  21. go away mongers- Ventura ca

    He absolutely HAS been saying the same thing since 2002. The one's who distort this are the same ones who take a part of a sentence and turn it into something they can "use". The same old republican tricks–NOT THIS TIME! Not gonna work! GO AWAY MONGERS!

    July 5, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  22. Brandon

    I have been aware of the Media coverage for a while. I understand how the game is played inorder to make news. CNN is no different from any other news station and if they see an opportunity to provide negative press they will do it. I dont feel like they are bias they just no that Obama is winning so far so they have to try give McCain something to work with.

    July 5, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. William Courtland, Southern Ontario

    So I appreciate that Mr. Obama is a Senator, yet he is not retired, and he is worth a great deal of money from a good career and thus could be an excellent Member of Congress, but he is a democrat.

    The individual independent is America, and I could argue that the party system has robbed the American populous of all the good independents by simply existing, but the job is just not worth it for those of common capital interest when in comparison to market share and thus it only invites those who want the position as a financial or personal play thing, like through a party.

    What is the job pool for President? What of a 'by federal public' nominational and 'State jury checked' processing for candidacy along with the current electoral college. Those announced as running for the federal high offices must stop their public campaign funding upon the acceptance for federal registration, and this while state registrations is streamlined for federal elections which would record the nationwide inclusion of all naturally born citizens as to there nomination counts; self nomination also counts, and a party only petitions and presents for a change by Constitutional ammendment and those of such a party are not always required in office.

    You the American people are congress, you just use a representative, the President is everyones employee, as are all Presidents when you use their product or service.

    July 5, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  24. Rational1

    Barack, you know the 10 times rule already. Because of who you are, and who your father was, to challenge the pathological narcissist your plight is to perform 10 times better, state your position 10 times more with 10 times the accuracy, show 10 times the patriotism. Continue with 10 times the knowledge, because you have already 10 times the integrity, education and leadership skills. Keep your head up, you know the game...just make sure you play 10 times more fairly.

    July 5, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. Lisa from VA`

    We need a president who is willing to make changes when and IF they are necessary. Who wants another George Bush who will NEVER admit he's wrong and NEVER change his mind even when he KNOWS he's wrong.....stay the course no matter what it costs or who gets killed. Personally I've had enough of that.

    July 5, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9