July 3rd, 2008
03:58 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama denies altering proposed Iraq withdrawal timeline

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/03/art.obama0703.ap.jpg caption="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. john williams san diego, ca.

    Playing FLIP-FLOP with the loony liberals again..

    July 3, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Marc

    Pander to the left, pander to the right... would the real Barack Obama please stand up?

    July 3, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Jason

    Wow! So everything he ran on in the primary has changed. He was not joking when he said "change you can believe in" but he should have just said I am about wholesale change for me and no one else. He can attack McCain for changing stance on issues but since his campaign is about change I guess its OK for him. LOSER!

    July 3, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. gary


    July 3, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Mike D

    cue the Hillary/McCain loudmouths' teeth-gnashing

    July 3, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. William Courtland, Southern Ontario

    Replace troops with builders and their security force.

    Build like ants in the places where little life is found. Marianas Trench walls, mountain tops, cliff edges and to the hills behind them hollow them and use solar focusing and light tubes or light falls.

    July 3, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Jeff Long

    Obama will flip-flop on this one too. The troops are not coming home in 16 months so just forget about it.

    July 3, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Saad from NJ

    I like Senator Obama and want him to become the President but he is going to HAVE TO alter the withdrawal timeline. There is no way to pull out of Iraq as immediately as he had claimed on the campaign trail. That would result in a disaster in the region. I knew that from the very beginning.

    July 3, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. 4obama

    the more information you get the better the plan of withdraw...Obama, a great husband a great dad a great man...a GREAT PRESIDENT 08.
    dumpmccain.com know the truth

    McCain even flip flopped his wife, his country, his campaign team...whats next?

    July 3, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. ANGIE

    good going obama your doing the right thing by going to iraq to see for yourself what the situation is and if you should change so be it i trust you will make the right decision!!!

    July 3, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Where is all this talk coming from? Obama has always said that he would be careful and would listen to the commanders on the ground. I would hope any intelligent person would do the same thing. He is already proposing to spend the money elsewhere that we are now spending in Iraq. Sounds like he plans to get the troops out to me.

    July 3, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. wiser

    What a phony! America better be smarter this time and choose a war hero with experience not a zero!

    Democrats for McCain 08

    July 3, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Judgment over experience

    Obama wants to make an enlightened judgment call. He is brilliant and will lead this country well unlike the unstable, high risk and poor judgment of mcwar. Mcwar I believe will have us in another war within a year his he is potus.

    July 3, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. ChicagoJosh

    As a longtime Obama supporter (koolaid drinker), i'm very comfortable with this. He always said we have to be careful getting out. I was against this war from the start, but even i know we can't just up and leave. We broke it, now we have to fix it. But our goal has to be to leave. McCain, does not have the intention of giving up control of Iraq. That, is the fundamental difference.

    Obama will leave Iraq, and it will be peaceful.

    July 3, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Anita from Arizona

    The GOP is nit picking now? I'd rather a president review and research every avenue before making any life threatening decisions with our troops. That's leadership, good judgement, integrity because he is the only candidate that will end the senseless war. McCain wants 50 to 100 years (too slow). Clinton wanted 60 days (too fast).

    July 3, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. That's Reality

    Of course Obama will not respond directly because he just doesn't know what to say. Why do you think he has refused to vote on congressional legislation so often. He hasn't a clue! I can't believe he's gotten this far in politics. Vote for McCain; a man of integrity who is not afraid of the terrorists.

    July 3, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. That's Reality

    Of course Obama will not respond directly because he just doesn't know what to say. Why do you think he has refused to vote on congressional legislation so often. He hasn't a clue! I can't believe he's gotten this far in politics. Vote for McCain; a man of integrity who is not afraid of the terrorists. C'mon CNN, how but some diversity in opinion on this blog.

    July 3, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. libertyjack, Fort Myers

    How dare anybody say he's changing his position.
    It doesn't matter that he says something different for every audience because he's just telling them what they want to here–and of course that has no basis on what he will do.

    So what will he do? Just as vague as ever on that issue. I'll wait for an answer while he considers it over the long weekend (and gets a good prepared answer ready).

    July 3, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Kshama

    Ofcourse, Obama has changed his position. He knows that he cannot "honestly" uphold his statements a few months ago about bringing the troops home in 16 months. Senator Obama is now learning what "accountability," and your "words" mean to the trust of the American people. To quote Senator Obama: "Don't tell me words don't matter." An experienced person, knows that as the next President of the United States, a Republican or Democrat, will not be able to quickly shut down the Iraq war without consequences for America. This is sad, but it's true. This definitely shows Obama's "pandering" and lack of foreign policy experience. How can you be so quick to say that you will negotiate with the leader of Iran, as an example, without preconditions. Yet, be so quick as to say the timetable for ending the war in Iraq? Can anyone answer this? Please don't tell me that with Iran, Senator Obama actually meant, we must go into the meeting with careful consideration. As POTUS you would be giving importance to a nation whose leader said they would like to wipe Israel off the face of the map or even denied that the Hallocaust ever existed. Give credit to Senator Obama for the great "spin" on this though. From a not so easily fooled American citizen.

    July 3, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  20. Jonathan

    I hope you all are intellectually honest and do not create the new media-driven narrative - "Obama flips on Iraq" because it is just not true. The same Iraq statements are on his website and have been for months. Once again, the media is desperate for a close race and these trial balloon memes are pathetic. Obama is up in Montana - THAT IS NEWS!!! Stop making crap up and grow some journalistic integrity!!!

    July 3, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Scott

    If Obama changes his war position, he's toast. People like me who have been with him since Day One will bolt. Stop lurching to the right, Obama!

    July 3, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    You know the more I think about it; we need to get out of Iraq as fast as we can. I do not care what happens to that country, we need to focus our attention here at home. If Iran wants it; let them have it, this war is bankrupting our economy.

    So Obama all you have to do is order a with-draw, and let the Iraqies deal with it. We should have stayed out of that country! If we stay in this country we will give big oil the right away to move in.

    We need to get off of OIL this is our #1 issue. Let Iran and Iraq have there OIl.

    July 3, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. SZ

    "I mean we can chase this around, you know, for a long time."

    Well, yes, let's chase this around, you know. Justifying a change in policy by splitting rhetorical hairs isn't good enough, Senator.

    July 3, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  24. William

    Wow. With all the filp flopping, by the time November 4 gets here, Obama will be a Republican.

    The kind of person who will lie to your face and tell you they're not something they are is the kind of person you need to be worried about. Typical politician.

    Change. Yes he will. Over and over again. Disgusting liar.

    July 3, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. That's Reality

    I try to add comments but I guess you just don't want people to hear an opinion that might shed some light on the fact that Obama doesn't have a clue as to what's going on.

    July 3, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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