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. Connie, Tennessee

    People who never change their minds are stuck at STUPID. We have one of those kind in the White House now and look what it has done for us!

    Vote OBAMA for a better future.

    July 3, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Rachel

    More double talk!!! stop it obama take a stance and keep it. I will continue to refine my polices as warrented(hahaa I will change my opinon based on polls and who I am talking to at the moment.)

    July 3, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. VT in Atlanta

    The nitpicking and hair spliiting by the media is turning people off. Give it a break already.

    July 3, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Christiaan, Norman, OK

    Why is changing your mind in the light of new evidence a sign of weakness? Not with this story in particular, but generally, this idea that we need to elect someone who never changes their mind is ludicrous.

    And what does it say of the value of experience if we hold this idea that a presidential candidate should make up his or her mind and never change it?

    July 3, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. Keith

    McCain will need to find a way to resolve his Iraq dilemma. He supports an open-ended commitment and everyone knows that's not realistic. The President has even admitted that Afghanistan is not going well. The President of Afghanistan was nearly killed recently, 1,000 Taliban fighters escaped prison, and the Taliban is making a come back. We can't let those who supported 9/11 make a come back. We've got to get out of Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan. The Iraqis have no history of support for Al Qaeda and it's only the US invasion than allowed the entry of Al Qaeda into that country. The Iraqis wont let Al Qaeda get strong there because they know that group is bad news. Afghanistan, on the other hand, is the real fight.

    July 3, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Obama DID NOT alter his plans.... MCBUSH is the true flip flopper..... He's running fo Presidency and he has NO PLANS on how to fix the economy! Oh yeah-he dosn't understand economics. OBAMA said he will refine his plans NOT CHANGE them and that's expected once he goes to Iraq..............DUH!

    July 3, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. A.J. in Fla

    The Great Impostor strikes again....!!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. aware

    Obviously Iraq is succeeding, and Obama will have to admit sooner or later that he has been wrong about the war in Iraq! 🙂

    July 3, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Griff

    Japan tried to warn you, with an Add. Nobody knowès more about the A. Bomb than Japan. What its like to be struck by this weapon! Now youi want to self enflict your own A. Bomb... Borack A. Bomb on your own Country...

    July 3, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. urbantexan

    Get it right will ya CNN !!! I am really getting sick of this .

    July 3, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Terence

    How does "I'm sure I'll have more information and continue to refine my policy." suddenly mean "I have changed my mind and will go a totally different direction? Where is the flip?

    July 3, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Kiki

    Liar Liar pants on Fire!

    July 3, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Ellie in Aurora, CO

    So there you go! He restates his position – any questions?

    Go Obama!!

    July 3, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Rick FL

    Obama has a goal of drawing down forces responsibly from an unnecessary debacle in Iraq. This will allow us to use our military forces & other valuable resources more constructively at home and in Afghanistan.

    In contrast, McCain makes statements such as "100 years" in Iraq and "bomb, bomb,bomb Iran." However figuratively intended, it clearly demonstrates a more Bush "stay the course" approach.

    The difference in these two goals could not be more starkly contrasted, which makes the choice clear for many Americans.
    Obama '08

    July 3, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. Jason

    Obama is clueless to what he will do. He is saying whatever he can to get elected. McCain travels to Columbia, hostages are rescued. A tip of the cap to McCain by a world leader. I really doubt Obama and the "Change" campaign will have a positive effect on Iraq or with our troops and coming home.

    July 3, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. Hms

    Another flipflop

    July 3, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Obama doesn't need to change his time line for ending the war in Iraq. If the war is going as great as claimed is all the reason more to withdraw our troops. This isn't a multiple choice situation and that's what McCain and Bush administration is making it into which agains proves incompetence.

    July 3, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. Brian

    "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."

    Surprise Surpise.
    This election scares me. Many Americans are being sucked in a mob mentality. Group think is never a good thing.

    Open your eyes America, he is a flip-flopping, socialist.

    July 3, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. TRUTH

    Refine is not the same as change a stance on something.
    Man, I can't wait till November gets here.

    July 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Bob S Philadelphia, PA

    I am so tired of Obama talking out of both sides of his mouth! First he is bringing the troops home in the first 16 months, now he will listen to the commanders on the ground before he brings them back. He is the biggest FLIP FLOP I have ever seen! So far he hasn't kept one promise. He flipped flopped on campaign financing and now he is flip flopping on the troop withdraw. Why should we believe anything that comes out of his mouth?

    July 3, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Truely a Democrat

    Obama, I trust your judgement. Lead the way and many will stand with you.
    Obama 08

    July 3, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. Travis (in the real world

    Nice try to twist Baraks word McWar.

    Are there no issues to talk about except attacking Barak?

    This will sink your election.....it did the same for Billary.

    July 3, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. Don't blame me I voted for Hillary

    So basically, since the primaries ended, Obama has now backed down on almost every single stance he took to the left of Hillary, leaving him nothing but spineless. Great job, fefllow Dems – you sure picked another loser!

    July 3, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. mitchell hussein martin

    reporters ask same question 14 ways to try and trick obama into changing his position.dumb reporters!

    July 3, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Splurge

    Denying something doesn't mean it never happened. Obama needs to learn that he cannot simply wish away inconvenient facts. Do a simple search and find a timeline on his Iraq withdrawal rhteroic. We all remember what he's said about troop withdrwal from Iraq and how forceful and decisive he was about it. Now it turns out it was all spin (or as we call we when Bush does it....lies.)

    The honeymoon is over. We've been had.

    July 3, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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