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. Travis (in the real world

    Looks like CNN is running short on news headlines

    Are there any good journalists left working for you?

    Between Blitzer talking about Billary for 5 months (which nausiated me

    And the SECOND RATE so called jouralists traveling with McWar what can you expect for a second rate news station.

    Bet you won't post this on CNN

    July 3, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    New information. New agenda. Gee, none of us have every done that in our business or private lives....NOT!

    So, why pick on the candidates when new information brings them to better problem solving. I would not begrudge either candidate changes in position as long as they explain WHY they modiify their position.

    Once upon a time, we didn't have to take off our shoes at the airport either, but ...New information. New agenda.

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

    This man has so little experience, everytime he opens his mouth about an issue, then gets the opportunity to really know the issue, realizes how his first position was totally without good judgement. We don't need a President who continually makes rash judgement calls affecting America only to change that position later on. BHO is not only inexperienced, he is dangerous and not the man we need leading this country. No amount of flowery rhetoric will change the fact that BHO is totally inept at dealing with the issues that are crucial to America in the coming years. We need to dodge this bullet before we end up with four years of disasterous leadership.

    July 3, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Peter E

    He also left out the phrase about how his 'withdrawal' is not going to be complete...
    That's right! Even under democrat plans of 'complete' withdrawal we'd still have tens of thousands of troops left in Iraq...
    Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe...

    July 3, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  5. Jaime in Texas


    July 3, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. SZ

    Fans will interpret every policy change he comes up with as the sign of insight and deliberation. But such changes are just as easily interpreted as the markers of inexperience and uncertainty.

    July 3, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. Please

    America’s new foreign policy: “Present.”

    July 3, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. Susan

    I thought he had perfect judgement?

    It doesn't count as "judgement" if you keep changing your mind until you get it right.

    July 3, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. Leaving the mess that we made is un-American!

    We all knew this, so it's kind of a non-story. We went in and completely up-ended Iraq. Thousands upon thousands of Iraqis have lost family members, their homes, millions of Iraqis are refugees. Tens of thousands of our troops are permanently injured physically and mentally, and our troops are continuing to die for a LIE.

    Walking out and leaving the mess that we made is un-American! We have no idea what next month will bring, let alone January 2009.

    Atleast Obama is addressing and talking about an end to an unjust war. Common sense!

    July 3, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Matt, PA

    Public financing...flip flop
    FISA wiretapping...flip flop
    Taxpayer funded faith-based initiatives...flip flop
    Troop withdrawal...flip flop

    OBAMA IS A LIAR!!!! He said anything to get elected during the primary and now he'll say anything to get elected in the general.

    This Democrat will sit out in November (or vote McCain).

    July 3, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. rs

    don't care as long as he intends to get us out. the alternative is staying there until the iraqis say we can go home.

    July 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. s.positive

    Obama is the next president of USA. The RNC will however try their best to prevent this but cannot succeed no matter how hard they try. It is basically a lost game for the RNC.

    July 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. M. Felder

    These reporters need to be more responsible in their reporting of the facts. Senator Obama has not stepped back from his position to withdraw troops in a responsible and careful manner. As the commander in chief, he says that he will give the generals a new mission and that is to get the troops out. It may mean that the generals have to shift from a combat on the ground mission to a air mission strategy. These generals understand that the tactical mission will have to change. The Iraqy government need to step up their diplomatic efforts with the other region leaders. There is no reason that we need to stay in Iraq. It is so obvious that this war is about the oil and our getting American Oil companies into Iraq to drill for oil.

    July 3, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  14. Canadian View

    Too bad the media has to spin everything to get a story.
    Let the candidates run the race without having to tell you guys first if you see there are better ways to get thier platform right instead of having you trash them later.
    If you want to run the campaigns why dont you guys run. I would rather they change thier mind now than try to fix mistakes when its too late and thats both candidates.
    Just report the going on and not create the stories as you have done for the past two years

    July 3, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. Annette, Washington, DC

    What is up with the press? The man say a few word varations and suddenly wire: ap news flash "Obama has changed position on Iraq". The American people can think, read and understand. We aren't all ignorant to the news reporting. I heard Obama speak both today in ND and reponse to questions. The premise to Obama troop withdrawal has not CHANGED. So what is all the media hip??? I have heard McCain fly all over the place from the economy to foreign policy. Why isn't he gettting hit for some of his what the media calls "flip-flip straight talk express??". This tick for tack media coverage is getting a bit ridiculous. And by the way Obama should visit Iraq to see for himself the situation there, WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH THAT? that doesn't change his premise. That's being a wise commander.

    July 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. Molly

    obama you are a LIAR! – Just ell it like it is – you are a Liar!!!
    Rev Wright was RIGHT – "obama will say whatever he has to – he is a politician"!!!! – and he is right!
    OBama has fooled the entire DNC – it is not too late to CHANGE your mind – you made a "bonehead mistake" – Nominate Hillary!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Nija


    July 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Chris

    I'm shocked. Just shocked.

    July 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. Cynthia

    I remember him saying that we will be as careful getting out as they were careless getting in.

    July 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  20. dennis

    Obama's speeches consist of impact headlines followed by lots of caveats later. If you listen carefully he uses the headlines to pander to the targets of the day and the caveats to cover his butt for later. He and bill clinton are slippery and have their own definitions of "is" As this campaign intensifies, obama will be shown to be the same empty vessel as was Kerry.

    July 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. mitchell hussein martin

    he never gave specific timetable.he will set a GOAL!get it in your heads!he would never be irresponsible enough to do anything that may endanger our troops and our national security interests.he has consistently said this ,it has been on his web-site for almost two years!you people are illiterate!

    July 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Lavallette, NJ

    I am scared of Barack Hussein Obama.

    He does not deserve the Presidency of the USA.. He has not been tested and his supported are being brain washed by his words.

    Obama and his crazy wife will ruin this country – watch are taxes soar for his "special interest" programs.

    This life long democrat will be voting for McCain – we are not a unified party this year because of Obama – no one in their right mind would vote for him.

    July 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. JJ

    Folks seem to be obsessed with the term "Flip Flop" on here. Can a candidate actually think strategically and listen to sound advise and come to another determination about an issue without being called a Flip Flopper?

    July 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. Clinton/McCain

    Flip flop #5343 and counting...

    July 3, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. Albo58

    So, it looks like hope and change couldn't overcome reality after all? However, it's nice to see Sen. Obama is now attending a 'training course" so he can get educated on more of the reality that's going on in the Middle East. It doesn't matter if you were pro/con the Iraqi War, it only matters that you develop a real plan that reduces our presence, while ensuring the sacrifices of the American GI's were not in vain! Being able to give catchy speeches is NOT leadership. Proper planning and tenacity are the tangibles that you need to get the job done. Hopefully in November, the voters will decide that the executive office is not the place to conduct daily OJT courses and send this Jr Senator back to his day time job in the senate!

    July 3, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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