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

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

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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/05/art.obamaplane070508.ap.jpg caption="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. Tony, Miami

    Don't be surprised by McEnd comments Senator Obama, he doesn't have much to say so he has to wait until you talk to try to find something to say. Everybody heard you loud and clear about Iraq, the same way we heard McEnd eager to stay in Iraq for 100 years.

    July 5, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Phantom of the Oprah

    This hypocrit says one thing...

    then he says "let me be clear" and changes it...

    then he says "don't parse my words" and "let me be clear"- and changes it again.

    Eventually, with all the changes and being clear, he hopes to persuade you that what he NOW says is what he always said.

    And he never tells the truth. It is deja vu time agin...Just like with the bitter comments. He really spun that from a dismissive slur to saying he meant it was a good thing.

    July 5, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Tracy

    I beleive Obama said that he would visit with military leaders on the front and refine as needed. What else would one in his position do?
    I want the U.S. to leave this second, but can also see thats since we are already there, we can't leave this second. Candidates have talked about different plans. Obama's talk about meeting with military leaders doesn't say he changed his plan, but migt refine based on what people on the ground say right now. This is not 'flip flopping' it is logical.

    July 5, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  4. Phantom of the Oprah

    Why does the media allow him to lie?

    Just show the clips... we all remember seeing them.

    July 5, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. ohio

    you media want to throw obama under the bus, what a shame on msm and mcbush.

    July 5, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Florida

    Right... Just as he hasn't flip-flopped on other divisive issues. Most candidates move to the center. But with Obama, we dont really know if he's genuine because he does not have any legislative accomplishments to back his positions. Talk about buyer's remorse.

    July 5, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |

    I'm personally tired of the media trying to control the minds and the votes of this country's citizens.

    It needs to stop. We need news – not gossip.

    If you all want McCain, just say so and quit deceiving those that don't think for themselves.

    July 5, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. phony baloney Obama

    He can insist all he wants... but we all remember him "parsing" words with Hillary as he tried to trash her nuanced position of a carefully Planned withdrawal that took the safety of our troops and our Iraqi supporters into account.

    Obama tried to pin her to a time table. She was smart and avoided making promises now for a future still not known.

    He committed to an immediate withdrawal.

    July 5, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. McCain=the draft

    Obama's been very consistent in his position, and I trust him to get us out of Iraq in a responsible manner. If it means tweaking things, that's fine with me.

    It's McCain who's changed his position on almost every issue, depending on the political climate, and he gets away with it!
    How about holding his feet to the fire CNN!

    July 5, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. Mike Cobb, Palo Alto, CA

    I can't imagine why Senator Obama is surprised at the way the press covers his every word the way they do. Clearly, the new standard of American journalism is the 'gotcha' story. Instead of focusing on content and substance, they care about finding any way to sensationalize a story. A recent example is the way that General Clark's simple statement of fact that McCain's experience as a pilot and prisoner did provide executive experience got twisted into a criticism of McCain's war service. In this desperately important election, we some good, old fashioned, honest, non-sensationalist journalism so the American people will really understand the policy differences between the candidates. Does anyone think that will actually happen?

    July 5, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  11. rachel

    of course it should be spin instead of spend?? my bad.

    July 5, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. Last Honest Man

    LIar! Liar! pants on fire. Thats about as original as the crap this politician
    has been spewing.

    July 5, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. M

    When ever I see a picture of Obama and Clinton together, my eyes are always drawn toward Clinton. She just carries that kind of presence.

    July 5, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. ben

    Obama do not let the republican against you force you on the defensive. Hillary tried the same tactics and went from 20 point lead to a lost camaign!
    Ignore them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They will keep sharp shooting with the same old worn out attacks, and all you have to do is keep inspiring our nation and believe me they will crumble just as Hillary did!

    July 5, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. RJ, CA

    "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.

    Gee, Obama - surprised that the press FINALLY - for one brief, shining moment - actually treats you like any other candidiate. Rude awakening, huh?

    July 5, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  16. Sandra Pinto

    Please Mr Obama do not be waylaid by all the negative press and sore losers. You do NOT need Hillary Clinton on your ticket as V.P. She had EVERYTHING going for her the entire Democrat machine behind her (they probably wrote you off behid closed doors) and you DID IT. YOU BEAT the Clintons and they are still smarting. You do not need Bill Clinton either they represent 16 years of old Washingtom politics and that is what you need to turn your back on. You have the support of millions of inteliigent Americans who are looking for change who are hungry for change. The world needs a new kind of leadership and they need to have their confidence in the United States of America restored. Do not be scared and intimidated by scaremongers and nay sayers they are afraid of change and they can see it and smell it in the air. God bless you and keep you strong and resilient.

    July 5, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  17. Chris in NY

    I can hear it now...."after speaking with the military commanders on the ground, I believe that it is in not only our best interest, but Iraq's best interest to maintain our current posture..."

    July 5, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  18. Linda

    "As careful getting out as we were careless getting in." That was a common phrase for Obama throughout the primary. I've read the recent reports on this "controversy" and I don't understand, either, why he's being accused of flip-flopping on this issue.

    At any rate, we know Obama will bring the troops home long before McCain would.

    July 5, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  19. Alex

    CNN you started this... that jessica woman... you are covering up your own tracks...

    July 5, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. american in canada

    sounds like the republicans are getting scared.... trying to accuse obama of flip-flopping.

    OBAMA 08!

    July 5, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  21. rexx

    Obama is a typical Chicago machine politico. Mr flip flop won't be president though because McCain isn't getting kicked off the ballot by a bunch of political bosses to clear the way for him. Welcome to President McCain.

    July 5, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  22. George

    No he is a lier. He won his nomination partly because of his lies.

    July 5, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. Cindy,CA

    Keep saying it enough and maybe people will believe you. I gave up on Obama keeping his word and will wait and see what the final results of his policies are. He isn't who he was in the early primaries. I don't know who or what he is now. Too socialist for me...

    July 5, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. BAM

    Flip-Flop! Flip-Flop! Flip-Flop! BUT, if you say it, Mr. Obama, then it MUST be the HOLY GRAIL!!! Everyone bow down, kiss his feet and leap from cliffs!!! He gives SICKENING a whole new meaning!

    July 5, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. Timber

    PLEASE! Give us some credit for our intelligence! We have ears and eyes and a brain, don't be patronizing. You have insulted the intelligence of the american people from day one with your "bitter" comments and all the rantings of your buddies like Wright (who you say you did not hear his racist rants during 20 years of listening to him), Rezcko (gave you a nice deal on your house when the rest of us are forclosing) and Plfleger (sexist, loud mouthed bad mannered, racist). What do you take us for Mr. Obama?

    July 5, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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