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. Allen from Hartwell, GA

    If Republican politicans were scrutinized as closely as the media and GOP policy makers are watching Obama (or other Democrats running for office), then the GOP might be worth a second look when picking someone to vote for. This is the first time that I might vote a straight ticket for a general election.
    The media should concentrate on what the man says, not what you thought he said or what someone else says that he said. Let the GOP spin doctors say what they want, because no one but the media listens to them anymore.

    July 5, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  2. Helen, NY

    This very interesting. What is consistency here. Barack is an educated idiot. One moment he said he wants to refine his policy and next moment he went back to his policy. This is not the way America runs. Barack you are a kid and you need to grow up.

    July 5, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |

    He may insist it but he has not been consistent at all!!!

    But... He is great at making speech after speech and seems to be quite the manipulator...

    We are in for four years of speeches diverting us from ALL of the mistakes.

    The real bummer is, he will be using the United States as his testing ground for experience... Not really fair to us all is it?

    July 5, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. E. C., Houston, Texas


    July 5, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  5. Karen-phoenix

    Read the last sentence!!! Thats exactly what he has been saying all along!!! The republicans are liars, liars and OLD liars!!! And I'm a republican in my 60's and its time to turn life over to our children and the educated youth of this country!!! AND and educated group that is against WAR!!!!

    July 5, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. adam

    Has the press read his book?

    July 5, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. Kyko

    Dear Next Prez:

    "The mouth is the devil, says a proverb. Don't delude yourself; you cannot win an argument against fools. Only fools can convince each other. Stop talking for the sake of talking. We know where you stand on vital issues. Take a break and recharge yourself for the remainder of the marathon.

    July 5, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  8. saga4obama

    i watched this and was mystified by the stupidity of the reporters, i understand now why the news has said nothing about the war crimes of Bush, i understand now why the media will create a bunch of BS about Dr. Rev. Wright and say nothing about McCains causing the deaths of 168 crewmen aboard the USS Forrestal in 1967, his evasion of tax on his So. CA home or his unwillingness to release his military records. corp. media...how a bout some news?

    July 5, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. George

    Hillary Clinton should be careful when she appears together with Barak Obama. For strategic reasons he has consistently been lieing about how to decide about the war in Iraq. Hillary should stay a reserv nominee until August 2008! Obama´s earlier standpoints about Iraq made him the nominee!

    July 5, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. Shannon

    Yeah, as consistent as he has been on public financing, FISA, gun control, the death penalty, abortion rights, Reverend Wright, Unity Church, the gas tax holiday, tax breaks for big oil, he's one consistent guy.

    July 5, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  11. jr

    I think Obama has been consisent on the war. He has always said, "We have to be as careful getting out of this war as we were careless getting in this war.".....It is my understanding that he NEVER intended to just snatch the soldiers out as soon as he takes office.

    I am not the President, but I do know these things takes time.,,,Not 100 years like John McCain propose. I am afraid of John McCain and the Republican's MINDSET that got us into the mess!

    If you think you are going to SPIN this flipflopping charge to try to change the voters mind about the OBAMA...You better think again!

    I can't wait to VOTE again, to finally bring this war to an end, get our troops home, and to get our economy back on track! The REPUBLICANS has made a mess of things! IT IS TIME FOR A CHAAAANGE!!!

    You HILLARY supporters need to put your personal feelings aside and get on board!...Four more years of John McCain, is all the same!

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    July 5, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. Les-Wa


    July 5, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. TJ

    "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"

    And who was going to step up to the task of removing a tyrant that murdered 8000 Kurdish civilians in Halabja with nerve agents? I'm sure if that happened in the United States there would be rioting. This reason alone is the very reason people who say they are against any military action against tyranny should STFU...

    July 5, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Ann

    Mr. Obama is now in the "what I meant was.." stage. If Republicans will continue the attack on his flip flop position, he will try the 'this is smear politics' tactic. If you finally don't shut up, you'll be accused being racists. Not much creativity from this 'politician of change'. But a lot of stupidity on voters' side. You had a good candidate and you blew up your options.

    July 5, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. CAW in MD

    Even if Obama on January 21, 2009 said "I want all the troops out. Now." it's not likely it would happen within his 16 month window. Drawing down 150,000ish troops, along with all the gear, is not something that is going to happen overnight.

    The gist of this story - Obama is going to listen to the experts (the commanders in theater), and then formulate a policy. Contrast that with Bush's style, which was to formulate the policy, then tell the experts either you're with me or fired (think General Shinseki). Or even with McCain, who says we'll be there until we've achieved this elusive "victory" the Republicans (and Lieberman) keep blathering about.

    Which of those three approaches would you favor for Iraq?

    July 5, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. jr

    Obama has been very consistent on the war!...He said, "We have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting it."

    All you are trying to do it paint him as a flipflopper....like John McCain..who has flipflopped on just about everything!

    If you think you can SPIN this on the voters...think again...
    I can't wait to VOTE again!...I am sick of spending money on this war that should have never been authorized and our economy is a mess!

    The REPUBLICANS have got to go!!!!It's time for a REAL change!

    Go OBAMA!

    July 5, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. Keith

    I still will not be voting for Obama in November. He has done nothing to show me he is up to the job of President. Hillary Clinton should be the nominee. For the first time in my life, I am staying home in November.

    July 5, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  18. HiFi

    "McCain was off the campaign trail Saturday, resting with his family at his home in Sedona, Arizona." That's because grumpy old men need lots of rest...while MCain was recovering from his trip to Latin America, Obama was showing true patriotism in Butte, Montana at a parade and 4th of July picnic. His fourth trip to Montana, I might add...the number of times McCain has showed up there? Zippo, nada, zilch.

    You think Montanans haven't noticed? Watch Montana turn blue this year...the "50 state strategy" is already working, with Obama having a 5 point lead over McCain in the state. It's only three electoral votes, but it speaks volumes.

    July 5, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  19. I used to be a Democrat

    Barrack Obama is rediculous!!! Now that he's the nominee he is totally trying to move to the center, closer to John McCain's position on Iraq. He's a flip-flopper on the Iraq war and he is showing America that his words cannot be trusted.

    Friends and Americans, we have no choice but to vote third party. Democrats and Republicans will say and do anything to get elected. They cannot be trusted any longer.

    July 5, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  20. Ron- democrat turned independent via HILLARY then obama

    doesn't obama watch recordings of what he says on debates or the campaign trail. this man continually distorts what he has said on previous occasions, then he lies about what he really meant, then tries to justify it. that's what turned me against him. he does this time and time again, like were not going to catch on. as he that little respect for our intelligence, or is it he is that egotistical

    July 5, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. carlo

    Obama really has been consistent on Iraq. I honestly don't know how the media allows McCain's goonies to dictate to them what their take on something will be. Everyone keeps saying that the press is easy on Obama. I guess they were hibernating during the Rev. Wright scandal, while McCain made and still make at least a gaffe a day. This is evidenced by his shake-up in his campaign staff.

    You reporters at CNN and other networks make entirely too much money to not investigate things and present them in an unbiased way.

    July 5, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. Mauri

    Isn't that the way it always is with politicians? One lie begets another. Having vigorously followed the primary elections and debates, and being of "average" intelligence, I know what Obama said about getting out of Iraq. I know what Hillary's stance was, and I know what John McCain has said. I know how they all criticized one another. And I also know what Obama is now saying - and it matches not with what he said in the past. I hope Wolf Blitzer and the "best political reporters" at CNN really dig into this and go back to get correct statements on getting out of Iraq. If Wolf can show me how Barack has NOT switched his beliefs about Iraq, then I'll immediately make an appointment with a shrink.

    July 5, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. archiesteel

    Seems the Republicans are grasping at straws, and the MSM is only too happy to provide the haystack...

    Honestly, what Obama said about Iraq recently is consistent with what he's said throughout. I don't think McCain is going to score points with this, not when he's got his own mountain of flip-flops to justify.

    July 5, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. A nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Say it ain't so Hillary. You don't want
    to be seen with that girlie man.

    He is a changer all right. He changes his
    positions faster that an infant's diapers get


    July 5, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  25. PUMA-SF

    Obama is a bigger flip flopper then Kerry and he hasn't even been swift boated yet. He's not qualified and I do not trust him.

    Nobama not now not ever.

    Puma Power!

    July 5, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
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