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. dash

    He insists, he has been lying all the way through. He insists the whole world is behind smears except he. Barrack Soros wrapped up DNC and whole America with it's money. CNN won't publish it as usual.

    July 5, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. ljc

    I added a comment a couple hours ago. It was negative on the media, I see it never made it through. Confirms my point, I guess.

    July 5, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. Chuck

    WOW!!! Did you see that flying monkey?

    Yeah Right Snowbama!!!


    July 5, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. ljc

    2 and a half hours later. same comment pending. Is this Fox News?

    July 5, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. Gene

    He has a very hard time thinking on his feet. He makes a great speech, but he has that in front of him when giving his speech. This is at least the second flip flop on the war and the time table to bring the troops home. He has now flip flopped on the war, abortion rights, FISA, trade,etc. Check Puma out and you will get some great insights to what some great Democrats are trying to do to make sure her name is placed into nomination and they are working on the super delegates to support her, because Obama can not win the general election and she will.

    July 5, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. linda from South Dakota

    welll,, go figure,, the reporters only report what they feel is important and stretch out the bad/good,, dependin on who it is ,,,, this wr does need to come to a end,, and ast,, like bush said months ago that he would send troops home.. well now he says he wants that extension and more troops,, umm makes one think a bit huh??? reporters always want stories and they can blow them out of whack,, lol,, yea right,,,, but obama,, stay cool,, your change will make a difference and im reay for it 100%

    July 5, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. Susan,NC

    Obama has been very consistent. It's the same message when he's up and when he's down. The media is the one that inconsistent looking for a story. Go to BarackObama.com or the Daily Kos. CNN has lost the trust of viewers trying to be like with Fox "fix" news.

    I'm voting for Obama 08!!!!!!!!

    July 5, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  8. Texas Trail Dog

    and he has.

    July 5, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. Andrea. California

    "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,"

    You know, he really needs to start taking responsibility for HIS positions. When something is in question, it is always "Our". A leader takes responsibility.

    July 5, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. Greg, Brattleboro, VT

    I, a stupid man, understand Obama's stance on Irak better than the so called great journalists. There is no shift on this. You better go back to the previous debates if you want to understand the man. He is clear on this one!

    July 5, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. Reality Check

    You better stay consistent with your message, or become Bobby Jinda (Two face).

    July 5, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  12. Jim Wagner

    He was for withdrawl from Iraq before he was against it. Love how he duped the Looney Left to win the primary and how abandons them in his quest for the big house. Duped, hoodwinked, and bamboozeled.

    They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning...

    July 5, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  13. Independent for facts

    I have been following all candidates carefully since they all started campaigning. With respect to Obama's position on the war on Iraq, it has not changed.I am quite surprised by how the media has over blown the statements Mr. Obama made.
    The fact is that Mr. Obama wants to get US out of Iraq asap. I dont think his position has changed. Now it may not happen in the 16 months he has suggested.
    But having a president who intends to bring an end to this war asap, is a huge difference from one who intends to stay in Iraq for 10+ yrs.(ie McCain) This war is killing our economy people. At least 10 BILLION a month! I am glad Iraq is stable now – so we can leave. We need a president who can convince our allies especially in the Middle East and Europe so we can have a peace keeping force in Iraq.

    July 5, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. John McCain-McFlip-Flop-McBush is no "maverick"

    It's laughable that the McSham campaign would even consider jumping on these comments since Grampy can't even keep Iran and Iraq or Sunni and Shi'ites straight (unless Lieberman or Lindsey Graham have their hand up his back moving his mouth). Maybe he should rename his broken down bus and new plane. Now if that broken down bus isn't a metaphor for McCain's prospects in this election, I don't know what is!

    July 5, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Well, it's a very nuanced argument, and I don't know if many people get it. As you are surrounded by politicians these days, remember to be grounded in Christ and commune w/ Him at night.

    I know John McCain's faith is weak, but your faith is stronger, so use it. Remember, the historical Christ might be dead, but his spirit is very much alive. Rather than ask Him, how do I bring victory, ask Him how do I bring peace to His people? Knock, and He will answer. How strong is your faith?

    As a leader of the country, your obligation is to look out for the welfare of the people in this country. As a Christian, your obligation is to look out for the welfare of His people – which is practically everybody. As God said, there's nothing wrong w/ being selfish and watch out for your interest, as long as you define that self to include everybody.

    July 5, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. Good ol Dem

    Same old Obama. We just need someone from the campaign to tell us what he really meant. An Obamatranslator........

    July 5, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  17. Larry Buchas

    One thing's certain. Barack will get us out of Iraq. McCain will not. The cost in support and lives has well exceeded our limits.

    There is only one choice this election and that's Barack Obama

    July 5, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  18. Garrett in Montana

    I agree with you "Independent for facts" what Iraq needs is a peace keeping force. We can keep some special troops to make sure Al Queda does not form a base there like in Afghanistan.
    There is nothing flip-floping about listening to generals on the ground have to say. But the president sets the agenda and the generals give their advice. Lets not forget it was president Bush and Congress (McCain was a strong supporter of the war) that decided we go to WAR without concrete evidence.The fact is we are in Iraq because of president Bush's "idea" of a democratic Iraq. We have to seriously consider the ideology of pple we vote for. Politicians will always be politicians because its the way we are as human beings (we will say anything to get what we want). I hope the media will ask McCain what he saw in the intelligence documents that made him support the war so strongly at the start. (we know the democrats were chicken)
    Its all about ideology. Politicians will always change what they say because the people with the power ( voters) change what they say. But the ideology of a person never changes

    July 5, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  19. CE

    I guess since Obama was selected as the presumptive nominee based solely on speeches that he thinks his followers are not smart enough to see what he is doing. He is changing his positions on almost every stance he took in the primary.

    I have faith that most of his supporters will see right through him and not vote for such a chameleon.

    Just Say No Deal!

    July 5, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  20. Abby

    No obama that is NOT what you said – We were listening during the primary – and you have LIED – again!

    Obama is an Arrogant, Radical Fraud – and NOT qualified to lead our country.

    July 5, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. not important

    McNixon will be in Iraq for 100 years.

    July 5, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. Fullerton, CA

    Poor Hillary. She was defeated due to one of the reasons was Iraq troop withdrawal. Now after he won, he changed his position. Not sure on what else will he "change" if he wins the general election.

    July 5, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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