Barack Obama’s statement that he wouldn’t have all troops out of Iraq by the end of his first term is still haunting the senator on the campaign stump. At an event here this morning, a voter held up a sign with the numbers “2013” written on it to get Obama to take a question from him at the town hall.
Obama re-addressed the question he was first asked at the Democratic Debate at Dartmouth two weeks ago, when he, along with the other major Democratic candidates, said they wouldn’t have all troops out of Iraq by the end of their first terms.
At that debate Obama said that he could not guarantee that all troops would be out of Iraq by the end of his first term. Obama qualified that answer today, as he has in previous town halls in New Hampshire and Iowa, by saying that he would keep troops in Iraq for diplomatic, humanitarian and counterterrorism purposes.
A voter called out to Obama that his answer needed to be simpler, to which he responded, “The notion that I have to be as simplistic as the Republicans are, I don’t agree. I have to be honest and realistic.”
He added, “It can’t be done to bring troops out in three to six months.”
Well, as the guy in audience said, needs to be simpler. I still don’t understand why Obama and Edwards didn’t just say “yes, at the end of my first term major combat operations truly will be over in Iraq.” They could go on to qualify that we’ll still need troops to protect the embassy, etc. – people understand that. But the “we can’t remove them in three to six months” line was kind of irrelevant – we’re not talking three to six months, we’re talking 5 years. And throwing in that line about keeping troops there to fight terrorism? Isn’t that Bush’s (phony) reason for having 170,000 troops there right now? And the 170,000 we have there already clearly haven’t taken care of the small number of terrorists who truly are there, so might we need even more troops to take care of “counterrorism”? Again, it’s just a bad answer.