RICHARDSON: No, Charlie, I mean, this is why I'm running for president. Because until we end this war, we cannot talk about the issues that need to be dealt with here: universal health care, improving schools, bringing people together.
RICHARDSON: You can't have change until you end the war, and that means bringing all of our troops home within a year and leaving none behind.
GIBSON: I'm going to take this to Senator Obama and to Senator Edwards.
But -- and I'm not here to debate -- the parliament meets, an oil law is under consideration, de-Baathification has progressed to some extent, and were it not for the surge, instead of counting votes, we'd be counting bodies in the streets.
RICHARDSON: But this has been going on for years, Charlie.
GIBSON: And all of you -- all of you wanted the troops out last year.
RICHARDSON: There is no serious progress.
GIBSON: Would you have seen this kind of greater security in Iraq if we had followed your recommendations to pull the troops out last year, Senator Obama?
OBAMA: Let me respond.
I think the bar of success has become so low that we've lost perspective on what should be our long-term national interests.
It was a mistake to go in from the start, and that's why I opposed this war from the start. It has cost us upwards of $1 trillion. It may get close to $2 trillion. We have lost young men and women on the battlefield, and we have not made ourself safer as a consequence.
Now, I had no doubt, and I said at the time when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence.
But understand, we started in 2006 with intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. We saw a spike in the violence. The surge reduced that violence, and we now are, two years later, back where we started two years ago. We have gone full circle at enormous cost to the American people.
OBAMA: What we have to do is to begin a phased redeployment to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there in perpetuity. Now, it will -- we should be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in.
I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place, although I would point out that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province, Sunni tribes, who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what? -- the Americans may be leaving soon. And we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shias. We should start negotiating now.
That's how you change behavior. And that's why I will send a clear signal to the Iraqi government. They will have ample time to get their act together, to actually pass an oil law, which has been -- they've been talking about now for years. They will actually be able to conduct de-Baathification.
We will support them in all of those efforts.
OBAMA: But what we can't do is to continue to ignore the enormous strains that this has placed on the American taxpayer, as well as the anti-American sentiment that it is fanning, and the neglect that's happening in Afghanistan as a consequence.