Obama Changed Position on War Funding


In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said that his votes to fund the war in Iraq do not contradict his opposition to the war.

"Once we were in, we were going to have some responsibility to try to make it work as best we can," the presidential candidate said. "More importantly, you make sure the troops are supported. I don't think there's any contradiction there whatsoever. We should not get in; once we were in, we had to make the best of a bad situation."

There isn't necessarily a contradiction in this position; other opponents of the war vote to fund the troops so as to ensure they're as safe as possible. But there certainly seems a contradiction between this view of war funding and Obama's view just a few years ago, after the war in Iraq had been raging for more than six months.

Obama Opposed War Funding in 2003

In video obtained by ABC News of a Winnetka, Ill., Democratic event from Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, then-state senator Obama told a cheering crowd that it was wrong to vote to fund the war.

"Just this week, when I was asked, would I have voted for the $87 billion dollars, I said 'No,'" Obama said to applause as he referred to a bill to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I said no unequivocally because, at a certain point, we have to say 'No' to George Bush," Obama said. "If we keep on getting steamrolled, we are not going to stand a chance."


Obama's campaign says that he opposed the $87 billion war supplement because a portion of the funds were to be directed toward reconstruction of Iraq, which he feared would be distributed inappropriately.

"He was against this $20 billion in no-bid contracts that was forced into the bill for reconstruction for the country of Iraq with no accountability," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

In a questionnaire he completed for the liberal group Council for a Livable World and in a 2003 press release he issued as a state senator, Obama suggested the Congress delay the $87 billion in funding "until the president provides a specific plan and timetable for ending the U.S. occupation, justifies each and every dollar to ensure it is not going to reward Bush political friends and contributors, and provides 'investment in our own schools, health care, economic development and job creation that is at least comparable' to what is going to Iraq."

But at the time, Obama's public statements suggested he opposed voting for the supplement as a way of opposing the president's overall strategy in Iraq, and not just the reconstruction funds.

Obama told the Chicago Sun Times in November 2003 that he opposed the funding because it "enables the Bush administration to continue on a flawed policy without being accountable to the American people."

And in that Council for a Livable World questionnaire he completed while a Senate candidate in September 2003, Obama wrote that he wanted to delay approving the additional funds until President Bush provided a timetable for withdrawal, although the Obama campaign notes that he also wrote he was concerned about the reconstruction money going to political friends of the White House.

Clinton Camp Counters Obama's Iraq War Stance

The Clinton campaign has aggressively tried to point out or poke holes in how consistent Obama's anti-war stance has been.

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