Obama Flexes Anti-Iraq War Credentials

By Karuna Seshasai

Nov 20, 2006 5:14pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis Reports: In a speech calling for a "gradual and substantial reduction in U.S. forces" from Iraq as well as direct US talks with Iran and Syria, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) reminded potential Democratic presidential primary voters today that he publicly opposed the Iraq war before it began.

"Many who supported the original decision to go to war in Iraq have argued that it has been a failure of implementation," said Obama in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "But I have long believed it has also been a failure of conception – that the rationale behind the war itself was misguided."

Obama was not yet in the Senate when Congress voted to authorize the use of force in the fall of 2002. But he spoke out against it as a Senate candidate that year.

"Month after month, and then year after year," Sen. Obama said today, "I’ve watched with a heavy heart as my deepest suspicions about this war’s conception have been confirmed and exacerbated in its disastrous implementation."

All the potential Democratic presidential candidates who were in the Senate at the time of the vote – Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) – all voted to authorize the use of force.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)—one Democratic Senator who was considering a run for the White House and who voted against the Iraq war – announced earlier this month that he would not be running for president in 2008.

Without mentioning Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) by name, Obama also criticized those who have "proposed escalating this war by adding thousands of more troops," saying that ‘it’s not clear that these troop levels are sustainable" and warning that "adding American forces will only relieve the Iraqis from doing more on their own" and that "we would only be putting more of our soldiers in the crossfire of a civil war."

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