ABC News’ David Wright and Sunlen Miller Report: On October 2, 2002 state legislator Barack Obama made a speech on his opposition to the Iraq war as a candidate for the United States Senate. On October 2, 2007, United States Senator, Barack Obama made the speech as a presidential candidate.
Five years later his opposition on the Iraq war hasn’t changed: he was against going in, and now he’s against staying in.
Drawing distinct comparisons to his top competitors for the Democratic nomination, without mentioning them by name, Obama used the fact that he was the only top candidate who did not vote to authorize a war in Iraq in 2002.
“Some seek to rewrite history. They argue that they weren’t really voting for war, they were voting for inspectors, or for diplomacy…. And we need to ask those who voted for the war: how can you give the President a blank check and then act surprised when he cashes it,” Obama questioned then forcefully stated, “Let’s be clear: without that vote, there would be no war.
Speaking before large crowds in three cities, in Illinois and Iowa, the Senator took advantage of the symbolism of the day to not only resurrected the memory of his opposition to the war from the start, but to highlight his plan for withdrawal if elected president.
Obama pledged. “The first thing we have to do is end this war. And the right person to end it is someone who had the judgment to oppose it from the beginning,” and repeated his plan to downsize combat troops quickly but would leave a large contingent of US troops in Iraq indefinitely for counter-terrorism operations.
The senator also used the speech as a way to further define his foreign policy vision if elected president.
“Here’s what I’ll say as President: American seeks a world in which here are no nuclear weapons,” the Senator stated, but made it clear that the US would not purse unilateral disarmament. He promised to depoliticize intelligence gathering and promote more transparency in policy decisions.
And, in an ode to Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats, Obama promise to have regular “fireside webcasts,” including members of his national security team to speak directly to the American people. In addition to the annual State of the Union Address, Obama as president, would give an annual “Sate of the World” address to lay our national security policy. Obama foreign policy advisors say that they don’t have specifics plans yet for the speech, but don’t envision this address to be in front of a joint session of Congress like the State of the Union address.
Joined all day by supporter, Ted Sorensen, a former aide to President Kennedy, the junior senator said he was happy to go toe to toe on experience but argued, “…the conventional thinking today is just as entrenched as it was in 2002. This is the conventional thinking that measures experience only by the years you’ve been in Washington, not by your time spent serving in the wider world” and added “I’m not running to join the kind of Washington group think that led us to war in Iraq – I’m running to change our politics and our policy so we can leave the world a better place than our generation has found it.”
Leaving three stages in front of packed crowds the Senator and presidential candidate received thunderous applause, and chants at a speech in Iowa, playing into Obama’s message, with crowds yelling “turn that page, turn that page!”
In Chicago, as the Senator wrapped up his first address of the day, a DePaul University student showed her arm to a friend and said, “Look, I’ve got the Obama chill.”