ABC’s Sara Just reports: Barack Obama told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly that the surge worked "in ways that nobody anticipated” but at enormous cost.
In part one of a pre-recorded interview that will continue to air over several nights next week, and tonight’s portion airing directly as the Republican National Convention was taking place, the two focused on the war and security.
On the subject of the war in Iraq, O’Reilly began by praising Obama for being "perspicacious" (yes, precipicacious) on the decision to go to war, but asked why the Democrat has not been more positive about the results of the troop surge that increased American boots on the ground last year:
OBAMA: ….There is no doubt that the violence is down and that is a testament to the troops that were sent and General Patraeus and Ambassador Crocker. I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters….
O’REILLY: But if it had been up to you there would not have been a surge. You and Joe Biden, no surge.
OBAMA: Hold on, if you look at the the debate that was taking place. We had gone through five years of mismanagement of this war, which I thougth was disastrous, and the president wanted to double down and continue and open-ended policy that did not create the kind of pressure on the Iraqis to take responsibility and reconcile.
O’REILLY: But it worked, come on.
OBAMA: Bill, look – I already said it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
O’REILLY: Why can you not say, ‘I was right in the beginning, but I was wrong on the surge?’
OBAMA: Because there is an underlying problem with what we have done. We have reduced the violence. But the Iraqis have still not taken responsibility. And we still do not have the kind of political reconciliation — we are still spending, Bill, $10 billion or $12 billion a month
O’REILLY: And if you’re president, I hope you can get them to kick in on that.
OBAMA: They’ve got $79 billion dollars in the dirt
O’REILLY: I’ll go with you.
OBAMA: Let’s go!