October 3, 2007 in Nation/World

Obama revisits war speech

Alec Macgillis Washington Post
Associated Press photo

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., reiterates his 2002 opposition to the war in Iraq while delivering a foreign policy speech Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

CORALVILLE, Iowa – Seeking to recharge his campaign for the autumn stretch run, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on Tuesday used the fifth anniversary of his 2002 speech against going to war in Iraq to issue some of his strongest criticism yet of the war votes cast by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and other Democratic presidential candidates.

In a morning address at DePaul University in Chicago, and later in Des Moines and this Iowa City suburb, Obama invoked the 2002 speech as proof that he possesses superior judgment, even if he lacks extensive experience in Washington.

“The American people weren’t just failed by a president – they were failed by much of Washington,” Obama said at DePaul. “By a media that too often reported spin instead of facts. By a foreign policy elite that largely boarded the bandwagon for war. And most of all by the majority of a Congress – a coequal branch of government – that voted to give the president the open-ended authority to wage war that he uses to this day. Let’s be clear: Without that vote, there would be no war.”

Obama did not mention Clinton by name but took implicit aim at her claim that her vote in support of the war resolution was intended only to give President Bush more authority to seek weapons inspections in Iraq, and that she did not foresee how Bush would use it.

“Some seek to rewrite history. They argue that they weren’t really voting for war, they were voting for inspectors, or for diplomacy,” Obama said at DePaul, where he also called for a renewed effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons. “But the Congress, the administration, the media and the American people all understood what we were debating in the fall of 2002. This was a vote about whether or not to go to war. That’s the truth as we all understood it then, and as we need to understand it now. 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?”

The Clinton campaign dismissed Obama’s criticisms as a rehash. “We believe voters are focused on the future and on ending the war in Iraq,” said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer.

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