Sen Obama: Leading on Iraq from the Beginning

Barack Obama opposed the war from the verystart, introduced a plan for withdrawal, has urged citizens to keep thepressure on GOP senators—a strategy that is working

MANCHESTER , NH—As more bad news pours in from Iraqand the Senate embarks on two weeks of renewed debate on the war, many of those who initially supported the war—Democrat and Republican alike—are now speaking out against it. Senator Barack Obama has been a leading critic of the war from day one, publicly opposing the invasion in 2002 when it was politically dangerous to do so, and leading the effort to convince Republican senators to vote to end the war.

“The single most important judgment a president or Member of Congress can make is the decision to send our troops into harm’s way,” Senator Obama said. “When I opposed this war before it began in 2002, I was about to run for the United States Senate and I knew it wasn’t the politically popular position. But I believed then and still do that being a leader means that you’d better do what’s right and leave the politics aside, because there are no do-overs on an issue as important as war.”

In January, Obama introduced a plan to begin redeploying American troops with the goal of bringing all combat brigades home by March 31, 2008. This spring, George Bush vetoed a bipartisan bill adopting that timeline.

Since then, Senator Obama has been urging Americans to tell their senators to vote to bring our troops home—and it’s working. Here in New Hampshire, more than 550 Obama volunteers circulated a petition calling on the state’s Republican senators to vote the right way. The two senators now admit a change of course is needed in Iraq.

Obama vowed to keep the pressure on as Senate debate continues this week.

“Today we received yet another report telling us that Iraq’s political leaders have not met the goals they set for themselves to demonstrate any kind of progress towards stability,” Obama said.“They have had their chances and George Bush has had his—we cannot keep our troops in the middle of a civil war that Iraq’s leaders refuse to end. It’s time to bring them home.”