Obama changes tune toward opposition
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Bill Sammon, The Examiner
WASHINGTON - Although Barack Obama once made allowances for fellow Democrats who voted for the Iraq war, he is now more critical of presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards.
Obama spoke out sharply against the war as an Illinois state senator in October 2002, just as the U.S. Senate was voting to authorize the conflict. He later adopted a magnanimous attitude toward pro-war Democrats, only to curtail such forbearance upon entering the presidential race.
“Now it’s a campaign and, you know, there are differences,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton told The Examiner. “Ones that are worth discussion.”
To that end, Obama last week took a veiled swipe at Clinton and Edwards, both of whom voted for the Senate resolution authorizing the war, only to later backpedal from their votes.
“The decisions we make in Washington have consequences,” the junior U.S. senator from Illinois told reporters in New Hampshire. “Obviously if the senators [had] voted down the authorization, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in now.”
Burton went even further, telling the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper: “Only Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the start.”
But in 2004, Obama seemed to hedge a bit when asked by a TV interviewer whether he would have voted for the war if he had been in the Senate.
“You know, I didn’t have the information that was available to senators,” he replied. “I know that, as somebody who was thinking about a U.S. Senate race, I think it was a mistake, and I think I would have voted no.”
Obama was equally charitable two days later, when discussing those who had voted for the war.
“I don’t consider that to have been an easy decision, and certainly, I wasn’t in the position to actually cast a vote on it,” he told National Public Radio. “I think that there is room for disagreement in that initial decision.”
In his 2006 memoir “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama allowed that he was “sympathetic to the pressures Democrats were under,” adding: “I didn’t consider the case against war to be cut-and-dried.”
Burton said Obama had not been ambivalent about his opposition to the war.
“He pretty specifically said back then that he wouldn’t have voted for it,” Burton said Tuesday.