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» Live-blogging Obama's news conference in Jordan
Live-blogging Obama's news conference in Jordan
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and two other senators just held a news conference in Amman, Jordan.
Obama, Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska arrived there this morning from Iraq. They've been on a congressional mission to Afghanistan and Iraq, and Obama is now embarking on a trip of his own that will take him on to Israel and Europe. (Story here.)
We used this post to live-blog their news conference. Scroll down and read "up" if you want to start at the beginning, or begin here with the latest update:
Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. The first McCain campaign comment:
As we noted earlier, Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign has scheduled an 11:30 a.m. ET conference call (11:45 a.m. ET: that call has begun and we're following it here). In the meantime, McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds has also released this statement about Obama's news conference:
"By continuing his opposition to the surge strategy long after it has proven successful and by admitting that his plan for withdrawal places him at odds with Gen. David Petraeus, Barack Obama has made clear that his goal remains unconditional withdrawal rather than securing the victory our troops have earned and the surge has made possible."
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. "Iraq is more secure:"
The news conference just ended. Asked about whether "the surge" has worked, Obama said "the situation in Iraq is more secure than it was a year and a half ago." But, he said, there has not been substantial progress toward "political reconciliation" in the country that will in turn bring long-term stability.
And, he said, if he becomes president he will need to balance what's best for the situation in Iraq against other pressing matters -- such as the struggling U.S. economy. The $10 billion a month being spent by the U.S. in Iraq, he said, might be better spent shoring up a U.S. economy "that is really hurting right now."
Here's what it sounded like as Obama made those points:
Update at 10:40 a.m. ET. Facts do affect decision-making:
Responding to the charge that he had settled on a policy about Iraq before going there and wouldn't really listen to what commanders or others told him, Obama said that "facts have to affect your decision-making." But it is also important, he said, to set "clear objectives" and have a sense of where "you're trying to steer the ship" -- two things he said have been lacking with the Bush administration.
Update at 10:30 a.m. ET. A McCain campaign response is coming:
Republican contender John McCain's campaign says it will hold a conference call at 11:30 a.m. ET to respond to Obama's comments and to again lay out McCain's vision about what should be done in Iraq and Afghanistan. We plan to monitor that call. Earlier, we posted video of McCain making his case.
Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. Perhaps he shouldn't have said "never:"
On CBS-TV Sunday, Obama said he "never" has any doubts about his ability to handle foreign policy issues.
Asked about that statement, he said he probably shouldn't have used the word "never.' But, Obama added, "I don't have doubts about my ability to apply sound judgment to the major national security problems that we face."
Update at 10:20 a.m. ET. "We don't know what would have happened" if his plan had been tried, not "the surge:"
Republican contender John McCain argues that the "surge" of U.S. forces last year has led to improved conditions in Iraq and set the stage for eventual success there.
Obama said "we don't know what would have happened if the plan that I put forward in January 2007" had been enacted instead. He argued then for putting more pressure on the Iraqi government to take control and for the beginning of a "phased withdrawal" of U.S. forces.
Update at 10:11 a.m. ET. He welcomes "growing consensus" on a timetable for withdrawal:
Saying that while there has been "security progress" in Iraq, Obama said that "now we need a political solution" and that Iraqis "want to take more responsibility for their country."
"I welcome the growing consensus in the United States and Iraq for a timeline" on the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq, Obama said.
Update at 10:07 a.m. ET. Obama praises troops, calls for more in Afghanistan:
At the start of his remarks, Obama praised U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. "We were extremely impressed by the extraordinary dedication, devotion and skill of our men and women in uniform."
Then he repeated a call he's made before -- to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan because the situation there is "perilous."