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Obama Willing to ‘Refine’ Iraq Withdrawal Plan « The Washington Independent

FARGO, N.D. — Wait, he’s gonna talk to us again?

That was the feeling among many of the press corps as we finished our lunches, and filed stories from a tent set up at a children’s museum here in beautiful Fargo, when we learned Sen. Barack Obama would make himself available for press questions for the second time in one day. As one reporter noted, there are some weeks where he doesn’t make himself available twice in one week.

Sadly, this wasn’t an act of generosity by the presumed Democratic nominee for president to his campaign chroniclers. He was using this second appearance to, um, clarify earlier remarks when, fresh off a flight from Colorado Springs, he told the group he’d be willing to “refine” his withdrawal plan from Iraq.

“I have always said that I will listen to commanders on the ground. I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability,” Obama said in the morning. He then added, “That assessment has not changed, and when I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”

Not happy with how his comments were reported, Obama convened reporters to say: "We’re going to try this again. Apparently I wasn’t clear enough this morning on my position with respect to the war in Iraq. i have said throughout this campaign this war was ill-conceived, that it was a strategic blunder. I’ve also said I would be deliberate and careful in how we got out, that I would bring our troops home at the pace of one to two brigades per month, and at that pace we would have our combat troops out in 16 months. That position has not changed. i have not equivocated on that position, i am not searching for maneuvering room with respect to that position. What I said this morning and what I will repeat is consistent with what I’ve said over the last two years is that in putting this plan together, I will always listen to the advice of commanders on the ground, but that ultimately I’m the person who’s making the strategic decisions."

Later, when Obama walked to the back of the campaign plane some quickly speculated that he might be making a third appearance. But he’d come back on another matter.

"There are no restrooms in the front," he said as I suddenly found myself face-to-face with the candidate. "I’m gonna have to borrow yours."

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