Saturday, February 2, 2008

Obama Endorsed by Anti-War Group


Obama Endorsed by Anti-War Group

By NEDRA PICKLER – 6 hours ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Barack Obama picked up the endorsement of a leading anti-war group Friday and said Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton still has not adequately explained her vote to go into Iraq.

Obama told reporters in a news conference that, even though Clinton explains how she would like to end the war, her explanation for her vote leading into the war is disingenuous. He said his opposition against the war from the start will make him the stronger rival to Republican front-runner and war backer John McCain in the general election.

Obama's long-standing opposition to the war helped him pick up the backing of, a liberal network which counts 3.2 million members and decided to support him by a vote of 70 percent to 30 percent for Clinton. The group said Friday that it has 1.7 million members in the 22 states scheduled to vote in the race Tuesday, and it would immediately begin a campaign to get them behind Obama.

Obama also picked up the support of a large union in California which had endorsed rival John Edwards, who dropped out of the race this week.
Meanwhile, Oprah Winfrey was returning to the campaign trail in support of her friend Obama. The talk show hostess planned to hold a rally with Obama's wife, Michelle, and Caroline Kennedy on Sunday in Los Angeles. Winfrey held massive rallies for Obama in December in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. executive director Eli Pariser said the country needs a president to end the war, provide universal health care, address climate change, restore America's standing in the world and "change business as usual in Washington." In his statement, Pariser thanked all the other candidates who ran in the Democratic primary for their contributions to the race.

Obama criticized Clinton's answer during a debate Thursday night when she was asked why she voted against a 2002 amendment offered by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. The amendment would have given weapons inspectors more time in Iraq and required President Bush to first obtain U.N. approval before using force. Clinton argued that a vote for the Levin amendment would have subordinated U.S. authority in Iraq to the U.N. Security Council and called it a troublesome precedent.

She reiterated her explanation of the 2002 vote to give Bush authority to use military force to oust Saddam Hussein. But she added, "If I had known then what I know now, I never would have given President Bush the authority. It was a sincere vote based on my assessment at the time and what I believed he would do with the authority he was given. He abused that authority; he misused that authority."

She declined to say the vote was a mistake. Obama criticized her explanation in his news conference, the third he's held this week leading into the Super Tuesday contests. Clinton holds a lead in the polling in most of those states.
"I think there continues to be a suggestion that it was not a vote for war, and I thought that her explanation with respect to the Levin amendment was inaccurate," Obama said. "Anyone who looks at the Levin amendment knows that we were not ceding sovereignty in some fashion to the United Nations."

Responding to Obama Friday, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said Obama's early opposition to the war was not borne out by his actions in the Senate.
"The reality is that once he got sworn in, he explicitly called for keeping troops in Iraq and opposed a timeline for withdrawal, only changing his position when he became a candidate for the White House," Singer said.

In Sacramento, one of California's largest unions, the Service Employees International Union, decided to throw its support to Obama. The 650,000-member union's backing could help Obama cut into Clinton's lead in California polls of Democratic base voters, many of whom are union members. The SEIU includes city, county and state workers, as well as in-home support and health care workers.

Union officials will urge their members to vote for Obama but do not plan to do a wider get-out-the-vote effort.

Obama was also endorsed Friday by the New York City-based Transport Workers Union, which also had originally sided with Edwards. "With Senator Edwards out of the race, our officers found it an easy decision to lend our support to the Obama campaign," said union president James C. Little. The 200,000-member Transport Workers Union is the first national AFL-CIO-affiliated union to endorse Obama.

Obama said he has spoken to former presidential candidate Bill Richardson about getting his endorsement.
"We have no plans of receiving an endorsement, but I would love to be pleasantly surprised," he said.

The New Mexico governor has spoken to former President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Obama and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, who endorsed Obama on Monday. Richardson was unclear on whether he would made an endorsement before Democratic caucuses in his state Tuesday.

"I asked all my supporters in New Mexico to make their own choice, but don't be guided by me. And I mean that. I think we have a good selection of candidates," he said.

Kennedy campaigned for Obama in Oakland, Calif., on Friday. The senator repeatedly mentioned Martin Luther King Jr. during a speech at Beebe Memorial Cathedral, and invoked the memory of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, when he said, "Barack Obama is going to ask this generation, and ask you, and you, and you to do something for your country."

The Clinton campaign on Friday began airing two ads featuring the endorsement of Sen. Kennedy's nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Associated Press Writers Laura Kurtzman in Sacramento, Calif., Scott Lindlaw in Oakland, Calif., Barry Massey in Santa Fe, N.M., and Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this report.

Atlana-Journal Constitution on Clinton/Obama Iraq Vote



Clinton's Iraq vote was cynical, Obama's brave

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/03/08

In October 1962, a young president confronted one of the greatest crises of his century. After U.S. intelligence confirmed that the Soviets were shipping medium-range nuclear missiles to Cuba — missiles easily capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, just 90 miles away — President John F. Kennedy considered whether to set fire to the Cold War.

The press was itching for a first strike by American forces, as was the public. The formidable Dean Acheson, an architect of the U.S. strategy of Communist containment, pushed for an invasion of Cuba. Gen. Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Kennedy: "Hit 'em without any warning whatsoever," according to Robert Smith Thompson's "The Missiles of October."


But the 45-year-old Kennedy, who had barely won the Oval Office over the more experienced Richard Nixon, resisted. Instead, he pulled off a stunning diplomatic coup and averted what might have been an all-out nuclear war. Kennedy — chastened, no doubt, by the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion — had the backbone to stand up to an array of presumed wise men who wanted a military showdown.

Barack Obama, 46, has shown similar gumption. On Oct. 26, 2002, in the midst of a campaign for the U.S. Senate, he gave a speech in Chicago opposing the invasion of Iraq.

While Obama rightly acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was "a bad guy," he also pointed out, "Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors. ... I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences."

While that may seem obvious now, it was not the widely held view in Washington. Indeed, the Senate had overwhelmingly passed a resolution authorizing President Bush to wage war just two weeks earlier. Few Democrats with presidential ambitions wanted to be caught opposing the invasion. Hillary Clinton voted with Bush, as did John Kerry and John Edwards (who later repudiated his vote).

With the U.S. now mired in Iraq, and with those costs and consequences alarmingly clear, most Americans, preoccupied with a faltering economy, are ready to turn the page. They want to bring the troops home and forget about the warmongering and demagoguery that led to this foreign policy debacle. Old news, many say.

Not so fast. If voters are looking for clues about judgment and maturity and the capacity to make wise decisions in times of crisis, those early stances on Iraq are telling. As human resources experts are fond of pointing out, an employee's work history is a strong indicator of future performance.

Clinton is hardworking, bright and accomplished. She has mastered the intricacies of the U.S. Senate and the details of important public policy proposals. However, her Iraq vote was not only wrongheaded. It was also cynical. She made it without taking the time to do critical background research, work that would have revealed doubts about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction among U.S. intelligence agencies.

A 90-page National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, the consensus of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, was made available to all members of the Senate, but apparently she didn't bother to read it. (It's a classified document, but senators were permitted to read it at two secure locations on Capitol Hill.)

For a policy-maker who prides herself on preparation and a mastery of detail, that was a curious lapse — suggesting she had made up her mind to cast a vote that would armor her against charges she was too soft to be commander-in-chief. In other words, she, like many others, sent young Americans to war to boost her political fortunes. That's not the only mistake Clinton has ever made, but it is the most damning.

In his seminal Chicago speech, Obama made clear that he's no naive pacifist.

"I am not opposed to all wars," he said. "What I am opposed to is a dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."

When it came to one of the most important issues of our generation, Clinton made the wrong choice. Obama discerned the right course and had the courage to take it.