Obama Says U.S. Must Abandon Iraq Unless Reforms Made By Iraqi Government


Saturday, March 10th 2007, 4:45 pm
By: News On 6


DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) _ Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday said the U.S. will have to abandon it's efforts in Iraq, regardless of the costs, if serious reforms are not made by the Iraqi government.

``In the absence of those conditions we're just throwing money away,'' Obama said during a campaign stop in Dubuque.

``We have to be honest that, in the absence of these changes, if these changes aren't made, there is not much we can do,'' to help the Iraqi people, he added at a later appearance.

More than 2,000 people attended a town hall meeting to hear Obama on the first of two days of campaigning in Iowa that was to include stops in five eastern Iowa cities.

Aides said Iraq would be the focus of the trip, and members of the audience were given copies of a speech Obama gave opposing the war in 2002, when he was still a state senator.

``It's time to end this war and bring our troops home,'' Obama said Saturday, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd in the Loras College Field House.

He said there are no good options left in Iraq.

``We only have bad options and worse options,'' he said.

Obama also called for reform on funding for veterans, saying the country is not doing enough to support troops returning from Iraq.

``We need to put veterans services on equal footing with other social services in this country,'' he said. ``A veteran shouldn't have to come hat in hand to get the services they deserve.''

Obama, speaking in a city with a high number of union workers, criticized companies for trying to diminish the role of organized labor.

On health care, Obama did not outline a specific plan _ though he promised one would be offered by his campaign soon. He said the current health care system is broken and that is it an issue that must be addressed.

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CONWAY, S.C. (AP) _ Republicans spent their way into losing control of Congress, presidential candidate John McCain says.

``The reason why we lost that election, my dear friends, was because we let spending get out of control,'' McCain told a breakfast crowd Saturday. ``We came to power in 1994 to change government and government changed us.''

McCain told the 225 people gathered at a restaurant on a bend in the Waccamaw River, not far from Myrtle Beach, that Republicans began to value power over principle, which caused spending to lurch completely out of control.

``It's got to stop,'' he said of the excesses, which also led to corruption among members of Congress. ``We're going to have to clean up our act.''

On the Iraq war, McCain said the ``titanic'' struggle pits supporters of the nation's values against those of radical fundamentalism.

``We lose this war and come home, they'll follow us home,'' McCain said.

Asked why some have criticized him for not being conservative enough and why he is trailing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the polls, McCain said Giuliani is ``an American hero'' who did important work in the wake of 9/11.

``I think you should judge people by their record,'' McCain said. ``I am conservative across the board and I will match my record with anybody in America much less anybody who is running.''

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ South Carolina is back on track to hold the first Democratic presidential debate after organizers of a debate next month in New Hampshire moved their event back to June.

The candidates have made firm commitments to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn to appear at the April 26 debate at his alma mater, South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, said Morton Brilliant, the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

The 90-minute debate at the historically black college will be televised by the MSNBC cable network.

``South Carolina is going to be the key to the primary in 2008. And it's clear that we now have the first full debate of the campaign,'' Brilliant said.

New Hampshire had originally scheduled Republican and Democratic presidential debates for April 4 and April 5, but many of the leading candidates couldn't come because of trips to Iraq or other scheduling conflicts. The debates have now been moved back to June.