News

Obama campaigns in N.H., apologizes to military families

Mike Dorning
Chicago Tribune

NASHUA, N.H. - Bringing his opening campaign swing to the site of the influential first-in-the-nation presidential primary, Sen. Barack Obama on Monday sharpened distinctions with rival Democrats on the Iraq war even as he offered an apology to military families who might have been offended by a comment he made a day earlier in Iowa.

A local New Hampshire reporter asked Obama, D-Ill., if military families deserved an apology for a comment the senator made during a speech at Iowa State University on Sunday criticizing the war in Iraq as a conflict that had "wasted" more than 3,000 American soldiers' lives.

Obama had backtracked from the comment immediately after the speech, telling a reporter for the Des Moines Register that the remark was "a slip of the tongue" and that soldiers' "sacrifices are never wasted."

Speaking to a group of reporters in the kitchen of a Nashua, N.H., home after a gathering for Democratic party activists, Obama said he had misspoken in Iowa, adding that his opposition to the war was grounded in a desire for soldiers to return home safely to their families.

"I would absolutely apologize if any of them felt that in some ways it had diminished the enormous courage and sacrifice that they'd shown," Obama responded.

In a 10-hour stopover that was only his second visit ever to New Hampshire, Obama drew enthusiastic crowds, with thousands of students and local residents filling an auditorium at the University of New Hampshire at Durham for an evening rally.

He spent two hours mingling with lunch-time coffee house customers and pedestrians on a street near the State Capitol in Concord and later stopped at a party in Nashua hosted at a passive-solar heated home owned by Bette Lasky, the Democratic assistant majority leader of the State House of Representatives.

The Illinois senator stressed his calls to begin troop withdrawals from Iraq as he moved through New Hampshire, a state where the war in unpopular and particularly so among the activist Democrats most likely to vote in the presidential primary.

His chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was dogged with questions about the Iraq war as she campaigned in New Hampshire this weekend.

Clinton was repeatedly pressed by local Democratic activists to say whether she now believed she made a mistake in voting for the 2002 Senate resolution authorizing the Iraq war; Clinton declined to do so and instead repeated past statements that she would not have voted for the resolution had she known what she does now.

Both Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards were members of the Senate in 2002 and voted in favor of the war authorization. Edwards has said his vote was a mistake and has challenged the Senate to use its power over federal spending to end the war.

Obama was not a member of the Senate in 2002 but spoke out publicly against the war resolution.

Obama, who has recently been focusing attention on that difference in their records by regularly noting in campaign speeches that the war should "never have been authorized," suggested in answering a reporter's question that his rivals and other senators who voted yes are partly responsible for the situation in Iraq.

"I think all the decisions we make in Washington have consequences. So obviously if the Senate had voted down the authorization, we wouldn't be in the situation that we're in now," he said.

Obama also underscored his differences with Clinton's more cautious approach on Iraq. He contrasted as "pretty substantial" the difference between a Senate bill he recently authorized to pull combat troops out of Iraq by March 2008 and a bill that Clinton has introduced to cap troop strength in Iraq at the level in January.

But Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson noted that she had joined Obama in favoring a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops in a 2005 Senate vote.

Speaking at the University of New Hampshire, Obama also questioned the Bush administration's motive in releasing evidence this month that Iranian-built weapons may have been used in Iraq against U.S. forces.

He said much of the evidence was months old and questioned the timing of the release.

Obama campaigned in a blue blazer and open-collar white shirt in a town-hall style meeting at a field house at the university. He drew loud cheers from the crowd, several of whom said they were impressed by his manner.

"He's not stiff. He's not stuffy," said Eric Diamond, 25, a high school teacher from Concord, N.H., who came to see Obama. "He's come up from the grassroots, from the ground up in Chicago. That I admire a lot, anyone who's done hands-on community organizing."

"He's a fresh face. He's not been in the political machine long enough to be jaded," said Stephanie Ashbaugh, 44, a family practitioner from Hollis, N.H.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Music

2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Music

Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Music

Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.

Music

Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.

Music

Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.

Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.