Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on his book tour talked to the Today Show this morning. Host Meredith Vieira tees up the will he run for president question.
VIEIRA: If your party says to you, "We need you," and there's already a drum beat out there, will you respond?
OBAMA: Well, you know the way presidential campaigns work these days, you're never drafted. I think you have to make an affirmative decision to run. And it's an enormous decision, because this is serious business and it's serious times.
VIEIRA: Are you qualified, do you think?
OBAMA: Well, I think there are two people who are qualified to be president, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, because they've done it before. Everybody else, I think, has to figure it out on the job, because this is an immense country and we're facing issues around health care and energy and education and foreign policy, obviously what we're going to do in Iraq.
MS. VIEIRA: Well, what are we going to do? Let me ask you that. I know we're short on time, but nine months ago you were there.
SEN. OBAMA: Right.
MS. VIEIRA: You said, "If we don't turn things around, we have about nine months in which to do it."
SEN. OBAMA: Right.
MS. VIEIRA: "We're going to have to make some changes." Well, nine months --
SEN. OBAMA: Nine months are up.
MS. VIEIRA: They're up.
SEN. OBAMA: It is time for us to start a phased withdrawal. And that doesn't mean that we pull all the troops out at once, but we have to send a strong signal to the Iraqis that it is time for you guys to take control of your country, and to the powers in the region, including Syria and Iran, which have been standing on the sidelines, to say, "You have got to be invested in trying to bring about some sort of peaceful solution."
MS. VIEIRA: Well, if you were president now, when would you start that withdrawal? Immediately?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, I would start planning with the Joint Chiefs right now, yeah.