Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama has apparently reconsidered his position against setting a "date certain" for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq.
On Tuesday, Obama introduced the "Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007," which calls for a goal of all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by March 31, 2008, in a phased redeployment worked out with military commanders.
Earlier, he refused to vote for an amendment proposed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that would have, as Obama said, bring the troops home on a "date certain."
On June 21, Obama took to the Senate floor to say, "A hard and fast, arbitrary deadline for withdrawal offers our commanders in the field and our diplomats in the region insufficient flexibility."
Obama started moving toward setting a timetable in the weeks leading up to his announcement of his 2008 Democratic presidential exploratory campaign.
Change seems tied to primary
On Nov. 20, the Illinois Democrat said a "precise" timetable for U.S. troops to leave Iraq should be mapped out by the president, military commanders and, when possible, with Iraqi government leaders.
However, at that speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Obama said he was not suggesting an "overly rigid" timetable.
The gradual switch in approach seems to be tied to the reality of the Democratic presidential primary.
Ending the war in Iraq is a major issue and while all the Democratic hopefuls are against President Bush's troop escalation and supportive of capping troop levels, they have different ideas on the best way to bring soldiers home.
Asked if the Obama legislation represented a change in position, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, "This is entirely consistent with the Nov. 20 speech."
Added Robert Gibbs, another Obama spokesman, "Obama's legislation embraces the goals set out by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group in saying that the goal is to have all combat forces out of Iraq by the end of March 2008."