Associated Press: Obama: I anticipated most of the problems in Iraq
By Holly Ramer
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama reminded New Hampshire voters Monday that not only did he oppose the Iraq war from the start but anticipated nearly all of the problems the nation faces as a result of the invasion
The Illinois senator said anyone who questions whether he has the necessary "seasoning" to be president should read a speech he delivered five months before the war began.
"I recommend the speech not so much so I can say 'I told you so,' so much as to get a sense of the judgment I bring to bear on foreign policy issues, because I anticipated most of the problems, if not all the problems we've confronted since we got there," he told more than 2,000 people at Keene State College.
The House and Senate recently passed Iraq war spending bills that include timetables for withdrawing troops from Iraq but President Bush has promised to veto the measure. While rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton challenged Bush to work with Congress instead of vetoing the bill, Obama appeared to consider the veto a done deal.
"When he vetoes that bill, we are going to have to go back and say what are the other ways we can ratchet up the pressure on the president," he said. "There are a whole range of options. We could say, OK, we're going to fund the war in three-month increments and keep you on a shorter leash, or we're going to try to constrain you and let you veto the bill again."
The town hall-style forum originally had been scheduled for last month, but a snowstorm forced Obama to cut short his trip to the early primary state. Obama planned a smaller event Tuesday in Portsmouth focused on health care. However, Obama said details of his plan to achieve universal health care by the end of his first term won't be released for another month or two.
Even then, Obama said he would be open to changing it later.
"I don't claim to have a monopoly on all the good ideas," he said. "If someone else has a better idea of how to do it cheaper, I'll adopt that."
In general terms, Obama said he would lower health-care costs by focusing more on disease prevention and management of chronic illnesses and modernizing medical record-keeping. That would free up money that could be used to subsidize those who lack insurance and allow them to buy into a pool, he said. In answering another question, he didn't rule out paying for it by rolling back the tax cuts for the most wealthy taxpayers.
When one audience member complained that she felt that America's government was little more than a "facade for big money," Obama touted his support for public financing of campaigns and various campaign ethics measures. Like several of his rivals already have done, Obama is expected to announce his first-quarter fund-raising figures this week.
"The fact that I'm raising obscene amounts of money for this presidential race doesn't make me a hypocrite," he said. "I want to see those systems implemented and have a track record of doing it."
Earlier, during a campaign stop at the Peterborough Diner, Obama ordered a slice of chocolate cream pie to go and ate a few bites of blueberry for the cameras -- but there was one thing on the menu that he wouldn't touch.
"We've got a sandwich called 'The Hillary,'" owner Pat Healey told him Monday afternoon.
"Is that true?" Obama said.
"It's called the Hillary wrap," Healey joked. "She's got it all wrapped up, right?"
Obama didn't answer, just smiled and started making his way through the tiny restaurant. He stopped to wipe a spot of frosting off a little girl's nose and joked that he also is a messy eater, much to his wife's chagrin.