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In the heat of the campaign for New Hampshire — a battle Hillary Clinton ultimately won — Bill Clinton attacked Barack Obama, saying the media hasn't thoroughly vetted Obama's record of opposing the war:
"It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years — and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that, when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution, you said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war. And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004 and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."
Clinton's argument is that Obama's opposition to the war hasn't been consistent. Interestingly, this is similar to the argument the Republican National Committee made in September 2007 against Obama and Hillary Clinton, and we checked the RNC's allegations here .
We also checked Obama's statement, "I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed the war in 2003. I opposed it in 2004 and 2005 and 2006." We found that to be true. (Check it out here .) (Hey, Bill, aren't you reading PolitiFact?)
The former president and his wife have been on the offensive against Obama, trying to poke holes in his long opposition to the war. That opposition has thus far appeared to be an advantage for Obama because Hillary Clinton voted for the war authorization. In this case, Bill Clinton is citing Obama's statement, taken from a Chicago Tribune interview on the eve of the 2004 Democratic convention to nominate John Kerry for president.
"On Iraq, on paper, there's not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago," Obama said. "There's not much of a difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage." The "at this stage" is an important caveat, one Bill Clinton left out.
Taking the interview in its entirety, it's clear Obama is speaking about the need to bring a satisfactory conclusion to the Iraq invasion once it had commenced.
"How do you stabilize a country that is made up of three different religious and in some cases ethnic groups with a minimal loss of life and minimum burden to the taxpayers?" Obama said later in the interview.
His overall sentiment seems to be now that the war has started, the United States should do the best job it can to steer Iraq toward stability. This position is not the same thing as condoning the invasion after the fact.
On the question of Obama saying his position on the war is similar to George W. Bush's, we find that Bill Clinton is quoting the essence of Obama's statement, but leaving out important context. We find his statement to be Half True. (For more on Clinton's comments and reaction to them, see our story here .)
Chicago Tribune, "Obama's a star who doesn't stick to the script," July 27, 2004
Washington Post, Clinton Takes on the Media , Jan. 14, 2008
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