Obama: I was right from the start

On the fifth anniversary of his antiwar speech, Obama hits Clinton for her vote on Iraq.

Published October 2, 2007 7:33PM (EDT)

You may not think of Oct. 2 as a big anniversary day, but Barack Obama's presidential campaign sure wouldn't mind if you did. While Hillary Clinton was grabbing headlines this morning with her third-quarter fundraising announcement, Obama was in Chicago, marking the fifth anniversary of the speech he gave opposing the war in Iraq.

That speech came on Oct. 2, 2002. Nine days later, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and 75 other U.S. senators voted in favor of a resolution authorizing George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq -- a fact Obama drove home repeatedly today, saying that Americans should ask themselves: "Who got the single most important foreign policy decision since the end of the Cold War right, and who got it wrong?"

Obama said that the American people were failed by the president, by the media and "most of all by the majority of a Congress -- a coequal branch of government -- that voted to give the president the open-ended authority to wage war that he uses to this day. Let's be clear: without that vote, there would be no war."

Then, without naming names, Obama went hard after Clinton and the explanations she has offered for why she voted how she did. "Some seek to rewrite history," Obama said. "They argue that they weren't really voting for war, they were voting for inspectors, or for diplomacy. But the Congress, the administration, the media, and the American people all understood what we were debating in the fall of 2002. This was a vote about whether or not to go to war. That's the truth as we all understood it then, and as we need to understand it now. And we need to ask those who voted for the war: how can you give the president a blank check and then act surprised when he cashes it?"

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Iraq War War Room