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Thursday, March 29, 2007
Obama: McCain's Iraq plan continues 'deterioration of America's standing'


Obama criticized McCain's Iraq plan Wednesday in an interview with CNN.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, sharply criticized Sen. John McCain's, R-Arizona, call for an indefinite troop presence in Iraq, telling CNN on Wednesday his potential presidential rival's plan will fail to stabilize the war-torn country. (Watch video: CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviews Sen. Barack Obama)

"John McCain may believe that it's an option for us to maintain an indefinite occupation of Iraq, regardless what happens in terms of politics within Iraq, so that we're every year sending $100 billion over to Iraq, so that every year we're seeing hundreds or thousands of young Americans dying, so that we continue to see a deterioration of America's standing in the world," the Democratic presidential candidate told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I don't think that serves the best interests of the United States, and I don't think it will ultimately result in the kind of stabilization in Iraq that's necessary."

Obama also praised the Senate's rebuttal Tuesday of a GOP amendment to the Iraq supplemental bill that sought to strike the withdrawal deadline out of the bill, saying the move is the beginning of a "bipartisan movement in the direction of having a clear end game."

In the wide ranging interview, Obama also addressed Iran's holding of 15 British military personnel, saying he expected the Iranians to "stand down fairly soon." He also said that if such a situation happened to U.S. personnel, he would keep "all options, including military" on the table to deal with the matter.(Read full interview transcript [PDF])

Regarding the U.S. attorney firings controversy, the Illinois Democrat renewed his call for top White House aides to be subpoenaed over the issue, brushing aside suggestions that he might one day wish to use the executive privilege right as president.

"In an Obama presidency what you will see will be a sufficient respect for law and coequal branches of government that I hope we don't find ourselves in a situation in which we would be having aides being subpoenaed for what I think everybody acknowledges is some troublesome information," he said.

On Al Sharpton's recent comments suggesting Obama does not expect the black community to question him, the Illinois Democrat denied there was any dispute.

"I don't think there was much going on there," Obama said. "The Rev. Sharpton has been a terrific advocate on behalf of the dispossessed. I've always expressed my respect for him. I think this was a misunderstanding as a consequence of his reading of a report in New York, and I called him and said we had nothing to with the article."

An article published in the New York Post on March 12 cited a black Democratic operative, who supports Sen. Hillary Clinton, claiming Sharpton is launching an effort to "tear down" Obama. The article also quoted another black Democratic activist who purports, "it's driving Al crazy that Obama is as impressive and popular as he is, and he's not happy about it."

"I don't expect African Americans to vote for me simply because I'm African American," Obama said Wednesday. "If they do end up moving in my direction, it's going to be because they see my advocacy on behalf of racial profiling legislation, on behalf of reforms to the death penalty, on behalf of getting health care for kids -- on behalf of issues that are of importance to the African American community and to the people outside the African American community."

Wolf Blitzer's full interview with Sen. Obama airs at 7 p.m. ET on "The Situation Room."

-- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

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