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Obama website's opposition to successful surge gets deleted

July 16, 2008 |  1:26 am

A funny thing happened over on the Barack Obama campaign website in the last few days.

The parts that stressed his opposition to the 2007 troop surge and his statement that more troops would make no difference in a civil war have somehow disappeared. John McCain and Obama have been going at it heavily in recent days over the benefits of the surge.

The Arizona senator, who advocated the surge for years before the Bush administration employed it, says the resulting reduction in violence is proof it worked with progress on 15 of 18 political benchmarks and Obama's plan to withdraw troops by now would have resulted in surrender.

When President Bush ordered the surge in January 2007, Obama said: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse,"  a position he maintained throughout 2007. This year he acknowledged progress, but maintained his position that political progress was lacking.

Tuesday, while Obama gave a speech on foreign policy, the New York Daily News was the first to notice the removal of parts of Obama's campaign site listing the Iraq troop surge as part of "The Problem." An Obama spokeswoman said it was just part of an "update" to "reflect changes in current events," as our colleague Frank James notes in the Swamp. The update includes a new section on the rise of Al Qaeda violence in Afghanistan.

But some might see the updating as part of Obama's skip to the political center now that he's secured the Democratic nomination. "Today," McCain said Tuesday, "we know Sen. Obama was wrong" to oppose the troop surge.

An old quote of Obama's criticizing the "rash war," which helped him with the left wing of his party and helped differentiate his stand from that of Sen. Hillary Clinton, a primary opponent who voted for the use of force in Iraq, has been replaced on his site by one saying that ending the Iraq war will make America safer. That's more of a general election message.

And hat tip to the folks over at the Wake Up America blog for their continuing trenchant analyses of the summer campaigns in general and, specifically, for highlighting the video below that contrasts Obama's pre-surge position with a more recent interview of David Axelrod, his chief campaign strategist, denying Obama's statements. A reminder of how carefully voters must listen during these last four campaign months.

--Andrew Malcolm

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