From NBC's Domenico Montanaro and Andrew Merten
After Hillary Clinton yesterday said the troop surge is working, but it's too late and Democrat Brian Baird came out and also said the surge is working, First Read asked Obama what he thinks during a conference call with reporters to announce the endorsement of Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA).
Obama noted that he hadn't seen a transcript of exactly what Clinton said yesterday about the troop surge during her speech at the VFW, but added, "My assessment is that if we put an additional 30,000 of our outstanding troops into Baghdad, that that's going to quell some of the violence, short term. I don't think that there's ever been any doubt about that. And I don't think that there's any doubt that as long as US troops are present, that, you know, they are going to be doing outstanding work.
"It doesn't change the underlying assessment, which is that there's not a military solution to the problem in Iraq, and that the political dynamic in Iraq has not changed. The only thing that the Iraqi legislature appears to have agreed to, as the surge took place, was a motion to adjourn and go on vacation.
"And the ongoing question is how can we trigger a serious conversation and a responsible conversation between the Shiite and the Sunni and the Kurds that will reduce the sectarian conflict. That is not happening, and until it does, we are going to continue to see long-term problems, there, and it's my assessment that until we begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq, we're not going to get the sort of serious talks within Iraq and in the region, that are required."
Murphy, 33, is an Iraq veteran and has been active in the debate on Iraq in Congress. The endorsement announcement comes a day after Clinton's glowing comments about Murphy yesterday during her address to the VFW convention and just hours before Obama addresses the VFW himself.
"I met Patrick Murphy, when he was a captain in the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad in 2003, when I was there on my first trip," Clinton said yesterday during her address. "We went to Sadr City, and we met with members of the 82nd, one of whom was this bright, young captain named Patrick Murphy. When he left the Army, he decided to continue his public service in another way -- he ran for and won a seat in Congress. So when I was thinking about what kind of bill of rights -- a GI Bill of Rights we needed for the 21st century, he was one of the first calls I made, because he had lived it.
She and Murphy co-sponsored the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights legislation in May. Today, Murphy said of Obama, "He's absolutely our best chance to change the direction of our country."