From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
Londonderry, NH -- Barack Obama's statement that he wouldn't have all
troops out of Iraq by the end of his first term is still haunting the
senator on the campaign stump. At an event here this morning, a voter
held up a sign with the numbers "2013" written on it to get Obama to
take a question from him at the town hall.
Obama re-addressed the question he was first asked at the Democratic
Debate at Dartmouth two weeks ago, when he, along with the other major
Democratic candidates, said they wouldn't have all troops out of Iraq
by the end of their first terms.
At that debate Obama said that he could not guarantee that all troops
would be out of Iraq by the end of his first term. Obama qualified that
answer today, as he has in previous town halls in New Hampshire and
Iowa, by saying that he would keep troops in Iraq for diplomatic,
humanitarian and counterterrorism purposes.
A voter called out to Obama that his answer needed to be simpler, to which he responded, "The notion that I have to be as simplistic as the Republicans are, I don't agree. I have to be honest and realistic."
He added, "It can't be done to bring troops out in three to six months."
Obama first had to clarify his answer to the question at a town hall in Concord, N.H., the Saturday after the Democratic debate. At that event Obama criticized the media for misconstruing what he meant. Since then he has been asked about his stance on troop withdrawal at least different times while campaigning in Iowa.
New Hampshire voters also tried to pin Obama down on some controversial issues regarding foreign trade and nuclear energy.
Obama said he would vote for a Peruvian trade agreement next week, in response to a question from a man in Londonderry, NH who called NAFTA and CAFTA a disaster for American workers. He said he supported the trade agreement with Peru because it contained the labor and environmental standards sought by groups like the AFL-CIO, despite the voter's protests to the contrary.
He also affirmed his support for free trade. "I am not going to say on a blanket basis that I'm going to vote against trade agreements," Obama said. "We cannot draw a moat around the u.s. economy b/c china is still trading, India is still trading."
Obama also refused to commit to a ban against using nuclear power, when asked by a young voter. In his speech in Portsmouth yesterday on renewable energy, Obama said that development money should be spent on researching safe ways to use and dispose of nuclear power. He reiterated that stance today.
Also on voters minds was health care. Obama took four different questions on it, and said that the choice to be made was between who could actually broker a healthcare solution, saying that the plans between him, Edwards and Clinton were 95 percent the same.
And who is Obama's favorite president?
"He was also a tall skinny guy from Illinois who people said didn't have enough Washington experience," Obama said. He frequently draws comparisons between himself and Lincoln on the campaign stump.
The one sour note at the picturesque New Hampshire event was the song Obama stepped out onto the stage to, "Move Along" by the All American Rejects. Obama said hello just as the lycrics, "I hate you" boomed out from the loudspeakers.