By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY - AP
Jul 13, 8:18 PM (ET)
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Friday that his top rival's attempt to pressure the Bush administration to end the war in Iraq is "a convoluted approach to the problem."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to introduce an amendment repealing the congressional authorization for the war. It would require the president to seek new authority from Congress if he wanted to continue operations past Oct. 11, 2007, five years after initial authorization was given.
"If you simply repeal the language, then presumably you'd have to reauthorize something. You've got 150,000 troops over there and support personnel," Obama told The Associated Press in an interview after a campaign stop in Las Vegas.
"Why we would try that approach as opposed to simply setting a timetable for withdrawal strikes me as a convoluted approach to the problem," he said.
Clinton proposed the amendment, which is to be co-sponsored by West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, after facing persistent pressure, particularly from voters in early primary states, to distance herself from her initial vote to authorize the war.
"I was opposed to this war back in 2002, knowing that this was going to be a bad idea," the Illinois senator told the group of more than 100 gathered for a house party for precinct captains.
It was the freshman senator's fourth trip to Nevada since launching his presidential bid. His campaign used the trip to push back against the perception that Clinton was racing ahead in the state that will hold the nation's second caucus, Jan. 19. He answered the New York Democrat's raft of Nevada endorsements with a handful of his own.
Obama spent the morning meeting with a group of black lawmakers and members of the influential Culinary Workers union.
His major public event was the crowded house party, a deviation from the series of large rallies he held in his earlier trips to the state.
Obama stuck largely to his stump speech, which calls for a movement of change in the U.S.
"We don't want to just be against something, we want to be for something," he told the group after hosts Yvette and Damone Williams moved the furniture to the garage to make way for the senator and his volunteers.
Obama called the Bush administration's foreign policy a "disaster" and said he wants to redeploy combat troops in Iraq by spring. He said he would not support leaving permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq because they would become a recruitment tool for terrorists by "fanning the flames of anti-American sentiment."
Later, Obama said he believed the U.S. had a "humanitarian obligation and national security interest in ensuring there's not a complete collapse in Iraq."
He said if elected he would meet with military leaders to determine an exit strategy that would draw down combat troops in about a year.