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Sen. Barack Obama

By DENNIS CONRAD, Associated Press Writer Thu May 11, 8:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON – Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday ridiculed the Bush administration’s defense of the
Iraq war, arguing that messages such as “Plan for Victory” can’t hide the “2,400 flag-draped coffins that have arrived at the Dover Air Force Base.”

In a speech to EMILY’s List, the Illinois senator used biting criticism in assailing the president and his handling of the war. Obama spoke in support of former Army Maj. Tammy Duckworth, a helicopter co-pilot who lost both her legs in combat in Iraq and is trying to win an open House seat.

“This idea,” Obama said, “that somehow if you say the words ‘plan for victory’ and ‘stay the course’ over and over and over and over again and you put these subliminal messages behind you that say ‘victory’ and ‘victory’ and ‘victory,’ that somehow people are not going to notice the 2,400 flag-draped coffins that have arrived at the Dover Air Force Base.”

The first-term lawmaker asked the audience: “People, have we flipped? It’s time to say we notice it. It is time to say that we care, and we are not going to settle anymore.”

The White House had no immediate comment about Obama’s criticism.

Tracey Schmitt, a spokesperson for the
Republican National Committee, said Obama’s remarks “are emblematic of a party that would rather promote pessimism and point fingers than weigh in substanitively on an issue as critical as the central front of the war on terror.”

Obama, who first came to national attention when he delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008 — or perhaps a running mate.

“I don’t know about you,” he told his audience, referring to Bush’s 2000 campaign comments on possible U.S. military involvement overseas, “but when
George Bush said he did not believe in nation building, I did not know he was talking about this nation.”

EMILY’s List is an organization that helps Democratic women who favor abortion rights.

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