Democrat Barack Obama said Thursday that the troop-level increase in Iraq had “succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated” and “beyond our wildest dreams.”
But despite expressing his most positive assessment of a military buildup he opposed, Obama made no concession on what he said is the more critical issue of Iraq's political stability.
“The Iraqis still haven't taken responsibility,” Obama said during the seven-minute segment on Fox News' “O'Reilly Factor,” an interview host Bill O'Reilly had sought for months. “And we still don't have that kind of political reconciliation.”
O'Reilly alternately praised and poked at Obama, as the Democratic presidential candidate attempted to reach a more conservative audience as John McCain accepted the Republican Party's nomination.
“We wanted to speak to as many voters as we could on a night when we were in the midst of a lot of Republican attacks,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
Obama emphasized that he recognized the threat of Islamic terrorists and would not hesitate to use military force when needed.
Earlier in the day, Obama, campaigning in Pennsylvania, said Republicans are attacking him to avoid talking about the economy.
“You're hearing an awful lot about me – most of which is not true – but you're not hearing a lot about you,” he said. “You haven't heard a word about how we're going to deal with any aspect of the economy that is affecting you and your pocketbook.”
He dismissed the idea that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential candidate, had been criticized unfairly because of her gender.
“The notion that many questions about her work in Alaska is somehow not relevant to her potentially being vice president of the United States doesn't make too much sense to me,” Obama said. “I assume she wants to be treated the same way guys are treated, which means their records are under scrutiny. I've been through this for 19 months. She's been through this for, what, four days so far?”