Top Obama Flip-Flops

Monday, February 25, 2008

Top Obama Flip-Flops

1. Special interests In January, the Obama campaign described union contributions to the campaigns of Clinton and John Edwards as "special interest" money. Obama changed his tune as he began gathering his own union endorsements. He now refers respectfully to unions as the representatives of "working people" and says he is "thrilled" by their support.

2. Public financing Obama replied "yes" in September 2007 when asked if he would agree to public financing of the presidential election if his GOP opponent did the same. Obama has now attached several conditions to such an agreement, including regulating spending by outside groups. His spokesman says the candidate never committed himself on the matter.

3. The Cuba embargo In January 2004, Obama said it was time "to end the embargo with Cuba" because it had "utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro." Speaking to a Cuban American audience in Miami in August 2007, he said he would not "take off the embargo" as president because it is "an important inducement for change."

4. Illegal immigration In a March 2004 questionnaire, Obama was asked if the government should "crack down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants." He replied "Oppose." In a Jan. 31, 2008, televised debate, he said that "we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation."

5. Decriminalization of marijuana While running for the U.S. Senate in January 2004, Obama told Illinois college students that he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use. In the Oct. 30, 2007, presidential debate, he joined other Democratic candidates in opposing the decriminalization of marijuana.

Top Clinton Flip-Flops

1. NAFTA In a January 2004 news conference, Clinton said she thought that "on balance [NAFTA] has been good for New York and good for America." She now says she has "long been a critic of the shortcomings of NAFTA" and advocates a "time out" from similar trade agreements.

2. No Child Left Behind Clinton voted in favor of the 2002 education bill that focused on raising student achievement levels, hailing the measure as "a major step forward." She now attacks the law at campaign rallies and meetings with teachers, describing it as a "test, test, test" approach.

3. Ending the war in Iraq In June 2006, Clinton restated her long-standing opposition to establishing timetables for withdrawing U.S. forces in Iraq. In a Jan. 15, 2008, Democratic debate in Las Vegas, she proposed to "start withdrawing" troops within 60 days of her inauguration, to bring out "one or two brigades a month" and to have "nearly all of the troops out" by the end of 2009.

4 . Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants In a campaign statement on Oct. 31, 2007, Clinton expressed support for a plan by New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) to offer limited driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, after going back and forth on the matter in a televised debate. In a Nov. 15, 2007, televised debate from Nevada, she replied with a simple "no" when asked if she approved the driver's license idea in the absence of comprehensive immigration changes.

5. Florida and Michigan delegates In September 2007, the Clinton campaign formally pledged not to participate in primary or caucus elections staged before Feb. 5, 2008, in defiance of Democratic National Committee rules. She now says delegates from Florida and Michigan should be seated at the Democratic National Convention, despite their flouting of rules that all the major Democratic candidates endorsed.

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