From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:
(ATLANTA) Barack Obama defended his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq today, telling voters here that his position has not changed. "Don't be confused," Obama said forcefully, "I will bring the Iraq war to a close when I am president of the United States of America."
Obama explained that his plan to withdraw troops by 1 to 2 combat brigades a month would mean that combat troops will be out of Iraq in "about 16 months."
"Assuming that I take office in January, then that means that we would have our – we would still have our troops there for about 2 more years from now," he explained.
Recently, Obama has come under fire for saying that he intends to "refine" his Iraq plan after he visits the country, suggesting that he may not stick to the proposed 16 month timetable. This morning, Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, called the timetable a goal.
"16 months is the goal and he believes that is a reasonable goal, but obviously any president is going to listen, listen to the commanders on the ground and listen to the conditions at the time," Axelrod said on MSNBC.
Critics have also accused Obama of pandering to voters by shifting his positions to the center. However, Obama said today that he is "progressively and squarely in the Democratic camp" and blamed the criticism of him on cynicism.
"One of the things you find as you go though this campaign, is everyone has become so cynical about politics. That the assumption is you must be doing everything for political reasons," he explained and added that voters don't always have to agree with him.
"We can agree on 90% of the things that are important and on those 10% we will agree to disagree."