DES MOINES, IOWA -- The Obama bus tour ended its six-day tour of Iowa today at a foreign policy summit this morning, featuring experts Anthony Lake and Susan Rice. The campaign organized a similar event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in November.
Roughly 200 Iowa voters were invited to the event. The campaign said a large number of undecided voters attended, most of who describe foreign policy as a high concern.
At town hall meetings this past week, Obama has been aiming his message at undecided voters and often asks them to identify themselves by a show of hands. "Nate, you see all of these people," Obama said to his campaign organizer in Le Mars, "that's our target."
During Obama's remarks, he criticized Congress for giving President Bush the authority to launch the Iraq war. As he often does, Obama noted that he opposed the war from the start. "I said we needed to finish the job in Afghanistan, and that invading and occupying a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 was the wrong way to respond to the unconventional challenge posed by al Qaeda and Islamic extremism."
Obama added that although the surge in Iraq is being described as a success, he does not believe that it provides a solution for the war.
"You cannot end a civil war unless the warring parties resolve their differences, and only a removal of our combat brigades will put meaningful pressure on the Iraqis to do so," Obama said. Increasing pressure on the Iraqi government to fulfill their obligations is a key component of Obama's Iraq policy.
Obama also said problems with U.S. foreign policy go beyond the Iraq war adding that a "mindset of fear" has been instilled in society; "fear of looking weak, fear of new challenges, fear of the unknown." He suggests speaking to unfavorable leaders, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will change this mindset.
Obama took a swipe at Hillary Clinton for voting on the Kyl-Lieberman Iran legislation. "Earlier this year, while I was getting attacked for calling for direct diplomacy with Iran's leaders, others were talking tough and voting for an amendment that calls for George Bush to use our troops in Iraq to counter Iran."
Later on a conference call, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns endorsed Obama. Tomorrow the Senator heads to New Hampshire for two days of campaigning before returning to Iowa on Friday.