AUSTIN, Texas — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama ridiculed Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday for saying Britain's decision to pull troops from Iraq is a good sign that fits with the strategy for stabilizing the country.
Obama, speaking at a massive outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision this week to withdraw 1,600 troops is a recognition that Iraq's problems can't be solved militarily.
"Now if Tony Blair can understand that, than why can't George Bush and Dick Cheney understand that?" Obama asked thousands of supporters who gathered in the rain to hear him. "In fact, Dick Cheney said this is all part of the plan (and) it was a good thing that Tony Blair was withdrawing, even as the administration is preparing to put 20,000 more of our young men and women in.
"Now, keep in mind, this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," Obama said to laughter from supporters holding campaign signs over the heads to keep dry. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."
A spokeswoman for Cheney, traveling with him in Australia, said they had no comment on Obama's remarks.
Cheney told ABC News earlier this week that Blair's announcement was good news, calling it an affirmation that parts of Iraq have been stabilized.
Obama's Austin appearance was part of a campaign swing across the country to raise money for his two-week old candidacy and build his reputation nationally.
While in Texas, Obama raised money in Houston Thursday night, where he said he'd like to see an end to the "tit-for-tat" that dominates politics.
The Obama and Clinton campaigns fired off dueling press releases this week over a top Hollywood donor who was a supporter of Bill Clinton but is backing Obama in this race.
Obama told the Austin crowd that they should try to recruit their friends to support his campaign. "I want you to tell them, 'It's time for you to turn off the TV and stop playing GameBoy,'" Obama said. "We've got work to do."
Tickets to the rally were free, but Obama asked the attendees to give even $5 or $10. "I don't want to have to raise money in Hollywood all the time," he said.
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