Get a load of this from the debate:
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I have put forth my extensive experience in foreign policy, you know, helping to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, negotiating to open borders so that refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing would be safe, going to Beijing and standing up for women's rights as human rights and so much else. And every time the question about qualifications and credentials for commander in chief are raised, Senator Obama rightly points to the speech he gave in 2002. He's to be commended for having given the speech. Many people gave speeches against the war then, and the fair comparison is he didn't have responsibility, he didn't have to vote; by 2004 he was saying that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference? Where is the comparison that would in some way give a real credibility to the speech that he gave against the war?
SEN. OBAMA: Let me just follow up. My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why.
Not so. [See the UPDATE below for the timeline. It looks like Obama isn't confusing State Senator and United States Senator; rather, he's backdating when he ran for the Senate to 2002 from 2003.]
In 2002, Obama ran for State Senator. Not United States Senator (here). And he didn't declare for U.S. Senate until January, 2003.
Hillary says Obama "didn't have responsibility," and she's right. Obama is not only wrong on the facts (State vs. United States) but wrong to claim that he had responsibility when he didn't.
Really, how could anybody forget or misspeak on this?
Surely it's pretty hard to confuse the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate?
At best, this shows that Obama is not at his best when he has to think fast in a pressure-filled situation* like a debate, instead of orating in an arena.
At worst, this shows Obama being deceptive before a national TV audience on a matter--the stakes, high (United States) or low (state) of opposition to the Iraq war--that he has made critical to his campaign.
Cue the music for another round of What Obama Really Meant!
NOTE * And not all that pressure-filled, either, given how Timmeh et al were teabagging him.
NOTE Hat tip to Davidson in comments.
UPDATE Rootless, linklessly, writes:
[Obama] was already running for US senate in 2002 after an unsuccessful run for the House in 2000.
However, it seems that "already running" means "thinking about running." From the Globe:
Days later, on Oct. 2, 2002, Obama made one of the most important speeches of his political life. Invited to address a hastily organized protest of President Bush's war plans for Iraq, Obama told hundreds of people in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago that invading would be a big mistake.
That fall, Obama had not yet announced his Senate campaign but began lining up friends, supporters, and donors. He signed up David Axelrod, a well-respected Chicago political strategist and ad-maker, to help plot the race he would run.
Other sources agree that Obama did not announce until 2003. Wikipedia:
In 2003, Obama began his run for the U.S. Senate open seat vacated by Peter Fitzgerald.
and not before April 16, 2003, when the incumbent declared that he would not run. Times:
April 16, 2003:
Likely Democratic candidates include Barack Obama, a prominent state senator;
The Almanac of American politics has a similar timeline:
Looming not too far ahead was the 2004 Senate race. Illinois has one of the earliest filing deadlines and state primaries in the nation, in December 2003 and in March 2004 in this case, and the incumbent senator, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, was obviously in trouble. Elected in 1998 in large part because of the ethical shortcomings of incumbent Democrat Carol Moseley Braun, he had compiled an attractive record on ethics himself. But Fitzgerald would have to run in an increasingly Democratic state, and without the support of leading Illinois Republicans; the Republican state committee declined to support Fitzgerald for reelection. In 1998 Fitzgerald had largely self-financed his campaign, but his wealth would have been seriously diminished by another such race, and in April 2003 he announced he would not seek reelection.
With Democratic Senator Richard Durbin comfortably reelected in 2002 and still in the prime of life, it seemed that another Illinois Senate seat would not come open for many years, perhaps a generation, so a host of candidates—eight Democrats and eight Republicans, many of them capable of self-financing a campaign—entered the 2004 race. Initially Obama did not stand out.
And Obama's own Illinois Senate web site tallies with the above chronology. Via the Wayback Machine, we see that Roll Call Magazine says that Democrats, among them Obama, were working "behind the scenes" to replace Fitzgerald as of December 2, 2002. (See all the way at the bottom, and sorry for the yellow.)
And from Obama's own Illinois State Senate web site, he did not announce until January 21, 2003. Again, the Wayback Machine, posting what appears to be a press release (again, sorry for the yellow):
Incidentallly, check that press release also for any mention of Iraq. You won't find it, suggesting that, at least on Obama's mind, his 2002 speech had less importance at the time than it has assumed retrospectively.
In short, when Obama says:
I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign.
He's wrong. He was IN NO WAY "in the midst of" a campaign. He didn't declare until 2003! At most, he was thinking about it, and working behind the scenes to put together a run. That's hardly "high stakes."
That means that when Hillary says:
The fair comparison is he didn’t have responsibility, he didn’t have to vote;
UPDATE And although Obama proselytizers are told to refer voters to the website for all questions of policy, the website, too, makes the same claim.
But if Obama didn't declare until 2003, this part o f the website should be corrected.
NOTE Googling about, I discovered this Mexican site, oddly neglected in this country.
UPDATE See also here.