Obama, at Army-Navy football game, praises troops
President Barack Obama, attending his first Army-Navy football game as commander in chief on Saturday, praised the dedication of the country’s armed forces ahead of a week in which he will focus heavily on the end of America’s war in Iraq.
“As much fun as these things are, part of what we celebrate is the dedication and the sacrifice all these young men and young women who are in the stands are going to be making for our country,” Obama told the game’s commentators during the first half of the contest between the U.S. Army and Navy academies.
Virtually all U.S. forces will have left Iraq by December 31, fulfilling an Obama pledge to Americans tired of the nearly nine-year-old war as the president accelerates his campaign for re-election next November.
High unemployment and the fragile economy will likely weigh more heavily with voters than costly foreign wars. But Obama will try to keep the spotlight next week on what he sees as a key national security accomplishment, alongside the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in May.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visits the White House on Monday and will travel with Obama to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Wednesday, where the president and first lady Michelle Obama will thank U.S. service men and women returning home from Iraq.
Almost 4,500 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since President George W. Bush ordered the invasion more than 8-1/2 years ago, based on allegations of weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist.