(WASHINGTON) — As his Republican rivals kick off the final stretch of their campaign, President Obama on Friday will publicly remind voters of his record as commander-in-chief, traveling to a Texas military base to thank service members and commemorate a war he brought to an end.
Obama will visit Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas — home to Army units that deployed in the Iraq War — to hold a private roundtable discussion with service members and deliver an address to mark the two-year anniversary of the end of U.S. combat operations Iraq. The last American troops withdrew from the country in December 2011.
The trip, billed as an official White House visit, is also an opportunity for Obama to highlight what is one of the signature achievements of his first term and the fulfillment of a popular campaign promise from 2008.
“His record is a substantive record when it comes to the profound commitment and decision to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. And his record is substantial when it comes to supporting our veterans,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday of the trip.
The president will emphasize “the effort that his administration is continuing to make and steps that the administration is continuing to take that are essential to ensure that those who fought for us overseas are being fought for by us here at home,” Carney added.
Obama has repeatedly over the past three years sought to remind Americans of his pledge to bring the increasingly unpopular war to a close, hoping to leverage public support for his leadership on the issue into a boost in the polls.
After returning from his first visit to Fort Bliss on Aug. 31, 2010, Obama delivered a nationally-televised Oval Office address to declare Operation Iraqi Freedom over. In October 2011, he took to the White House briefing room to herald a planned complete drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq by year’s end. Three months later, Obama hailed the official end of war in Iraq on a visit to Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
“This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making,” Obama said in December. “And today, we remember everything that you did to make it possible. … Hard work and sacrifice. Those words only begin to describe the cost of this war and the courage of the men and women who have fought it. We know well the heavy cost of this war.”
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Ryan Browne and Evan Perez, CNN
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
Jim Acosta and Greg Clary, CNN