LITTLETON — Though he said Memorial Day shouldn't be politicized, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama used a visit to a war monument Monday to repeat his call for better services for veterans.
Obama, campaigning in the first-in-the-nation primary state with his wife and daughters, laid a wreath at a war monument before attending a town hall-style meeting.
"This is a day on which we reflect on those who have fallen and reflect on the sacrifices they have made for all of us," Obama said, talking with reporters after the brief ceremony. "This is a great day to think about what we're doing on behalf of our veterans, and what we're not doing on behalf of our veterans."
Obama also responded to news that the American ambassador to Iraq had held extensive talks with his Iranian counterpart Monday to discuss Iraq's future.
"I have to give the administration credit, which I rarely do," Obama said, adding that he wants President Bush to push more diplomacy in the region.
"Not because I trust the Iranians, but because I think they have a self-interest. They don't want to see Iraq completely collapse because they're going to have millions of people pouring over their borders," he said.
Obama has made his opposition to the war in Iraq a central part of his campaign. At a town hall forum Sunday in Conway, his comments on the war prompted a standing ovation, complete with whoops and hollers.
The Illinois senator said he supports the troops, just not their mission.
"There's nobody who doesn't support the troops," Obama said. "This really is a political argument that is designed to deflect criticism of the president's policies in Iraq."
On Sunday, Obama said the country is not providing enough mental health services for active duty troops and veterans. He proposed spending hundreds of million dollars more each year for better care.
Obama is urging the Pentagon to recruit more mental health professions to help identify and treat problems. He said improvements are needed at every stage of military service: recruitment, deployment and re-entry into civilian life.