Obama leading McCain and Romney 47% to 38%,

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Barack ObamaJohn McCainMitt Romney

Hat Tip: Rasmussen Reports

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll finds Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) with a nine point lead over Arizona Senator John McCain (R). It’s Obama 47% McCain 38%. That’s little changed from a month ago and the fourth straight monthly poll in which Obama has enjoyed an advantage over McCain. For the two months before that, they were tied.

McCain has had a terrible month of July including a shocking report that his campaign was nearly out of money, staff defections, and declining poll numbers. Among those seeking the Republican nomination, he is currently in fourth place in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. Early in the month, his favorability rating fell to 44% and, for the first time ever, a larger percentage offered an unfavorable opinion of the Senator. Polling released this week showed that McCain’s decline has stopped for the moment–45% now have a favorable opinion of him while 46% hold an unfavorable view.

Last December, McCain had been viewed favorably by 59% of voters. As recently as two months ago, 55% had a positive assessment of the Senator from Arizona.

As McCain seeks to keep his campaign afloat, he does so with a tremendous disadvantage—40% of Republican voters have an unfavorable opinion of him. No other candidate in either party approaches that level (the closest is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, viewed unfavorably by 31% of Republicans).

Obama is now viewed favorably by 54% of voters nationwide and unfavorably by 37%. He remains in second place among those seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton are clearly in a league of their own at this point in the nomination process.

McCain also trails Clinton and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards in general election match-ups.

Obama leads Romney and is in close races with Republican frontrunners Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani.

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Obama’s political expediency is showing

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Hat Tip: By Philip Elliott, Associated Press

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.

“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq.

“Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis,” Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. “There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.”

The greater risk is staying in Iraq, Obama said.

“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnate for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

The senator has been a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, speaking out against it even before he was elected to his post in 2004. He was among the senators who tried unsuccessfully earlier this week to force President Bush’s hand and begin to limit the role of U.S. forces there.

“We have not lost a military battle in Iraq. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they’re asking the wrong question,” he said. “We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade.”

Obama said the answer to Iraq — and other civil conflicts — lies in diplomacy.

“When you have civil conflict like this, military efforts and protective forces can play an important role, especially if they’re under an international mandate as opposed to simply a U.S. mandate. But you can’t solve the underlying problem at the end of a barrel of a gun,” he said. “There’s got to be a deliberate and constant diplomatic effort to get the various factions to recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.”

The Republican National Committee accused Obama of changing his position on the war.

“Barack Obama can’t seem to make up his mind,” said Amber Wilkerson, an RNC spokeswoman. “First he says that a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be ‘a slap in the face’ to the troops, and then he votes to cut funding for our soldiers who are still in harm’s way. Americans are looking for principled leadership — not a rookie politician who is pandering to the left wing of his party in an attempt to win an election.”

An opponent of the death penalty, Obama said he would make an exception for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”