Barack Obama wants to be president to bring hope back to the American people and restore our nation’s tarnished image in the world, he said Monday.
“I’m a hope monger,” the freshman senator from Illinois confessed. Bumper stickers asking, “Got hope?” were available among the campaign literature.
Obama, 45, spoke to an audience of about 100 outside Kate Hanna’s house on Monday afternoon.
Ann Remus, former superintendent of schools in Bedford, was there as a volunteer and took the wireless microphone around during questions.
In a moment of serendipity, the former superintendent held the mike while special education teacher Mary Anne Albert of Bedford asked about No Child Left Behind. Albert teaches first grade in Derry.
“George Bush left the funding behind,” he said, and doesn’t realize that “not all children are starting in the same place.”
A question about what he would do with the deficit brought another slap at Bush and his so-called “fiscally conservative” administration.
The deficit is “like Iraq, a big hole,” into which the U.S. is pouring $10 to $12 billion a month, which we’re financing by borrowing from China, Obama said.
He’d institute a “pay as you go” policy to create honesty in spending.
Addie Hutchison of Amherst asked who would be in Obama’s cabinet.
The criteria would be that they are competent to serve, he answered.
Several of those he mentioned were formerly in Bill Clinton’s cabinet; they included high-placed generals and a Pulitzer-prize winner.
Afterward, Hutchison said she was “pretty sold” on the candidate, having already heard Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson, and representatives of other candidates.
Hutchison added that she had the “same feeling of hope” after listening to Obama that she felt decades ago when she and her husband William had their first date in 1967 and heard Bobby Kennedy speak.
Clinton’s Nashua appearance was more of a rally and she didn’t answer questions, Hutchison said. And while “you can’t fault” Richardson’s experience, she didn’t feel he is “electable.”
Susan Bureau of Bedford was there with her 15-year-old daughter Hannah. Bureau said she’s not committed to a candidate yet, but found Obama “impressive.”
“It’s good to get up close and personal” with the candidates, she said. Bureau teaches high school in Hudson.
Nancy and Tom Head, independents who are also from Amherst, were also impressed, but still undecided.
“I liked him. He makes a lot of sense. He’s not glib,” Nancy said.
Tom added that politicians’ “stump speeches” were one thing, but “when (Obama) was answering questions, his intelligence comes through. He’s got a vision for the country.”
Except for a couple of babes in arms, Matty Moore, 11, of Bedford was the youngest in the audience.
The McKelvie Intermediate School student said members of his family are Democrats, and, “I think he’s a really good example for our country.”
Ray Giroux, a software engineer from Manchester, had his own agenda for coming to hear the candidate: to see if he wanted to volunteer.
“Every four years I volunteer for a campaign,” he said. “One vote might not matter but here in New Hampshire, working on a campaign is a serious thing” and can make a difference.
Giroux found Obama “very impressive. I thought he did a fine job, but I’m not decided yet.”
Obama was introduced by Hale Melnick, Hanna’s son, who is an intern on the Democratic senator’s presidential campaign.
Melnick, 19, said he was inspired to volunteer by three words posted on the campaign headquarters’ wall in Manchester: “Hope, Action, Change.”
“That describes our campaign right there,” Obama said. “There is an enormous possibility for change in this election.”
“I’m hopefully optimistic” that we can solve our problems, he said, noting that America has been through trouble before.
But Americans have always “stepped up” and wars, slavery and the Great Depression were all times that “required us to be unified.”
“We can solve our problems,” Obama, 45, said, if the country is united. He wants to restore America’s image, which he said has been diminished worldwide.
Bringing up the “E” word, which has dogged him, he said he’s confident in his judgment and would not get “snowed into supporting big PR disasters” such as Iraq as more “experienced” politicians have been.
Other parts of his platform he discussed were:
• Getting out of Iraq as soon as possible.
• Rolling back the Bush tax cuts.
• Instituting universal health care.
• Insisting that automakers increase the fuel-efficiency requirement to 45 miles per gallon.
• Encouraging alternative and renewable sources of energy, starting everywhere by replacing light bulbs with “curlicue” fluorescent ones, which are more efficient. Other simple things that can be done include giving incentives to Granite Staters to insulate their homes, and to Nevadans to install solar panels, for example.
• Promoting early childhood education, supporting teachers, and ensuring that students can afford to go to college to learn to be teachers.
• Modeling our foreign policy after what the U.S. did post-World War II, which was investing in rebuilding war-torn countries. He would also double our foreign aid from the current 1 percent to 2 percent to help with fighting AIDS and situations such as that in the Sudan and elsewhere.
• Not privatizing Social Security or investing those funds in the stock market.
For more specifics, the senator and author referred the audience to his website, www.barackobama.com.