Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Debate Results: Obama wins big" (video)

BarackObamadotcom, with video (04:13):
Courtesy of Frank Luntz, results from the Drexel University debate show a clear end point: Barack Obama displayed leadership and character, emerging as the favorite of the event.


"AP Interview: Obama Criticizes Clinton"

Democrat Barack Obama said Wednesday that rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's less-than-straightforward answers in a Democratic debate raise questions about her ability to assume the presidency.
"This may be smart politics by Washington's standards, but it's not what America needs right now," the first-term Illinois senator told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Chicago. "Turning the page means offering the American people a clear sense of your principles and where you'd lead."

Obama complained that during Tuesday night's debate Clinton didn't provide clear answers on a number of occasions.

"After the most secretive administration in memory, an administration that consistently misled the American people, we need a president who is going to be open and forthright," Obama said. "I think last night's debate really exposed this fault line. Senator Clinton left us wondering where she stood on every single hard question from Iran to Social Security to drivers' licenses for undocumented workers."

Obama said he was especially concerned by Clinton's response when asked if she would release her papers from her years as first lady.

"Her big answer on whether she would release the papers from her White House years was particularly troubling because she is running on her record as first lady as much as on her record as a senator," he said. "How can people fully judge that record if the documents from those years remain locked away?"

Tuesday's debate was the first in a month, and during that time Clinton has gained in the polls and firmly established herself as the front-runner. The debate also came soon after Obama said he would step up his criticism of the New York senator to make clear their differences.

Clinton's campaign responded that Obama has abandoned his pledge to run a positive campaign, or as he described it, the politics of hope.

"With each attack, Senator Obama undermines the central premise of his candidacy. The politics of hope that once characterized his remarks has now been replaced by the kinds of jabs one typically sees from candidates desperate to gain traction in the polls," said Mark Daley, a Clinton spokesman.

The Clinton campaign also posted a Web video arguing that her rivals had been piling on.

"The politics of hope does not mean hoping that your opponents aren't going to point out the differences between you and them," Obama said.

He pledged to continue to draw clear differences between himself and Clinton.

"And frankly, Senator Clinton did it for us yesterday with some of her answers," he said.

Obama said he has based his career on transparency with voters. While in the Illinois Legislature, he said he pushed for ethics reform. In Washington, he said he has released his congressional earmark requests and worked to ensure that lobbyists disclose bundling practices used in fundraising.

He boasted that he has "put forward probably the toughest set of ethics rules for how an Obama administration would operate compared to any other candidate."


Monday, October 29, 2007

"Obama busts a move on 'Ellen'" (video)

MSNBC Video:
Oct. 29: Barack Obama shows off his dance moves on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and MSNBC's Monica Novotny talks to NBC's Chuck Todd about the presidential race.
Howie P.S.: Hotline's 'On Call' has "Dancing Candidate."

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"A Presidential Dialogue With Barack Obama" (video)

MTV/myspace,video, (60:00):
Gideon Yago and Sway introduce the senator to the students of Coe College. (10.29.07)


"Obama Singer Wins Cheers Despite Protest"

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A Grammy-winning singer whose role in a Barack Obama campaign event riled gay activists served as master of ceremonies of a gospel concert promoting the Democratic presidential hopeful Sunday night.

"We're here," Donnie McClurkin told a cheering crowd. "We're here and we're glad we're here."

McClurkin, who has angered gay rights groups by saying homosexuality is a choice, told the crowd the musical acts were there "in the name of unity" and "in the name of change."

An hour earlier, outside the concert venue, about two dozen gay and lesbian group supporters marched and carried a rainbow flag.

McClurkin was headlining an "Embrace the Change" concert that capped a weekend of gospel music that Obama, an Illinois senator, is hoping to use to recruit churchgoers _ and music lovers _ in this early voting state.

But McClurkin's presence created a rift as gay and lesbian activists tried to force Obama to boot the singer from the lineup. Obama wouldn't budge, but he tried to quell the anger by adding an openly gay pastor to the event. McClurkin, who has said he does not believe in discriminating against homosexuals, spent much of Sunday evening introducing the acts.

Obama did not attend the event, but in a video played for more than 2,000 at the Township Auditorium he called the evening's acts "inspirational talent" that were among his favorites.

The people in the crowd agreed with their feet, standing and waving and clapping hands to the blaring music, regularly joining in to sing.

Obama has been courting churchgoers heavily in South Carolina. Earlier this month, he spent two Sundays at churches in Columbia and Greenville.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Obama: 'Wind' (video)

H/t to Ben Smith, with video (00:32) here.
Obama keeps the focus on Social Security, with only indirect shots at Clinton.

"I don’t want to just put my finger out to the wind and see what the polls say. I want to bring the country together to solve a problem," he says.

Script after the jump.

Script of “Wind”:

OBAMA: I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message.

OBAMA: We’ve got 78 million baby boomers who are going to be retiring. There’s going to be more money going out than money coming in.

OBAMA: If we have failed to have a real, honest conversation about Social Security, it will not get fixed. This is a program that millions of people depend on.

The Obama Principles:

· Protect benefits

· No privatization of Social Security

· End Social Security tax exemption for the wealthy

OBAMA: I don’t want to just put my finger out to the wind and see what the polls say. I want to bring the country together to solve a problem. [Applause]


"Obama’s concert tour makes stop at Civic Center"

Index Journal (Greenwood, SC):
In the final days of Barack Obama’s South Carolina “40 Days of Faith & Family” campaign, the '08 presidential candidate’s “Embrace the Change” concert tour made a Saturday night stop at the Greenwood Civic Center.
The concert tour focused on getting people to the polls, informing voters about the candidate and engaging in gospel music.

Greenwood County Council member Edith Childs got the proceedings going using her own special methods.

“Are we fired up?” she asked in a shout. “We’re going to get the place rocking.”

Rock it did. The concert was more like a powerful church service. Attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and lifted their voices in unison.

The MLK Mass Choir took the stage, setting up the night for the other performers -- Byron Cage, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and gospel quartet Mighty Clouds of Joy.

Those artists, and others, are on tour in South Carolina, also hitting Columbia and Charleston.

In a press release, Joshua DuBois, the campaign’s national religious affairs director, said the concert shows how Obama’s campaign is unique in its own way.

“This is another example of how Barack Obama is defying conventional wisdom about how politics is done and giving new meaning to meeting people at the grassroots level,” he said. “This concert tour is going to bring new people into the political process and engage people of faith in an unprecedented way.”

“Bringing together artists of this caliber, on one stage, in support of one man, speaks volumes about the purpose of that man,” Carter said. “And collectively, we embrace this change.”

Amaya Smith, press secretary for the campaign, said the night was “specifically to reach out to voters of faith, people of faith to talk about Senator Obama’s faith and how to actually act based on your faith, and how that affects your policy, and how to use your faith in real life.

“This is a great opportunity to hear from really great artists as well and learn a little bit about Senator Obama. If they’re on the fence, and if they’re not, they can still participate in a really great event.”

Andy Sykora, of Custom Audio and Lighting in Hodges, said his company set up audio and visual equipment for the night. He said he is really impressed with Obama’s campaign crew as well as the event itself.

“This is total Southern gospel music,” he said. “This is like a R&B band but with a Christian, religious influence. They come with a high energy, for sure. People really support their music.”


Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Obama says Clinton "not ready to lead" (with audio)

Radio Iowa:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is leveling harsher attacks on rival Hillary Clinton, arguing Clinton hasn't leveled with the American people about what she'd do as president.
During an event in Des Moines early Saturday afternoon, Obama accused Clinton of repeatedly sidestepping questions about Social Security because it's a hot-button issue. "You might remember that this came up in the last presidential debate and when Senator Clinton was asked about it, she wouldn't say what she thought needed to be done," Obama said.

While Obama said Clinton wasn't alone in "ducking" questions about Social Security's long-term financial health, Obama pointedly attacked Clinton's campaign claim that she is "ready to lead" the country.

"A candidate for president owes it to the American people to tell us where they stand because you're not ready to lead if you can't tell us where you're going," Obama told the crowd of about a hundred people gathered at a senior center.

Obama favors raising the payroll taxes that finance Social Security so wealthy Americans -- who aren't today taxed on income above the level of $97,500 -- pay more into the Social Security system. "The underlying system is sound. The actual problem is a projected cash shortfall problem that can be readily solved," Obama said. "But the longer we wait to solve the problem, the bigger it grows."

Obama's campaign had Tod Bowman, a teacher at Maquoketa High School, speak to the crowd first. "I was at a forum with Senator Clinton and had the chance to ask her what she would do to protect Social Security," Bowman said. "She gave a lengthy response that didn't answer my question and I got the feeling that she really didn't want to answer my question."

The Clinton campaign, in turn, is accusing Obama of reversing course on Social Security, arguing a few months ago Obama said "everything was on the table, including raising the retirement age." Mark Daley, an Iowa-based spokesman for Senator Clinton, said Clinton has been "clear" about her approach to dealing with Social Security and has said she wants a bipartisan approach that would not include the private accounts President Bush has pushed.

Click on the audio link below to listen to Bowman's brief remarks, then Obama's speech in Des Moines.

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"Obama Promises a Forceful Stand Against Clinton"

NY Times:
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 27 — Senator Barack Obama says he will start confronting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton more forcefully, declaring that she had not been candid in describing her views on critical issues, as he tries to address mounting alarm among supporters that his lack of assertiveness has allowed her to dominate the presidential race.

Mr. Obama’s vow to go on the offensive comes just over two months before the first votes are cast for the Democratic nomination, and after a long period in which his aides, donors and other supporters have battled — and in some cases shared — the perception that he has not exhibited the aggressiveness demanded by presidential politics.
In an interview on Friday that appeared timed by his campaign to signal the change of course, Mr. Obama said “now is the time” for him to distinguish himself from Mrs. Clinton. While he said that he was not out to “kneecap the front-runner, because I don’t think that’s what the country is looking for,” he said she was deliberately obscuring her positions for political gain and was less likely than he was to win back the White House for Democrats.

Asked if Mrs. Clinton had been fully truthful with voters about what she would do as president, Mr. Obama replied, “No.”

“I don’t think people know what her agenda exactly is,” Mr. Obama added, citing Social Security, Iraq and Iran as issues on which she had not been entirely forthcoming.

“Now it’s been very deft politically,” he said. “But one of the things that I firmly believe is that we’ve got to be clear with the American people right now about the important choices that we’re going to need to make in order to get a mandate for change, not to try to obfuscate and avoid being a target in the general election.”

For months, Democrats, including some within Mr. Obama’s campaign, have questioned whether his promise to pursue a brand of politics that transcended partisanship had so handcuffed him that he could not compete in the most partisan of arenas.

Alan D. Solomont, a former contributor to both Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton who is now raising money for Mr. Obama in Boston, said there was a growing consensus that Mr. Obama had to ratchet up his intensity and draw sharper distinctions with Mrs. Clinton, of New York, and other rivals.

“The only way that he’s going to be able to be clear with the American people,” Mr. Solomont said in an interview, “is to draw a distinction between his candidacy and his ideas about change and those of other candidates. It’s fair to say that he is beginning to do that, but he hasn’t done enough yet.”

In the interview, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, acknowledged that he had held back until now, though he asserted it was a calculated decision to introduce himself in early voting states before engaging opponents. At times, he said, he has taken lines out of speeches prepared by his campaign that he felt were “stretching the truth.”

But Mr. Obama said the plan had always been for him to begin taking on Mrs. Clinton more directly in the fall. And he glared and said no when asked if he lacked the stomach for confrontational politics. “It is absolutely true that we have to make these distinctions clearer,” he said. “And I will not shy away from doing that.”

A test of just how far Mr. Obama is willing to go should come Tuesday night, when Democrats meet for a nationally televised debate in Philadelphia. [In a campaign statement issued Saturday in Iowa, Mr. Obama asserted that Mrs. Clinton had “repeatedly dodged opportunities to reveal her thinking about the best way to strengthen Social Security.”]

The interview came amid growing signs that Mr. Obama was looking for a fresh start for his campaign after nine months in which his aides said they were startled by the effectiveness of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, and worried that her support was not as brittle as they had once believed.

Mr. Obama has built up his campaign war room, occasionally traveling with a speechwriter — reflecting concern of his aides that his public speeches tend to be long-winded — and begun spending more money on television advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire.

His senior aides said they were now spending much of their days fielding calls from concerned donors and other supporters asking why Mr. Obama was not challenging Mrs. Clinton more forcefully and warning that he could cede the role of the main anti-Clinton candidate to former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who is running an aggressive campaign in Iowa. Typically, one aide said, the supporter asks some version of the same question: “What happened to the Obama we saw at the 2004 Democratic convention?”

At the same time, aides said there was disagreement in the campaign about whether he should now begin investing all his time in Iowa, where polls show him to be running neck-and-neck with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards, hoping that a victory there would give him a lift in New Hampshire, where polls show him trailing.

Morale at his Chicago headquarters, aides said, has been dragged down by the perception that Mrs. Clinton is lapping Mr. Obama. And aides said that they had been struggling for weeks for a balance between offering a contrast with Mrs. Clinton and avoiding the anger that they said had marked Mr. Edwards’s candidacy.

In a 53-minute interview over a breakfast of boiled eggs (he ate only the egg whites), aboard a chartered jet that brought him here from Chicago, Mr. Obama said Mrs. Clinton had been untruthful or misleading in describing her positions on problems facing the nation. He accused her of “straddling between the Giuliani, Romney side of the foreign policy equation and the Barack Obama side of the equation.” He said that she was trying to “sound or vote” like a Republican on national security issues and that her approach was “bad for the country and ultimately bad for Democrats.”

Mr. Obama suggested that she was too divisive to win a general election and that if she won, she would be unable to bring together competing factions in Washington to accomplish anything.

“There is a legacy that is both an enormous advantage to her in a Democratic primary, but also a disadvantage to her in a general election,” he said. “I don’t think anybody would claim that Senator Clinton is going to inspire a horde of new voters. I don’t think it’s realistic that she is going to get a whole bunch of Republicans to think differently about her.”

Asked about Mr. Obama’s remarks, Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said, “Senator Obama once promised Americans a politics of hope. But now that his campaign has stalled he is abandoning that strategy and is engaging in the same old-style personal attacks that he once rejected.”

“We are confident,” Mr. Wolfson added, “that voters will reject this strategy, especially from a candidate who told us he would do better.”

Mr. Obama said he was not concerned by a repeated spate of national polls showing lopsided support for Mrs. Clinton. “The national press for the last three months has written glowingly about her and not so much about me, so it’s not surprising,” he said. He described himself as an “underdog” running against a campaign that has “a 20-year head start when it comes to managing the spin of the national politics.”

Many people are only beginning to focus on the race now, and early front-runners can stumble when the voting starts. But the Obama campaign has faced a political narrative in recent weeks that even Mr. Obama’s aides have described, in no small part because of a succession of polls, as establishing Mrs. Clinton as the front-runner. In one small example, a member of Mr. Obama’s national finance committee, Robert Farmer, told the campaign this week that he was formally switching allegiances to the Clinton campaign. Mr. Farmer has contributed money to five Democratic presidential candidates this year, including the maximum amount allowed to Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards.

Though Mr. Obama’s criticisms of Mrs. Clinton were sharper than he has voiced during this campaign, they were, nonetheless, still somewhat restrained, certainly when compared with the criticisms that have been voiced of Mrs. Clinton by Mr. Edwards and much of the Republican field.

Mr. Obama rejected the suggestion that he had been constrained in taking on Mrs. Clinton more forcefully because of his promise, at the start of the campaign, to avoid the bitter partisanship of past campaigns. Mr. Obama, who aides suggested might be spending too much time reading blogs and newspaper clippings about the campaign, dismissively noted how the Clinton campaign regularly raised that line against him.

“I’ve been amused by seeing some of the commentary out of the Clinton camp, where every time we point out a difference between me and her, they say, ‘What happened to the politics of hope?’ which is just silly,” he said, laughing.

Asked why it was silly, he responded: “The notion that somehow changing the tone means simply that we let them say whatever they want to say or that there are no disagreements and that we’re all holding hands and singing ‘Kumbaya’ is obviously not what I had in mind and not how I function. And anybody who thinks I have hasn’t been paying attention.”

That said, Mr. Obama and his campaign have until now frequently avoided potential confrontations. His aides said, for example, that they had declined an invitation from some networks to appear on Sunday morning talk shows after Mrs. Clinton the day she appeared on five in one day to talk about her health care plan.

Despite the problems facing his campaign and the concern being voiced by donors and supporters, Mr. Obama projected a relaxed air of confidence throughout the interview.

As his chartered plane landed in Columbus and taxied across the tarmac, he leaned forward in his leather captain’s chair and finished the interview with an inquiry of his own.

“So,” he said, “give me some gossip about the Republicans.”
Howie P.S.: Here's a fresh example today of Obama's approach: "Obama singles out Clinton for Social Security 'spin'."

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Friday, October 26, 2007

"Affleck voting for Obama" (video)

CNN, video (02:43):
Actor Ben Affleck talks politics with CNN's Larry King.


"This Week On Air: Michelle Obama" (transcript, audio to follow later)

National Journal:
A discussion with Michelle Obama, the wife of presidential contender Barack Obama.
National Journal's Linda Douglass spoke with Michelle Obama in a pre-recorded interview for the fifth edition of "National Journal On Air." This is a transcript of their conversation.
Q: So first, I want to welcome you and thank you very much for joining us here on 'National Journal On Air,' Mrs. Obama.
Obama: Hi. How are you? It's good to be here.
Q: Very good, very good. So you have been talking this week a lot about your family, about your role as a political wife and mother and all of the complexities that involves. How has this campaign been for your children? Is it a good experience for them or a troubling one?
Obama: Overall, it's been a good experience for them. We're blessed in a number of ways. I think our kids are at an age -- they are 9 and 6 -- where, you know, the broader impact of this on a daily basis is just minor. At that age they're really focused on their school, their work, their activities. So they can peer out of their worlds every now and then and get a glimpse into this experience, and often times when they do it's just full of fun.

You know, they get on the road, and they're at some fair and they get ice cream and they meet new friends... for them, it's one big party. So they have been very good at keeping us grounded and focused. Because, you know, kids at that age really remind you every day what's really important, what is at stake. They keep us really clear. So it's been good.

Q: You do seem like a woman who likes to say what she thinks. How has it been for you to have to watch what you say on the campaign trail?
Obama: You know, I have tried not to let this campaign change who I am, fundamentally. I really try to stay very true to who I am. First and foremost, it's the easiest thing for me to remember. You know, if I am authentically me, then I don't have to worry about contradicting myself because I'm telling the truth. And I also hope that people can really feel authenticity and honesty. I'm hoping that if I give people truth and openness, if I offer that, then people will receive that in the way that it's intended and my experience on the campaign trail is that people are pleasantly surprised to be able to have a real conversation with someone.

So I've tried not to hold back. I just want to make sure that people understand who we are, they understand who Barack and Michelle Obama are as people, and that that's going to be sufficient for most voters.

Q: And you do talk about him as a person and about your lives together to bring the human dimension into your characterization of him. But you are a professional in your own right -- a Harvard-trained lawyer. Do you give him policy advice?
Obama: You know, this is such a whirlwind of an experience that truthfully, when we see each other, we're talking about our kids. We're talking about, you know, our own relationship and the stuff that we've missed for the week that I haven't seen him. But we do talk -- as any couple do -- we talk about the things we care about, we talk about events in the world, we've always done that. He knows every opinion that I hold.

There are times when he'll call and ask me what I think on a given issue, but do I consider myself a chief policy adviser? No. Actually, I don't, because I've got so much of my own stuff going on, the last thing I have time to do is sit in a set of meetings when we've brought on some of the best experts in the field. You know, so my thing is great: Do your job, get it done, and then I can do the things that I have time to do, take care of my kids, be on the road, make sure that I'm in health, that our house isn't falling apart. And I'm still working at my job as well, just in a very reduced schedule. But I'm talking to my staff and meeting with my colleagues as much as I can. So I've got more than enough on my plate without taking on more of what he's doing.

Q: I can only imagine. Well, as you know, of course the core of Hillary Clinton's support is women. Couple questions on that front: No. 1, why do you think that is? And No. 2, why do you think that women should be choosing your husband over her?
Obama: My hope is that this time around, the American people will pick the person who will offer us the best type of leadership that we need right now, and the truth of the matter is that while I think that policies and plans and positions are important -- Barack has said this before -- that's not what's ailing us as a nation. We know the answers to a lot of the problems that we face. But what we haven't been able to do is come together as a nation and really see ourselves and one another in a way that will give us the strength to push through some of the political blocks that keep us from getting to these answers.

We need leadership that's going to inspire us to be a different kind of nation. We need someone who is going to challenge us to really think deeply about who we want to be, what kind of country do we want to be? What does it mean to say that we care about children in this country if we aren't going to push to ensure that every child has access to a quality public education and that every family has access to affordable and quality health care. This is about who we are as a nation and right now, Barack is that leader. Barack is that person who is going to be able to unite the country in a way that I don't think that anybody else in this race is going to be able to do, and that's going to result in huge benefits to women and families. That's what I hope that women are looking for. Not just whose turn it is or what's next, but who do we need right now.

Q: You could understand, probably, as a woman, that little twinge of pride that some women say they're feeling when they see Hillary Clinton. Do you think that's justified?
Obama: Obviously, just as it's true among African Americans and young people who look at Barack and feel the same thing. But that's not enough. You know I would say this too, I would tell black folks, don't vote for Barack just because he's African American. I mean, we need to dig deeper than that. This isn't just, 'who is next, whose turn is it.' That's the only thing I don't like about it, because politics shouldn't be about whose turn it is, or who should have this because they've waited or they've spent time or we haven't seen this.

I mean, the problems that we're facing as a country are just too serious for us not to really think deeply about what we need in terms of leadership. We didn't do that when we elected the last president. We weren't thinking deeply about a vision for the country and, you know, what the presidency would mean around the world, what kind of messages it would send. We really need to do that now, because we don't have time to waste.

You know, when I think about four years and what that means in the life of a young person -- we've got kids who have spent their entire college careers with the nation at war. That's all they've known, so four years in the life of young people is important, which means that we've got to get this right and we have to think deeply about who we want to be as a country and what leadership will reflect that.

Q: You know some of your husband's supporters and certainly many of the pundits are saying that he must start drawing sharper contrasts between himself and Sen. Clinton. What's your advice on that?
Obama: I agree. I mean, I want people to really understand the choices that are there. Because it's easy to blur the lines, it's easy for example -- you know, people adopt this notion that Barack, he's just not experienced. Well, that's so not true. What Barack doesn't have are years in Washington, but he's been in elected public office longer than any of the front-runners. He's had, you know, experiences like living abroad and working in communities that other candidates haven't had. He has 25 years of experience in public and community service in ways that the other candidates have not, yet sometimes we fall into that mindset of throwing that experience question out there as if it has some meaning. So I think we're going to have to make sure that people understand that sometimes politics is a game, and sometimes people will distort the truth, and we have to be clear that not every candidate can claim to be the change candidate just because they say they're the change candidate.
Q: Is he more of a change candidate than she is and, if so, why?
Obama: Well, he hasn't built his career on the conventions of Washington. I mean, you can't have it both ways. You can't say 'I'm experienced in the ways in Washington, but I'm going to be the change candidate.' You know, you just can't have it both ways. So it's important for the American people to understand choices, votes, actions, we need to look at what people say and do and how that has affected some of the directions that we've taken as a country.

The war that we're in is a huge case in point. Right now, the war is dominating every major-- all the focus of our political process right now, it's taking up every resource that we've had, and it's keeping us from focusing on domestic issues like health care and education. But when you look at the choices that the candidates in the race made, you've got some clear choices. You've got a number of the candidates who went with conventional wisdom, and in the face of the evidence that was before them, they took the easy route, they voted for what felt like a popular war.

Barack, on the other hand, did not, and he did it at a time when it was very risky for him in the midst of a highly contested U.S. Senate primary, to stand up and tell the truth about what he saw and what he felt would be a disastrous consequence. You know, those are real choices, and there are a lot of Americans who might not realize that there are major choices like that.

And, you know, Barack's opponents are certainly not going to bring up those choices, so it's really incumbent upon him to make sure that the American people know how people make decisions, how those decisions impact the nation. So I am glad he's taking that approach because I want people to know what they have before them, what their choices are in this election.

Q: Just a couple more quick ones, because I know we're almost out of time.
Do you think that there is, as some critics say, 'Clinton Fatigue?'
Obama: You know, that I can't comment on, because you know we're going to see how that plays out in this next election. But there are choices in this race. You've got people who are going to offer something fundamentally different to the process, so obviously we have a bit of fatigue or else we wouldn't be running.
Q: Well, thank you very much, Mrs. Obama. We really appreciate your spending time with us.
Obama: Thank you so much. It was great to talk to you.
Howie P.S.: Another Obama supporter takes a harsher tone, chiding the DCCC in a diary on Kos for allowing Bill Clinton to ask everyone on their email list to "send Hillary birthday wishes."

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Barack Obama Youth Director Hans Riemer" (audio)

Alex Beinstein (audio, 10:43):
Riemer talks to us about how the Obama campaign is going to get college students to vote, the differences between Clinton and Obama on Iran, where Obama stands on Darfur, and the uniqueness of South Carolina.


"Obama luring ex-Bill Clinton aides"

Boston Globe:
Many view candidate as face of future--When Deval Patrick called on a sea of nearly 10,000 people to support Barack Obama for president, he became only the latest in a series of high-profile officials from Bill Clinton's administration endorsing, advising, or working for Obama, Hillary Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton enjoys the backing of much of her husband's political machine and her own ultra-loyal staff from the 1990s, and both groups have helped build an air of inevitability about her winning the nomination. But a significant group of former Clinton advisers and officials have gone the other way.

Former energy and transportation secretary Federico Peña, former commerce secretary William Daley, foreign policy gurus Anthony Lake and Susan Rice, former Navy secretary Richard Danzig, and women's advocate Betsy Myers are among those who served Bill Clinton but have taken Obama's side. Patrick, who was assistant attorney general for civil rights, endorsed him at rally on Boston Common on Tuesday night.

In interviews this week, half a dozen Obama supporters with Clinton roots said they see the 46-year-old, first-term Illinois senator as the face of the future and the best hope for the party. While they don't directly criticize Clinton, they said that another Clinton presidency would not represent enough of a change in American politics or its image in the world. Some also said she is too divisive to beat the Republican nominee or to govern effectively.

"One of the chief things that would energize a very dispirited Republican Party is Hillary Clinton on the ticket," said Eric Holder, who was second-in-command at the Justice Department in the late 1990s and who likens Obama to John F. Kennedy.

Holder said Clinton's high negative ratings are a result of Republican attacks, not her own doing. "I say this with sadness, but it is nevertheless a reality," he said. "My feelings of loyalty are outweighed by my concern about the world my kids are going to live in."

Most of those who served during her husband's two terms are supporting Clinton, her campaign says. They include former secretaries of state Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright - who is stumping for Clinton in New Hampshire today - former chiefs of staff John Podesta and Erskine Bowles, former secretary of the interior Bruce Babbitt, former secretary of energy Hazel O'Leary and economic adviser Gene Sperling.

Members of Clinton's own White House staff, who have long called themselves "Hillaryland," are also famously devoted to her. They include her campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, policy director Neera Tanden, and top advisers Ann Lewis and Maggie Williams.

"Senator Clinton is honored by the tremendous support she's received from hundreds of former Clinton administration officials and employees she has known for decades," campaign spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said yesterday.

A few Clinton alumni have joined other Democratic campaigns, including Miles Lackey, a former National Security Council member advising John Edwards, and Doug Sosnik, a top Clinton aide who is advising Chris Dodd. Both Lackey and Sosnik have longstanding ties to the candidates they are supporting.

But some of the former Clinton administration officials, including Peña, Danzig, and Myers, didn't know Obama before they considered joining his campaign. Rather, they were inspired by his appeal to optimism and call for less division in politics. Several people said they were deeply moved by his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," and his celebrated speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.

Some also cited his youth as a plus, saying it is time for a new generation to take power. At 46, he is the youngest major party presidential candidate. Clinton turns 60 tomorrow.

"He's a thoughtful, youthful new voice with a new vision for finding common ground, rather than finding a reason for conflict and difference," said Greg Craig, who defended Bill Clinton against impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and now advises Obama on foreign policy. "I think he represents the future and everybody else in this election is more of same of the past."

Several people stressed they were choosing Obama, not rejecting Clinton. "I admire her so much," said Myers, who launched the White House office for women's initiatives and outreach and is now the Obama campaign's chief operating officer.

There have been whispers that the Clinton campaign has been heavy-handed in pressuring political veterans not to sign up with any of her rivals, but the Obama supporters said they'd experienced no such thing.

When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, people who had worked for his Democratic rivals were often bypassed for White House jobs, said David Gergen, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government who served in the administrations of several presidents, including Clinton, and has not taken sides in the 2008 election.

Each former Clinton official who now supports Obama "had to make the decision knowing that, very likely, you would burn your bridges," he said. But perhaps paradoxically, Gergen said, Clinton's wide lead in national polls has thawed tensions between the two camps. "There's a lot of goodwill right now at the staff level."

Although the shifts seem to have slowed as Clinton's lead has grown, Peña, who endorsed Obama about six weeks ago, said there may be more. 'The interesting thing is the people from the administration who called and wanted to know my thinking," he said. "They were intrigued."


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Obama radio: 'For real'" (with audio)

Ben Smith, with audio:
It's the season for folksy Iowa media, apparently, and Obama hits a standard that will be hard to beat with his radio spot today featuring the state's famed (who knew/?) sculptor of butter cows, Duffy Lyon (pictured above).

“You know, you see a lot of manure in our line of work,” Lyon says. “It’s a lot like politics. You got to know what’s bull and what’s for real.”

Listen here.


"Deval Patrick Endorses Barack Obama" (video)

BarackObamadotcom, video (02:23):
At a huge rally on Boston Common, Governor Deval Patrick endorses Barack Obama.

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"'No crusade' to cure gays, says Obama's gospel star"

The Swamp (Chicago Tribune's political blog):
Gospel music superstar Donnie McClurkin says he was surprised to wake up Tuesday morning to a media firestorm.
The 47-year-old Grammy-award winning and best-selling musician is scheduled to perform this weekend at Senator Barack Obama’s three-day concert series in South Carolina. Bloggers, for the most part, are calling for the senator to cancel the singer’s Sunday night appearance, saying that his views are anti-gay and incite hate. His ideals and most importantly his ministry, he says, were severely misconstrued.

“Most of the things that were said were totally out of context and then other things weren’t true,” says McClurkin in an exclusive interview with the Tribune. “My only concern is to be in place with Senator Obama in unity and bring all the factors together for the sake of change. That’s my only thing. Of course some agents have twisted it as though he [Obama] were embracing a racist or a Nazi, and that is anything but true.”

McClurkin and Obama first connected last month in California at an Oprah Winfrey fundraiser for the presidential candidate.

“I believe in his stance. I believe in his platform and his agenda. So when they asked me if I would be apart of it, there was no problem,” says McClurkin, who has performed at both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention and identifies himself as a democrat. “We don’t have to agree on everything, but we do have to agree on the main thing: that there needs to be change and I believe he is the candidate to bring it.”

For years, McClurkin has talked from the pulpit about how he was raped by a male family member as a child. It was that act, he has said, that sent him into living as a gay man for the better part of 20 years. He now says that he is straight and that his ministry is open to those who say they no longer want to live life as a gay person. What he doesn’t do, he says, is crusade against homosexuality.

“I don’t believe that even from a religious point of view that Jesus ever discriminated toward anyone nor do I,” he says. “There’s never been a statement made by me about curing homosexuality. People are using that in order to incite anger and to twist my whole platform on it. There’s no crusade for curing it or to convert everyone. This is just for those who come to me and ask for change.”

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Obama and the Netroots

VCubed, commenting on the post "Not Net-Rooting for Obama," on the Washington Post political blog, "The Trail":
I've also been constantly amazed at the "liberal" blogosphere's treatment of Obama. They endorse Edwards, a Dixiecrat whose voting record earned him the high mark of 32% from environmental defense groups to Obama's 100%; Edwards, whose experience and legislation in domestic and foreign policy isn't half of Obama's, who was a civil rights/constitutional law expert and attorney and elected to the state then U.S. Senate. (Edwards: lawyer, Senator one term, no major legislation, voted for Iraq War.) Now it's Dodd they're calling the go-to guy??!!
The liberal blogosphere is making itself more irrelevant this campaign season instead of more influential. Many are playing the old political games, forming PACs, which Obama won't take a dime from, and 527s, which Obama discourages all supporters from joining so there aren't smear ads put out against opponents "on his behalf" - don't do him any favors, says he.

Plain and simple: They don't fund or control Obama, Obama does not seek their undying favor, they are not the center of his political universe. Believe it or not, there are millions of people still without computers and/or internet access in the U.S., and many who have access never, ever visit a "liberal" political blog or read online news from MSM beyond the sports and weather and local news.

"Liberal" bloggers don't reach out to the elderly, or to people of color, and they still speak about the LGBT population as if it's one monolithic population - all white! It's not! Black, Asian, Latino LGBT folks deal with homophobes in the family every day, just as much as poor white LGBT folks do. If they're religious they go to intolerant churches, synogogues or mosques just for the fellowship of fellow believers, despite the vitriol they are subjected to. When there are enough of them, they form their own places of worship and tolerance.

Obama's church is one of those denominations that is open and accepting of all worshippers, gay or straight, black or white or Latino or Asian or Native American. Here in the California Bay Area, there is a church from Obama's denomination that is led by a black lesbian pastor, and has the only transgender gospel choir in the nation!

Tolerance increases with education, which increases with money or some lucky opportunities, that's just a fact.

Obama will address liberals' issues better and more honestly and directly than anyone, beholden to no one. They just don't seem to want a black man to be president - it's beyond me. I've never seen primarily white liberals (who predominate in those blogs) ignore such a stellar civil rights activist and attorney, constitutional law professor [qualified for the Supreme Court], grassroots activist, black candidate with a legislative, never mind environmental record like Obama's - not that we've ever had a candidate like that before.

Many of the "liberal" bloggers don't even stick to their professed liberal values. They say they'll vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination - as if she weren't the #1 recipient of lobbyist/PAC/527 dollars, and as if nominations drop into anyone's lap!

They don't work for a candidate in any way but blogging. Going door-to-door, doing outreach, volunteering, addressing the hundreds of issues all different people care about, face-to-face, that's really working for a candidate.

I think lots of these bloggers would freak out at walking out among different people with different values and beliefs to register voters and promote their candidate. That's why Dean lost; they thought they could just break away from their monitors at the last minute and yell their message out to people with very different lifestyles and win!

It's what I'm most grateful for with Obama - after reading his Audacity of Hope, I don't compartmentalize people by physical/ideological/religious identities anymore. I don't police what others should think, feel anymore. I'll have a discussion with anyone now and almost always find some common ground. I've made more progress getting "traditional" opposition to see my side than I ever made by rejecting, ridiculing and insulting people for their beliefs, and I see them as human beings again, not as categories.

Another poster here spoke the truth; it's like the bloggers are getting to be more and more like MSM; foment conflict with incendiary headlines to increase readership. The liberal blogosphere dumbs down readers/viewers/listeners just like MSM, it promotes rancor and shouting matches like MSM, and does nothing to get our democracy functioning to solve real problems.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Your problem is with black people in South Carolina"

Geekesque's diary on Daily Kos:
Let's stop dancing around the fringes of what's going on with the Donnie McClurkin story. He's said some really offensive, really ignorant, really appalling, and totally unacceptable things about LGBT folks.

So, the theory goes, this guy should be publicly repudiated by the Obama campaign.

This, quite frankly, is nuts. If you believe in a big tent.

The cold splash of reality below the fold. If this is the test, that Barack Obama--or any other Democrat who really cares about gay rights--needs to publicly denounce and personally repudiate anyone with Donnie McClurkin's views about homosexuality, then you are essentially calling for a purge of African-American voters in the South from the party.

Don't believe me?

Believe the math.

I’m going to read a list of things that some people do. For each, thinking about your own values and morals, I’d like you to tell me whether you think it is acceptable or unacceptable.

The first is sex between two adults of the same sex. Is that acceptable or unacceptable? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Strongly Acceptable 11.5
Somewhat Acceptable 10.3
Somewhat Unacceptable 12.1
Strongly Unacceptable 62.0
Don't Know/Not Sure 3.4
Refused 0.6

In other words, if a candidate appears on stage with 100 black South Carolinians, 62 of them share the basic beliefs of McClurkin towards homosexuality. (They may not have his zany ex-gay beliefs, but then most of them probably weren't repeatedly raped by a male relative as a child).

If there are 10,000 people in the audience at a gospel concert, 6,200 hold the same basic beliefs as Donnie McClurkin.

Go ahead. Get up on stage and tell them all to go home. Call them all a bunch of hateful bigots. Compare them to the KKK (they'll really love that one).

Because the Republican party would like nothing more. Nothing.

Now, if you really, really think that we should tell all those people that they're not good enough to be in the Democratic party, support Democratic candidates, and help elect Democrats to office, you ought to state whether you have a plan to make up for all of those voters that you'd export to the Republicans, or whether you'd just prefer permanent minority party status.

If you believe in a big tent, a sometimes uneasy coalition that lurches and crawls but never cruises forward, we're going to have to share the stage with people whose views appall us.

This is not to excuse homophobia. Homophobia sucks. It is awful.

We've had uneasy coalitions before, such as we had during the New Deal, when white Southern racists were part of that coalition. And tremendous progress was made. And now the KKK is a hated fringe group even within the most rightwing of Republicans.

People holding homophobic views need to be educated, not repudiated. Engaged, not shunned.

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Action talks, and bullshit walks. Either you're for the 50-state strategy, or you're for the 10 state strategy where a comfortable majority aren't homophobic.


"Red (Sox) State Endorsement for Obama"

The Caucus (NY Times political blog):
BOSTON – Senator Barack Obama arrived here tonight on the eve of the World Series, so it came as little surprise that politics fused with the optimistic spirit of Red Sox nation.
“Around here, we know how to come from behind and win,” said Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. “And that’s what we’re doing here tonight.”

In presenting his formal endorsement of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, Mr. Patrick urged Democrats to shake themselves from their confident slumber, declaring: “Discontent with Republicans is not enough to assure Democratic victory. Nor should it be.”

Mr. Patrick, the nation’s only African-American governor, delivered a forceful argument for why he believes Mr. Obama should be elected president. He is the third governor to endorse Mr. Obama; by contrast, five governors have signed on with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Here is a passage from Mr. Patrick’s remarks, delivered in the heart of Boston Common before a crowd of several thousand supporters:

For once, I want a campaign that’s not about the candidate, but about us.

Not about a resumé, but about character. Not about connections or convenience, but about conviction. Not about smearing the competition, but about lifting us all up. Not about the right and the left, but about right and wrong. Not about yesterday, but about tomorrow.

I don’t care whether the next president has experience in the White House. I care whether he understands life in your house.

I don’t care whether the next president has already met foreign heads of state. I care whether he knows something about how people live and think in distant cities and villages and can remember that our actions affect them, too.

I don’t care whether the next president is the first black president or the first woman president or the first whatever, to tell you the truth. I care that the next president has moral courage, a political backbone, the humility to admit what he doesn’t know, and the wisdom to learn from others.

It is impossible, of course, to place a precise value on a political endorsement. But advisers to Mr. Obama believe that the army of grassroots supporters who helped elect Mr. Patrick could be useful volunteers in neighboring New Hampshire.

As Mr. Obama spoke before a giant American flag, hanging from the columns of Parkman Bandstand, the large crowd spread across the sprawling grounds of Boston Common.

Barun Singh, 24, who runs his own Web development company said that he decided to support Mr. Obama once he was sure Al Gore wasn’t getting into the race.

“He’s the first inspiring candidate for any higher-level public office that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Mr. Singh said. “The country has been lacking optimism for some time. That’s what people are looking for more than anything else and I think that Obama’s got it.”

For all the sign-waving enthusiasm, for all the applause and accolades, for all the celebrity buzz that Mr. Obama seemed to stir, several people in the crowd said they were still making up their minds.

“I just want to hear what Barack’s all about,” said Kamali Thornell, 33, who brought his fiancée and his 68-year-old uncle to find out, here on an unusually warm fall night.


"Romney slip: another Osama-Obama mix-up"

In a slip of the tongue, Republican Mitt Romney accused Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama of urging terrorists to congregate in Iraq.

In the midst of criticizing Obama and other Democrats on foreign and economic policy Tuesday, the GOP presidential hopeful said:
"Actually, just look at what Osam — Barack Obama — said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. ... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded."

Romney apparently was referring to an audiotape aired Monday in which a speaker believed to be terrorist Osama bin Laden called for insurgents in Iraq to unite and avoid divisions. The authenticity of the tape aired on Al-Jazeera television could not be immediately confirmed.

Romney also said: "It's my personal belief that having someone like John Edwards, a senator, who goes out and communicates that there is no global war on terror — that it's just a Bush bumper sticker — I think that is a position that is not consistent with the facts."

Romney was addressing a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Spokesman Kevin Madden said: "He misspoke. He was referring to the audiotape of Osama bin Laden and misspoke. It was just a mix-up."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "Apparently, Mitt Romney can switch names just as casually as he switches positions, but what's wrongheaded is continuing a misguided war in Iraq that has left America less safe."
Howie P.S.: No worries for Mitt, another blow-dried airhead made the same mistake on "30 Rock" ((00:59) video , h/t to Ben Smith).


"Obama mails back"

Ben Smith:
The argument over the Kyl-Lieberman amendment has spilled from the political blogs and Sunday shows and editorial pages to a place that actually matters -- Iowa mailboxes.

Obama released a piece this morning -- here's Mike Allen's story on it -- that assumes the same interest and familiarity with the issue that must have prompted Hillary to mail her defensive piece over the weekend.

In it, he doesn't mention Clinton, but notes that "other Democrats voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment." (The fact that he can't say he voted against it is a soft spot he doesn't need.) And it casts the amendment as a replay of the October 2002 Iraq vote, and a possible excuse for Bush to go to war with Iran.

Howie P.S.: The NY Times political blog The Caucus joins the fray with Can Obama Make Iran Clinton’s New Iraq?""


"Obama Strongly Denounces Antigay Gospel Singer"

TPM's Election Central:
Barack Obama issues a strongly worded statement denouncing gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, whose planned appearance at an Obama gospel campaign event is getting denounced over his stridently antigay views:
"I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.

I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division."

But the question remains, Will he still be doing the event?
Howie P.S.: As has been noted elsewhere, McClurkin has also performed for the Clintons and Oprah.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Obama's New Ad: "Change We Can Believe In" (video)

TPM's Election Central, video (00:30):
Barack Obama is up with a new ad in New Hampshire -- his third in the state -- that continues making the case against Hillary as bound up in conventional thinking about foreign policy and makes the case for himself as the race's only true change agent.

"When we break out of the conventional thinking and we start reaching out to friend and foe alike, then I am absolutely convinced that we can restore America's leadership in the world," Obama says to a roomful of nodding voters. Hillary is also in favor of negotiating with leaders of hostile nations, though the two differ on the question of whether a President should commit to personally meeting with them without preconditions.


Sunday, October 21, 2007


wncforobama, video (01:42):
Oct. 19th, 2007
Two Signs.
Two Volunteers.
Two Hours.
One busy corner in downtown Asheville, NC


" Family pictures give rare glimpse into Obama's life"

NY Daily News:
These pictures, freshly released by Barack Obama's campaign, show some of the poignant chapters in the life of the presidential candidate.

The undated photo of Obama and his father captures the only time the two met.
His father, also Barack Obama, left to study at Harvard when Obama was 2 and only returned once. The Illinois senator wrote movingly in his memoir of the visit, remembering the African records they danced to and the gift of a basketball.

In another photo, Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, is also seen with the candidate's father. They divorced and Obama's mother remarried and moved to Indonesia before settling in Hawaii.

A smiling Obama is pictured sitting with his grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, on a park bench in New York when he was a student at Columbia University. Obama was raised by his mother and his grandparents in Hawaii.

After Columbia, Obama went to Harvard Law School, where he met another Harvard Law graduate, Michelle Robinson, who became his wife and mother of their two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Howie P.S.: Photo gallery here.


"Obama courts Latino voters in L.A."

LA Times:
Barack Obama dived into California's most contentious policy debates Saturday at an East Los Angeles appearance where he defended immigration reform and affirmative action and criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of a measure to extend college scholarships to students in the country illegally.
"That was wrong," the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate told several hundred gathered at Garfield High School. "Instead of driving thousands of children who were on the right path into the shadows, we need to give those who play by the rules the opportunity to succeed."

Later, during a question-and-answer session, he returned to the topic, declaring that if a student had been brought to this country illegally but had been going to school "like every other American child, it is cruel and stupid for us to suddenly say to them: 'We're not going to give you college scholarships. We're not going to let you finance your college education.' "

Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1, the California Dream Act, on Oct. 13, saying that the Cal Grant financial aid program and community college fee waivers should be for legal residents, not illegal immigrant students.

Schwarzenegger's office did not respond to Obama's remarks.

On the broader topic of immigration, Obama reiterated his support for a comprehensive plan that would have tightened border security but given a pathway to citizenship for the millions already in the country illegally.

"When people say, 'Oh, send 'em all back' -- we're not sending them all back," he said. "People aren't telling the truth. We would have to use all our law enforcement resources. We couldn't go after gang bangers, we couldn't go after auto theft. We'd have to use every single law enforcement officer to go around and round up folks who are working at restaurants."

He said that he would work to diversify the nation's schools despite court rulings that have curbed affirmative action. California fought its own battle over affirmative action in 1996, with voters siding with an initiative that banned preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity in public programs.

"Diversity is not the enemy of excellence, it is the engine of excellence," he said. "I am a strong believer in diversity, and affirmative action is one tool to help achieve that."

Obama came to California behind in the polls and in statewide fundraising, both key measures of support leading up to the Feb. 5 primary. For months, he has been laboring against the strong lead of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose courtship of the state began during her husband's 1992 presidential campaign. As if to sharpen the point, the Clinton campaign let loose Friday with a memo from her pollster -- "How Hillary Will Win the West" -- that noted her strong leads among Latinos and women, who form the bulk of the state's Democratic voters.

Obama alluded to his status in the race as he urged the audience to join his campaign.

"There are a lot of people now who are saying, 'Oh, you know what? Hillary Clinton, she's so far ahead. Obama, he's nice but that's not going to happen.' Let me tell you something. First of all, when you're 46, you're black and your name is Barack Obama, you're always the underdog," he said, laughing. "So nobody expected that this would be easy."

Saturday's public event -- wedged between three private fundraisers -- was intended to give the candidate time to discuss dropout rates and the problems facing inner-city schools. Garfield High was portrayed in the movie "Stand and Deliver," which chronicled the passionate efforts of calculus teacher Jaime Escalante to inspire his students. Obama wedged a reference to the movie into his remarks, though it came out as "stand up and deliver."

Yet it was not so much education as the Iraq war and immigration that drew the most energetic responses from the invitation-only crowd of high school students, their parents and members of community organizations.

Perhaps the loudest cheer came when one woman asked whether it would be possible to hold President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "accountable for the war."

"You can applaud the fact that they are leaving; they are not on the ballot," Obama said, before adding that an impeachment "would be counterproductive" because the 2008 election is not far away.

He used the question to take a swipe at Clinton's recent vote for a resolution that labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a government-sponsored military organization, a terrorist group. Obama, who was absent but has said that he would have voted against it, has contended that it would make it easier for Bush to attack Iran.

"We've got to have leaders who are willing to say: 'Don't start another war with Iran when we're not finished [in Iraq and Afghanistan],' " he said.

In remarks that preceded the more relaxed question-and-answer session, Obama said as president he would institute an urban bank modeled after the World Bank to fund inner-city development, would press for affordable housing, and would back programs to help middle-school students improve their standing.

Noting that Latinos and African Americans have higher dropout rates, he said that the problem would expand to affect everyone as the workforce became dominated by those groups.

"How do we expect to continue to compete in the world?" he asked. "We teach our children that in America if you dream big and you work hard, you will fly. . . . We need to keep that promise to every single child in America."


"Before Y’all Start Blasting Obama for Having Donnie McClurkin Sing"

Think On These Things:
Yes, you, you, and you

Please know that Donnie McClurkin has also performed for the Clintons as well…and Oprah…and so many more people who are not anti-gay.

I have a lot more to say on this and about what those blog posts reveal, but I’ll have to write it later in the week. In the meantime, you can disagree with McClurkin on the issue as I do, but 1) Please do not throw away the black vote - the majority of whom have similar views to McClurkin, have made him the multi-award winner that he is, yet show up every election and vote Democrat and 2) Please do not be like the Democratic version of the Republicans and of Fox News with your mindlessly reactionary headlines like:

“Obama’s Anti-Gay Gospel Tour”


“Obama To Do Gospel Tour with Radical Right Singer Who Crusades Against the “Curse of Homosexuality”

Radical Right Singer? Here we go…it’s going to be a long primary, and we haven’t even gotten to dealing with the Republicans yet.

Howie P.S.: Learn more about Donnie McClurkin here.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Photo Blog: Cute Kids Campaign with Michelle Obama"

jhutson's diary on Kos:
This photo blog contains many cute -- some would say adorable -- photos of kids on the campaign trail: you have been warned.---

Senator Barack Obama's wife Michelle and their daughters Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6, were warmly received as they greeted voters at a children's fair today in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Mack's Apples -- a pick-your-own apple orchard and pumpkin patch -- hosted the family event, along with Congressman Paul Hodes (D-NH), who has endorsed Obama.

While children had their faces painted, ate slices of freshly picked Golden Delicious and Rome apples, and joined in a sing-along, parents politicked on issues of health care, education, jobs, and peace. The highlight of the event was a keynote address by Michelle, who touched on all these issues, but also offered voters some insight into her family life. She talked about her father, a blue collar worker who saved to send her to Princeton and Harvard Law. And she talked about her husband's love of family.

Michelle has said that she fell in love with Barack because of his connection with people. She said that he connected with people as an organizer on Chicago's south side, and that he became a civil rights attorney because he was interested not in making money "but in making change."

She spoke of big changes needed in this country to ensure that our children don't go to war when it can be avoided, and to make sure that our children have adequate and affordable health care, and a quality education that prepares them not only for the job market, but to be our nation's future leaders.

Many of the parents in the crowd brought their infants, toddlers, and young children. There were Obama Mamas, Dads for Obama, and Kids for Obama. One little girl carried a sign that reads, "I'm voting for Kids."

Michelle Obama told them that for her and Barack, family life comes first.

"Barack is an excellent parent," said Michelle. "He never misses a parent-teacher conference. He attends the ballet recitals and soccer games, even with the Secret Service in tow. And we will be trick-or-treating this Halloween."

While Michelle's address was well received, she really hit her stride when she stepped into the crowd and met voters face-to-face. First, her daughter Malia brought her a bottle of water.

Then Michelle patiently spoke to the voters, taking her time and spending several minutes with each one, while the press watched and waited.

Many mothers brought their daughters to meet Michelle.

She in turn introduced her younger daughter Natasha, whose nickname is Sasha.

There seemed to be a genuine connection, because many voters did not just shake her hand; they went for a hug. And Michelle warmly reciprocated, embracing a woman in a wheelchair, many mothers and daughters, and a middle school-aged boy who asked, "Can I have a hug, too?" Of course he could.

And a woman wearing a red T-shirt that said "A child is more than a test score" got a big hug, and spent five minutes talking with the candidate's wife.

There was no rope line and no sense of hurry. For over an hour, Michelle talked with parents and grandparents. She also greeted children, and got down on their level with them. She has a friendly, personal touch that really connects with voters on an emotional level. It would be easy to imagine Michelle Obama not just as First Lady, but as our nation's First Mom.

And there just may be enough Obama Mamas and Papas to make that happen.

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"Obama vs. the anger mongers"

Chicago Tribune:
Though this is the time to voice his discontent, the contender is content to not heat up the hustings--TIPTON, IOWA—Barack Obama has been campaigning since early this morning, and as he addresses his last audience of the day, he professes some strong emotions about the distance many Americans feel from their government. "It makes me angry when folks feel they have no one working for them," he declares to some 250 people who have gathered on a Tuesday evening at the Cedar County Fairgrounds.

As he invariably does when outlining his discontent with the status quo, the Illinois senator sounds firm. He sounds sincere. What he doesn't sound is angry.
That is either the great strength or the great weakness of his campaign. American politics is chronically awash in free-floating bile, some of it genuine and some of it manufactured. So voters may prefer a candidate who can summon up visible outrage at the slightest provocation, of which this race offers many alternatives. If the venting of spleen is what Iowans want, an Obama event is not the place to find it. His gift—one of them, anyway—is to be able to disparage his foes in unequivocal terms without sounding strident or hostile.

Asked earlier in the day about the performance of the federal government after Hurricane Katrina, he noted that the hapless Michael Brown had been an official of the International Arabian Horse Association. "I know this is novel," he said in a droll tone, "but my thinking is that you oughta be an expert in emergency management to be head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

He's equally deft at reminding voters of his differences with Clinton. Obama never mentions the Iraq war without saying not only that it "should never have been waged," but also that it "should never have been authorized"—something Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards supported. He invokes Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in saying "longevity is no guarantee of good judgment," but the line applies equally well to the former first lady.

Asked by a woman in Tipton why she should vote for him over Clinton, he begins by saying, "She's a capable person, she's tough, she's smart," but ends by saying, more in sorrow than in anger, "There is a known commodity, been around a long time, Bill's there, we kind of know what we're going to get. But that's exactly the problem: We know what we're going to get. We're not going to get significant change."

His critics say that the campaign trail is no place for subtlety, and that he often comes across as overly cool and cerebral. Given that he trails Clinton by 25 points in a recent national poll, they may be right. But he is betting that in time, his aura of imperturbable calm and relaxed command will appeal to voters weary of the nonstop furies that raged under President Clinton as well as President Bush.

On actual issues, the differences among the main Democratic candidates are modest. They all want to leave Iraq expeditiously but carefully, they all have programs to expand health insurance coverage, they all promise to end Bush's abuse of civil liberties, and they all denounce tax cuts for the rich. Many of their speech lines are interchangeable.

Where they differ most is in temperament. Clinton has a well-earned reputation as arrogant, inflexible and opportunistic, and she brags about her zest for combat: "When you're attacked, you have to deck your opponents." Edwards, meanwhile, presents himself as a fierce populist crusading against powerful interests. "I've been fighting these people all my entire life," he tells audiences. "I fought them in the courtroom, and I've beat them and beat them."

Obama, by contrast, suggests that the last thing Washington needs is an infusion of pugnacity. He would rather talk about his ability to bridge partisan divides to find practical solutions. He can point to a major bill he sponsored, grudgingly signed last summer by the president, which banned gifts to members of Congress from lobbyists and mandated full reporting of campaign contributions by lobbyists who raise "bundles" of checks from many people.

For those who see politics and government as an endless barroom brawl, bipartisan efforts to solve real problems may sound like naive folly. But when Obama concludes on an upbeat note, saying that America has been "a bright and shining light, and we can be that again," the crowd gives him a standing ovation. Apparently, some people are warming to the idea of lowering our political thermostat.


"For Obama, a convenient truth: There's no sign Gore will run"

Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times):
Former Vice President Al Gore, in Chicago on Wednesday, gave no indication he wants to run for the White House again as he delivered the best stump speech I have heard in the 2008 presidential season.
Gore talked about change in its most useful context, attached to a subject -- the climate. He also, in his dismal predictions, gave reason for hope. There is a lesson here for candidates who campaign on change and hope.

"I'm Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States," he deadpanned in opening before the Economic Club of Chicago. A crowd of 2,101 people came to the Hyatt Regency to listen to Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize last Friday for sounding the alarms on the climate crisis.

"The planet has a fever," said Gore, who was introduced by new club chief William Daley, the mayoral brother who chaired Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.

Gore calls himself a "recovering politician." The Nobel Prize triggered speculation that Gore would jump into the 2008 race. There is no political intelligence to indicate that's a course Gore will take.

Earlier on Wednesday, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee told a Norwegian broadcaster, "I don't have plans to be a candidate again."

"What I am working to do," said Gore, is to "create conditions" in the United States so that a new president in 2009 "will face a new transformed political situation at home."

Gore painted a depressing picture of the catastrophic effects of global warming in a 35-minute verbal version of his Oscar-winning movie, "An Inconvenient Truth."

The North Polar ice cap is melting at a record pace, but Gore said it's not a reason to quit. "Don't give up hope. ... We can solve it."

I've been in Chicago listening to supporters of White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). They're worried that Obama's message of change and hope is too vague and cautious. They're worried that he is so consensus oriented that he is not making it clear where he draws a line.

Rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards also are chanting the change mantra. Obama does not own the word. His most ardent backers I've been talking to worry that his caution makes it hard to discern his non-negotiable moral imperatives.

"We now face common challenges worldwide," said Gore as he wove climate change into the international picture. He said he wants to use the recognition from the Nobel Prize to deliver his climate warnings "more effectively."

Said an Obama backer, "Good thing he is not running."

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"Obama well-received at ASU rally"

East Valley Tribune (AZ):
Presidential candidate Barack Obama outlined his vision of change to a crowd of nearly 6,000 enthusiastic supporters at an outdoor rally Friday at Arizona State University.
The Democrat touched on topics ranging from Iraq to energy to immigration during an appearance that was part campaign speech and part pep rally. He took several verbal jabs at President Bush; and while he didn’t call out his main Democratic rival by name, he suggested that Hillary Clinton was just another Washington insider.

“Some of my opponents in this race talk about, 'Well, you should vote for me because I know how to work the system.’ The system has not been working for us. We don’t need somebody who knows how to work the system. We need somebody who knows how to change the system,” he said.

“We don’t need somebody who knows how to play the game better. We need somebody to put an end to the game-playing,” he said.

The mostly college-aged supporters responded enthusiastically throughout the 50-minute appearance and waved signs that read “Obama Roma!” “Barack My World!” and “Oh, Mama! Vote Obama!” among other messages.

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said he is running for president because he wants to “shake things up” and give Americans a reason to vote for somebody, rather than against somebody.

“People want to sense that somehow we can still rally around a common purpose, that we can recognize ourselves as Americans and rally around a common destiny. People want to sense that we can be proud of being Americans and we can get things done again,” he said.

On the Iraq war, Obama said he hopes President Bush will withdraw U.S. troops before the end of his presidency.

“We can’t wait 15 months, because too many of our young men and women are dying. We can’t wait 15 months, because we’re spending $10 billion to $12 billion every single month that could be spent on college scholarships, that could be spent on health care, that could be spent on infrastructure, that could be spent on clean energy,” Obama said, his voice rising.

If the war has not been brought to a close by the time Obama would be sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2009, he said the first order of business will be to call in the joint chiefs of staff and direct them on a new mission to start bringing troops home and increase diplomacy.

He said that as president, he would meet with leaders of both friendly and enemy states. “JFK once said that you should never negotiate out of fear. Well, we should never fear to negotiate.”

On health care, Obama said the current system is broken and unacceptable.

“That is why, as president of the United States, we are going to provide health care to every single American that is as good as the health care that I receive as a member of Congress,” he said.

Furthermore, his Congress-class health care system will be in place by the end of his first term as president, he said.

He offered no further details nor specified how such a system would be financed.

On education, he pledged to close what he termed the “achievement gap” by recruiting an entire army of new teachers with higher pay and better training.

He also vowed to make college more affordable, by making grants and student loans more available.

On energy, Obama said he would mandate increased fuel efficiency for cars in an effort to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“If we had cars getting 40 miles per gallon, we would save the equivalent of all the oil we import from the Persian Gulf,” he said, adding that such a move would improve the country’s standing on both foreign policy and environmental issues.

On immigration, he advocated securing the country’s borders and providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already living and working in the United States. “We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants — and those two things are not contradictory,” he said.

Obama said he senses a national mood for change, judging by the crowds of supporters who have attended his rallies across the nation in recent weeks.

Graduate student Farryl Bertmann, 32, of Mesa, said she came to the Obama rally as a Clinton supporter.

“Now I’m 100 percent behind him. So many things he said resonated with me,” she said.

Bertmann was impressed with Obama’s personal touch. After his speech while he worked the crowd shaking hands, he wished the expectant mother good luck with her baby.

“That he noticed that I’m pregnant among all these people, and he looked me right in the eye, how often does that happen?” she asked.

Scottsdale Chaparral High School student Romy Shane, 17, noted that she’ll be old enough to vote in March, eight months before the presidential election. She was impressed with Obama’s speech. “I really enjoyed it. He has lots of energy and is really positive,” she said.

A few students told reporters they were prevented from bringing signs supporting the Republican candidate Ron Paul into the main rally area, though their hand-held signs clearly were visible in an overflow area where nearly 2,000 people watched the speech.

Afterward, aerospace engineering sophomore Travis Sarver, 19, of Queen Creek, a Paul supporter, credited Obama for being a powerful speaker, but noted that Obama never described how he would pay for many of his plans.

Following the rally, Obama appeared at a fund-raiser at a Phoenix hotel. Information about the amount raised at the event was not immediately available.