Monday, April 30, 2007

Barack Obama's speech to the California Democratic Convention

From this past Saturday.
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National Poll: Obama 32% Clinton 30%

From Rasmussen, April 30, 2007:

For the first time in the Election 2008 season, somebody other than New York Senator Hillary Clinton is on top in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows Illinois Senator Barack Obama with a statistically insignificant two point advantage over the former First Lady. It’s Obama 32% Clinton 30%. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards remains in third with support holding steady at 17%. No other candidate tops 3%. The survey was conducted April 23-26, 2007 meaning that the overwhelming majority of the interviews were completed before last Thursday’s debate in South Carolina. The impact of the debate will be measured in polling conducted this week.

Following a surprisingly strong fundraising report released at the end of March, Obama steadily gained ground during April. The last Rasmussen Reports poll released in March found Clinton enjoying a dozen-point lead. Since then, Clinton’s support has fallen seven percentage points while Obama’s total has increased the same amount. Obama now leads among voters under 40. Clinton is strongest among those 65 and older. Clinton has a two-point edge among Democrats. Obama has a nineteen-point lead among independents likely to vote in a Democratic primary.

Last week, the two top candidates were tied at 32%. Two weeks ago, Clinton had a two-point lead. Three weeks ago, it was Clinton by five. The week before that, the former First Lady was up by seven.

A separate surveyfound that Clinton is seen as politically liberal by 52% of American voters. Forty-four percent (44%) say the same about Obama while 39% see Edwards as politically liberal. Perceptions of Clinton’s ideology have shifted a bit closer to the political center in recent months. Obama has moved in the opposite direction—more to the left.

However, while Clinton is seen as being somewhat to the left of Obama among all voters, that is not the case among Democrats. Democrats tend to view most of their leading candidates as politically moderate. Perceptions among Democrats of Clinton and Obama are very similar.

Obama and Clinton are the frontrunners, but Edwards does best in general election match-ups. He leads all GOP hopefuls and is the only Democrat to lead the Republican frontrunner, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (see match-ups and favorability ratings for all Democratic candidates.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Obama stays on top of his game

From the Freeport, IL Journal-Standard:

The issue: The presidential campaign and Barack Obama

Our view: The junior senator's continued fund raising success and national popularity bodes well for Illinois

It's early. Too early for most people. Yet the genuine excitement and fund raising success achieved by Barack Obama since he announced his presidential intentions has raised a few eyebrows among Democratic Party insiders.

The tide of momentum is beginning to flow toward the Clinton campaign this week, after Hillary stood tall during the recent candidate debate in South Carolina.

It's part of the ebb and flow of a race that will carry on and pick up its pace the closer it gets to the primaries very early next year. Most certainly there will be candidate gaffes, controversies, and the spotlight will get shared by all seven of the Democratic hopefuls.

While Mr. Obama did little to distinguish himself at the debate and some would argue the event exposed his inexperience, the real story remains the tale of the accounting tape and his recent success in consolidating support among national black political leaders.

Clinton insiders are on record as being surprised and upset that the junior senator from Illinois has raised over $3 million in New York, Hillary's home state.

And, word on the West Coast puts the “Hollywood Factor,” squarely in Barack's corner, again with substantial financial contributions from significant king makers who contribute to the Democratic Party.

Beyond the financial evidence, it is Mr. Obama's clear message of hope and a need for a change in direction that is capturing audiences and keeping his name at the forefront of the race.

As the campaign unfolds, calls for details on his platform of ideas will distinguish some of his sustainability.

As it will for all of the candidates.

Yet at this juncture, with the beauty contest of candidates almost at its end and the contribution tallies at a point where several of the hopefuls will have to decide whether to stay in the race, Mr. Obama remains a strong contender with plenty of support for the Oval Office.

That is a prospect that bodes well for Freeport and Illinois.

Election of yet another president from this state, following in the footsteps of Lincoln and respecting the heritage of Grant, offers an important and unique opportunity for Illinois.

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Is Obama a JFK protege?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Obama speaks to the Chicago Council for Global Affairs

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Obama speaks to 10,000 in Iowa for Earth Day

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Obama pulls even with Hillary

From Reuters News Service:

WASHINGTON: On the heels of a burst of successful fund-raising, Democratic 2008 presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama has pulled even with frontrunner Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a new poll released on Monday found.

Obama, a firs-term senator from Illinois, has steadily gained on Clinton, a veteran on the national political scene, over the last month and each now polled 32% among likely Democratic voters, the survey by Rasmussen Reports found. Former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina was third in the poll with 17%.

In late March, New York’s Clinton held a 12-point lead over Illinois’ Obama in the Rasmussen poll.

The survey was the latest sign the former first lady, who now represents New York in the Senate, will have a tough fight ahead to win the Democratic nomination. Obama, who has served two years in the US Senate, earlier this month revealed he raised $25.8 million in the first quarter of 2007, nearly matching the $26 million she raised.

In Chicago on Monday, Obama outlined a foreign policy agenda he said would double US foreign aid to improve living conditions around the world and reduce the appeal of terrorism.

Obama also said the 2008 election will give the US a chance to change the world’s view of America.
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Obama: Bush Falls Short As World Leader

By Deanna Bellandi for the Associated Press:

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said Monday that President Bush has fallen short of his role as leader of the free world, and the 2008 election is a chance to change that.

"This president may occupy the White House, but for the last six years the position of leader of the free world has remained open. And it's time to fill that role once more," Obama said, according to excerpts of his speech prepared for delivery to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The Illinois senator was in his hometown to deliver a foreign policy address that was rescheduled last week after the shootings at Virginia Tech.

In his remarks, Obama said the world is disappointed in America.

"The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us. We must meet those expectations again, not because being respected is an end in itself, but because the security of America and the wider world demands it," according to the speech.

Monday's speech is the third time in recent months that Obama has come home to deliver a foreign policy address.

In a March speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a bipartisan pro-Israel lobby, Obama blamed Bush administration failings in Iraq for strengthening the strategic position of Iran. He called for a reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq, during a November address before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Obama speaks at Boston University

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Obama draws 20,000 in Atlanta, GA

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Obama addresses question of experience

By Beth Fouhy for the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) Wooing black voters while tackling questions about his experience, Democrat Barack Obama said Saturday that his years as a community organizer and accomplishments in the Illinois state Senate have prepared him well for the presidency.

Addressing the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, Obama touted his successes as an Illinois lawmaker in providing health insurance to children and reducing the price of prescription drugs for senior citizens.

He also told of passing legislation to monitor racial profiling and to require that police interrogations of suspects in capital cases be videotaped.

"I haven't just talked about these things, I've actually done them," he said, adding that he'd worked well with the Republicans who controlled the state Senate for most of his tenure there.

With just over two years in the U.S. Senate, Obama has faced questions over whether he has sufficient experience to be president.

On the campaign trail, front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton stresses her long career in public life and often warns voters that the next president will need to "hit the ground running."

Sharpton, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004, has also openly questioned Obama's credentials for the job. Obama, running to be the first black president, acknowledged those concerns. He also assured the largely black audience he did not believe he was automatically entitled to their support.

"I've said to Rev. Sharpton and I'll say it today, if there is somebody - I don't care whether they are white or black or they are male or female - if there is somebody who has been more on the forefront on behalf of the issues you care about and has more concrete accomplishments on behalf of the things you're concerned about, I'm happy to see you endorse them. But I am absolutely confident you will not find that," he said.

With black voters a key part of the Democratic party base, the four-day NAN convention has attracted nearly all the 2008 Democratic contenders, as well as former President Bill Clinton and DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd had been expected to speak but scheduling problems forced him to cancel.

A spokeswoman said Sharpton was not expected to endorse a candidate soon.

Hillary Clinton, who spoke Friday, won several standing ovations from the audience.

Obama, who also addressed an enthusiastic, overflow crowd, tailored his remarks to the urban issues Sharpton has championed.

He spoke of the need for fathers to step up to their responsibilities and the importance of helping ex-convicts escape an "economic death sentence" by securing jobs for them when they leave prison.

While he stumbled occasionally - calling Sharpton's organization the "Urban Action Network" several times before the audience corrected him - he also drew some unexpected laughs.

Early in Obama's speech, he stopped briefly as a cell phone on the podium began to buzz loudly.

"There's something humming down here. Is that Hillary calling?" Obama asked, to an explosion of laughter and cheers.

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Michele Obama speaks at a gathering of Women for Obama

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Editorial cartoons featuring Barack Obama

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Obama hears tearful plea to end Iraq war

By Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer:

NASHUA, N.H. --A woman's tearful plea to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to end the Iraq war momentarily caught him off guard Friday at a New Hampshire town hall meeting.

The Illinois senator vowed to end the unpopular conflict if elected, a position that later earned him thunderous applause during a 5,800-person rally in Boston.

Obama fielded questions about health care, gun control and energy during a midday appearance before some 200 people at a Nashua senior center. The residents politely applauded, and then Jean Serino of Hudson told the candidate her nephew was heading to Iraq to serve.

"I can't breathe," she said, her voice breaking with sobs. "I want to know, when am I going to be able to breathe? Are you going to get us the hell out of there? Promise us you will get us out of there. That's the most important thing."

The crowd's applause as she finished gave Obama time to compose an answer.

"I can only imagine how you feel, as a father and as a parent," he said. "I don't go to a single town-hall meeting where I don't meet a mother or father who either is seeing a loved one go over there or has already lost someone, or has a loved one who has come back injured.

"So I make a solemn pledge to you, as president we will be out of Iraq," Obama said to loud applause.

Democratic presidential contenders have repeatedly faced questions from voters about the four-year-old war during stops in New Hampshire. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has dealt with pointed questions about why she won't apologize for her 2002 vote authorizing President Bush to use military force to oust Saddam Hussein.

A recent poll showed that ending the war is the top priority for New Hampshire voters when considering presidential candidates.

Obama reiterated his plan to remove troops by March 31, 2008, similar to a plan passed by Congress that President Bush has vowed to veto.

Democrats don't have enough votes to override the veto. Without mentioning them by name, Obama criticized New Hampshire Sens. Judd Gregg and John Sununu, both Republicans who voted against the troop withdrawal deadline.

"There are two New Hampshire senators who have not made a commitment," he said, "and the power is in their hands."

Obama also reiterated his criticism of the system for background checks for gun purchases after the massacre at Virginia Tech.

"We're still selling handguns to crazy people," Obama said. "We're supposed to have a system that these people are screened out. What's clear is the background check system in this case failed entirely."

Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman who shot 32 people at Virginia Tech on Monday before killing himself, had a history of mental health problems but still was able to buy two guns.

At a campaign rally at Boston University on Friday night, Obama challenged a sold-out crowd to abandon doubt and get involved in the campaign.

"Too much is at stake not to overcome that cynicism," he told a rowdy crowd of mostly college students who donated $23 to attend the New England campaign launch. "If all of you decide this is your campaign and not my campaign, this cannot be stopped."
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Spirit of Barack Obama

I'd like to introduce The Spirit of Barack Obama:

An ongoing categorized collection of audio, articles and videos, the specialized Barack Obama search engine BOogle , an automated news service from many sources, a recalculation of election polls and links approved by the authoritative Open Directory Project.

Take a look.

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Poll shows youth-vote boost favoring Obama, Giuliani in presidential race

By Aaron Blake for The

Presidential hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) lead their respective parties’ fields in the youth vote, according to a survey by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. And some observers and advocates say it’s a growing advantage for both of them.

The youth vote, often a source of frustration to those who seek to increase turnout among young people, is shaping up to be a key demographic, with its size and participation levels on the upswing. Just about every campaign is targeting youth, often through new media, and some campaigns are hiring youth-oriented teams of staffers.

Turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds grew by nearly one-third between 2000 and 2004, from 36 percent to 47 percent. And 2006 saw significant youth-vote gains for a midterm election as well.

The high point of the last 30 years came in 1992, when 48.6 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 52 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted. Those numbers appear to be within reach for the 2008 cycle.

The statistics pale when compared to turnout numbers for older segments of the population, which vote at a rate of about two-thirds in presidential years. Skeptics note that older voters will be a more dependable voting group throughout the foreseeable future.

Still, turnout among young voters is growing faster than it has among older voters in recent years, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at the University of Maryland. What’s more, the Harvard poll notes that 40 percent of young people align with neither major party, meaning there are plenty of votes to be won.

“The level of interest that we’re seeing from presidential campaigns is unprecedented,” said Kathleen Barr, research and media director of the Youth Voter Strategies project at The George Washington University. “We didn’t see interest this early in ’04, and definitely not in ’06. And the sheer size of the young adult population indicates it’s likely to make a major impact.”

According to the Harvard survey, which was conducted online with nearly 3,000 18- to 24-year-olds participating, Obama and Giuliani are the early beneficiaries.

Obama leads with 35 percent among 18- to 24-year-old voters who likely will vote Democratic in 2008, followed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) at 28 percent and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) at 9 percent. The top two spots are flipped in polls of the general population, with Clinton holding a lead over Obama.

On the Republican side, the youth vote reflects the general population. Giuliani has the support of 31 percent, while Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) is second with 18 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is third with 8 percent.
Prospective candidates who have polled high but are not in the race — including former Vice President Al Gore (D), former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) — were not included in the poll.

Approaches to youth voting and participation vary, though most campaigns have employed some new-media strategy geared toward young people, especially on social-networking websites. Former Rock the Vote organizer Hans Riemer is leading Obama’s youth-vote operation with one deputy. Romney offered students a commission on money raised for his campaign.

The Harvard study reports that 42 percent of respondents said that they definitely will vote in a primary or caucus, and 61 percent said they definitely will vote in the general election.

Intend-to-vote figures tend to be higher than actual voting figures, but a recent Pew Research Center study showed significant increases in political and national-affairs awareness among young people in the last eight years.
Most numbers in the Harvard poll were markedly similar between college-educated young voters and those who did not attend college.

The most pressing foreign-policy issue for young voters was stabilizing Iraq (24 percent), but “dealing with the genocide in Darfur” came in a surprising second at 17 percent, above “fighting the war on terrorism” and addressing issues in China, Iran and North Korea. Among the general population, Darfur polls at about 5 percent.

The polling director at the Institute of Politics, John Della Volpe, said candidates would be wise to address Darfur and pointed out that there are now more voters younger than 30 than 65 and older.

“This is the first election, frankly, where most presidential campaigns are taking this vote seriously,” Della Volpe said.
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Professors Shower Cash on Obama

By Paras D. Bhayani for the Harvard Crimson:

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama received more than half of the political contributions made by Harvard professors and staff in the first quarter of 2007, according to an analysis of federal disclosure data released Monday.

The $78,000 that the Illinois senator raised from Harvard affiliates underscores the depth of support the former Harvard Law Review president and University of Chicago law lecturer enjoys among Harvard professors.

Obama’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, took in less than half of Obama’s Harvard total, raising over $33,000 from University affiliates. The other major recipient of Harvard money was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, who raised nearly $23,000.

In total, Harvard employees donated just over $150,000 to 2008 presidential candidates in the first quarter of this year, according to federal election data available on the Web site of The New York Times. Only donors who registered their Harvard affiliation with their contributions were picked up by the database search.

Compared to Obama, Clinton, and Romney—who were also the top national fundraisers for the quarter—the other candidates received only small sums from Harvard donors.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, took in $6,700 and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, a Democrat, raised $4,400.

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has lagged significantly behind the other major candidates in overall fundraising, did not receive any donations from Harvard employees.

Professors at Harvard Law School, where Obama received his law degree in 1991, were the primary source of the senator’s funds. Much of his take came from a high-dollar fundraiser last month at the Cambridge home of Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law David B. Wilkins ’77.

Both Wilkins and his wife gave Obama $2,300, the maximum contribution allowed for the primary, as did Loeb University Professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62 and his wife, who both helped organize the event. Smith Professor of Law Martha L. Minow donated $4,600, half of which is reserved for the general election and can only be spent if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

One of the more surprising $2,300 contributions to Obama came from Anne Gergen. She is the wife of Kennedy School Professor of Public Service David R. Gergen, who has been an adviser to four presidents—including Bill Clinton. Professor Gergen did not respond to requests for comment on whether he too is supporting Obama.

Support for Clinton was diffused throughout the University. Arthur I. Segel ’73, a professor at the Business School, and Shauna L. Shames ’01, a Ph.D. candidate in the government department, both donated $4,600 to Clinton, while Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz gave $1,000.

Though Romney, like Obama, is an alumnus of the Law School, his support ran deeper at his other alma matter, Harvard Business School.

The Business School’s Michael E. Porter, the Lawrence university professor, gave $2,300 to Romney. Porter is the co-founder of the Monitor Group, a Cambridge-based consulting firm, while Romney formerly led Boston-based consulting firm Bain & Company.

Romney also received $2,300 from Cizik Professor of Business Administration Clayton M. Christensen, a fellow Mormon. Romney has raised significant funds in the Mormon community, taking in $2.9 million from Utah—a state that is 60 percent Mormon and not usually considered a top source of political dollars.
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Liberal activists: Obama, Edwards best to lead U.S. out of Iraq

From the Associated Press:

Barack Obama and John Edwards are the Democratic presidential candidates who offer the best hope for leading the country out of Iraq, according to an unscientific straw vote of liberal activists.

Obama, an Illinois senator, got 28 percent of the 42,882 votes from's 3.2 million members in an online survey. He closely edged out Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and the 2004 vice presidential nominee, with 25 percent.

The vote was conducted after's virtual candidate forum Tuesday night in which seven of the eight Democratic candidates answered questions about Iraq and had their answers aired online and on Air America Radio.

The straw vote cannot be considered representative of all of's membership because participants weren't selected randomly.

Of those who listened to the responses at parties across the country, Edwards was the favorite with 25 percent of the vote, followed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson with 21 percent. Obama came in third at 19 percent.

Front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York did not fair well among the left wing of her party, with just 11 percent support overall.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Obama health care forum in Iowa


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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Natural

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Obama Raises $25 Million, Almost Matching Clinton

By Kristin Jensen and Jay Newton-Small for Bloomberg:

April 4 (Bloomberg) - Illinois Senator Barack Obama raised at least $25 million in the first quarter of his presidential campaign, just below the total of Democratic rival and top fundraiser Hillary Clinton.

Clinton, a New York senator, reported on April 1 that she raised $26 million and added another $10 million from her Senate campaign account. Clinton had previously proven herself one of the best fundraisers in the country, bringing in $51 million for her 2006 re-election campaign that had no real competition.

Obama's announcement today helps fortify his position in the top tier of candidates behind Clinton, who leads in public opinion polls. The third-place contender, former vice presidential nominee John Edwards, raised $14 million in the period.

``The amount of money puts Obama on the Hillary level,'' said Stephen Wayne, a government professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

The reports offer the first glimpse of the so-called ``money primary'' in the race for a presidential nomination. While the candidates who raise the most don't always win, a show of strength in fundraising can offer a needed boost.

Obama's campaign emphasized the number of donors as evidence of widespread support. The political newcomer, who won his first race for federal office in 2004, received contributions from more than 100,000 people, his campaign said. Clinton, 59, reported receiving donations from 50,000 people.

`Overwhelming Response'

``The overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country,'' said Penny Pritzker, Obama's finance chair, in an e- mailed statement today.

Obama, 45, raised about $6.9 million on the Internet from more than 50,000 donors, his campaign said. That compares with $4.2 million for Clinton.

Obama focused more on small-donor fundraisers. In Oklahoma last month, Obama took time out between two high-dollar events to speak to 1,100 people at a farmer's market who paid just $25 a head. The day before, Clinton addressed a group including business executives and movie stars who paid as much as $4,600 to see her in Manhattan's Sheraton New York ballroom.

``We are thrilled with our historic fundraising success and congratulate Senator Obama and the entire Democratic field on their fundraising,'' said Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's campaign manager, in a statement released by the campaign. The totals demonstrate ``the overwhelming desire for change in our country,'' she said.

$77 Million

With Obama's donations, the Democratic candidates for president have tallied up at least $77 million in contributions so far this year. That compares with about $52 million for the Republicans, who are struggling with the sliding approval rating of their party's president, George W. Bush.

Obama also reported that his total included at least $23.5 million for the primary election. This is the first modern campaign in which all the major Democratic candidates are raising money for both the primary and the general election instead of relying on public financing.

A candidate can only use funds raised for the general campaign if he or she wins the party nomination, and Clinton hasn't disclosed how much of her $26 million is intended for the general election. Edwards said such contributions made up only $1 million of his $14 million total.

No Worries

Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said in an interview yesterday that the campaign would probably know the breakdown of primary and general funds this week. He said the ``vast majority'' of Clinton's $26 million came from donations for the primary campaign.

``Nobody should go to bed at night worried that Hillary will not have the resources that she needs to run an effective primary campaign,'' McAuliffe said.

Obama was the last major candidate to give an estimate for the first-quarter figures. All the candidates must file reports to the Federal Election Commission by April 15 with details on their contributions and spending.

On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney led the pack by raising $21 million. One-time frontrunner John McCain, an Arizona senator, raised just $12.5 million, trailing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who brought in $15 million in the period.
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Obama's response to George W. Bush threatened veto

Today, Sen. Obama made the following statement about the war in Iraq.

"The American people and their Congress have said repeatedly that they will no longer accept a war without end in Iraq. If the President chooses to ignore the people’s will and play politics with the funding for our troops, Democrats and Republicans will continue to ratchet up the pressure on this Administration to change course in Iraq and bring this war to a responsible end, and I will continue to fight for my plan that would begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq with the goal of bringing all combat troops home by March 31st, 2008."
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