Thursday, May 31, 2007

Obama upbeat about Nevada prospects

By Brendan Riley for the Associated Press:

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Thursday shrugged off rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's support in Nevada, arguing that he'll enjoy the same success in attracting the state's rural voters as he did back home in Illinois.

The first-term senator also had kind words for one of Nevada's top industries - gambling.

Nevada "has done a terrific job of regulating the industry. It has become a major growth engine, and I think other people from other states - including my mother-in-law - love to come here," Obama said in a brief interview with The Associated Press.

The candidate met with state lawmakers and campaigned in Nevada, which is second in the primary calendar lineup with caucuses on Jan. 19. He answered a few questions as he greeted patrons at the Comma Coffee shop, located across from the state legislature.

Obama said that while other candidates such as Clinton have more early endorsements in the state, he will catch up with grass-roots support.

"One of the reasons I'm a U.S. senator is that I got strong support from places like southern Illinois where it's about as rural and southern as you get," Obama said. "These are areas back in my home state that are pro-gun, very religious and with low minority populations - and we have consistently done well because I think there is a set of common values that people share."

In his 2004 race against conservative commentator Alan Keyes, an out-of-stater drafted by Illinois Republicans to run after their primary winner dropped out amid a sex scandal, Obama got 70 percent of the vote. He trounced Keyes in all parts of the state - urban, suburban and rural.

Obama added: "If people feel you're respectful and taking the time to talk to them, if you care about the things they care about, then you can do well regardless of what your background is."

Coinciding with her trip to Nevada on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled a list of supporters in Nevada, including former Gov. Bob Miller and black community leaders.

Obama said he wasn't concerned about her endorsements.

"We're still getting known in Nevada. This is my third visit," Obama said. "So it's not surprising that Senator Clinton ... is able to get some of the traditional endorsements."

"We're much more interested in making sure we're reaching out to the ordinary voters like this," he said, referring to the crowd of about 50 in the coffee shop.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Barack Obama introduces his health care plan

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Zogby: Obama Beats 'Rudy McRomney'


Democrat Barack Obama would defeat any of the three Republican front-runners - Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney - in a head-to-head presidential election, but McCain and Giuliani would outpoll Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, a surprising new poll reveals.

NewsMax has obtained in advance the results of the poll by Zogby International (, which will release the results later Wednesday night.

Zogby polled nearly 1,000 likely voters – 377 Democrats, 357 Republicans and 258 Independents.

The 2008 GOP front-runners, sometimes referred to by political wags as "Rudy McRomney," showed mixed results in the Zogby poll.

Asked whom they would vote for if the race was between John McCain and Hillary Clinton, 46.6 percent chose McCain and 42.9 percent named Clinton, with the remainder selecting "someone else” or "will not vote.”

McCain also beat out John Edwards by a margin of 46 percent to 41.2 percent.

But when matched against Obama, the Senator from Illinois out polled McCain, 45.6 percent to 43.2 percent.

Giuliani also beat Clinton, 48.1 percent to 43.1 percent, and Edwards, 46.7 percent to 43.3 percent. But matched against Obama, Giuliani trailed with 42.2 percent of the vote compared to 48.1 percent for Obama.

In a head-to-head race with Romney, Clinton won by about 7 percentage points, while Obama and Edwards both beat Romney by about 15 points.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, who has not announced his candidacy, actually drew slightly more votes than did Romney when matched against Clinton, Obama and Edwards.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Obama Leads Four Republicans in U.S. Race

Democrat Barack Obama is the top 2008 presidential contender in the United States, according to a poll by Zogby International. At least 46 per cent of respondents would support the Illinois senator in head-to-head contests against four prospective Republican nominees.

Obama holds a three-point edge over Arizona senator John McCain, a six-point lead over former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and a 17-point advantage over both former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and actor and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson.

In other contests, both New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former North Carolina senator John Edwards lead Romney and Thompson, but trail Giuliani and McCain. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is virtually tied with Thompson, leads Romney by three points, and trails Giuliani and McCain.

On May 27, Obama pledged to provide proper assistance for active duty soldiers, declaring, "We’re falling far short in addressing the mental health care needs of these heroes, and that’s inexcusable. I believe strongly that there is a sacred trust between this country and those who serve it. That trust begins the moment a service member signs on and lasts the duration of his or her life."

In American elections, candidates require 270 votes in the Electoral College to win the White House. In November 2004, Republican George W. Bush earned a second term after securing 286 electoral votes from 31 states. Democratic nominee John Kerry received 252 electoral votes from 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Bush is ineligible for a third term in office. The next presidential election is scheduled for November 2008.

Polling Data

Possible match-ups - 2008 U.S. presidential election

Rudy Giuliani (R) 42% - 48% Barack Obama (D)
John McCain (R) 43% - 46% Barack Obama (D)
Mitt Romney (R) 35% - 52% Barack Obama (D)
Fred Thompson (R) 35% - 52% Barack Obama (D)

Rudy Giuliani (R) 48% - 43% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
John McCain (R) 47% - 43% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
Mitt Romney (R) 40% - 48% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
Fred Thompson (R) 41% - 48% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)

Rudy Giuliani (R) 47% - 43% John Edwards (D)
John McCain (R) 46% - 41% John Edwards (D)
Mitt Romney (R) 36% - 50% John Edwards (D)
Fred Thompson (R) 40% - 48% John Edwards (D)

Rudy Giuliani (R) 50% - 35% Bill Richardson (D)
John McCain (R) 52% - 31% Bill Richardson (D)
Mitt Romney (R) 37% - 40% Bill Richardson (D)
Fred Thompson (R) 40% - 39% Bill Richardson (D)

Source: Zogby International
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 993 likely American voters, conducted from May 17 to May 20, 2007. Margin of error is 3.2 per cent.


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Monday, May 28, 2007

Barack Obama: The Truth on Iraq

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

TV news says: "Paris rules, Dafur drools"

Yesterday, Sen. Barack Obama gave the commencement address at Southern New Hampshire University. My favorite line?
"We see it in a media culture that sensationalizes the trivial and trivializes the profound – in a 24-hour news network bonanza that never fails to keep us posted on how many days Paris Hilton will spend in jail but often fails to update us on the continuing genocide in Darfur or the recovery effort in New Orleans or the poverty that plagues too many American streets."

Here is the text of the address:

Good morning, President LeBlanc, the Board of Trustees, faculty, parents, family, friends, and the Class of 2007. Congratulations on your graduation, and thank you for allowing me the honor to be a part of it.

I also want to thank Southern New Hampshire University for this honorary doctor of laws degree. I ended up paying for my first law degree for years and years, so for all of you with visions of law school, I’d consider running for President and then waiting for a commencement invite instead – it’s much cheaper.

There is a verse from the Bible that is sometimes read or recited during rites of passage like this. Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.”

I bring this up because there’s often an assumption on days like today that growing up is purely a function of age; that becoming an adult is an inevitable progression that can be measured by a series of milestones – college graduation or your first job or the first time you throw a party that actually has food too.

And yet, maturity does not come from any one occasion – it emerges as a quality of character. Because the fact is, I know a whole lot of thirty and forty and fifty year olds who have not yet put away childish things – who continually struggle to rise above the selfish or the petty or the small.

We see this reflected in our country today.

We see it in a politics that’s become more concerned about who’s up and who’s down than who’s working to solve the real challenges facing our generation; a politics where debates over war and peace are reduced to 60-second soundbites and 30-second attack ads.

We see it in a media culture that sensationalizes the trivial and trivializes the profound – in a 24-hour news network bonanza that never fails to keep us posted on how many days Paris Hilton will spend in jail but often fails to update us on the continuing genocide in Darfur or the recovery effort in New Orleans or the poverty that plagues too many American streets.

And as we’re fed this steady diet of cynicism, it’s easy to start buying into it and put off hard decisions. We become tempted to turn inward, suspicious that change is really possible, doubtful that one person really can make a difference.

That’s where the true test of growing up occurs. That’s where you come in.

No matter where you go from here – whether it’s into public service or the business world; whether it’s law school or medical school; whether you become scientists or artists or entertainers – you will face a choice. Do you want to be passive observers of the way world is or active citizens in shaping the way the world ought to be? In both your own life and the life of your country, will you strive to put away childish things?

It is a constant struggle, this quest for maturity, and as my wife will certainly tell you, I haven’t always been on the winning side in my own life. But through my own tests and failings, I have learned a few lessons here and there about growing up, and there’s three I’d like to leave you with today.

The first lesson came during my first year in college.

Back then I had a tendency, in my mother’s words, to act a bit casual about my future. I rebelled, angry in the way that many young men in general, and young black men in particular, are angry, thinking that responsibility and hard work were old-fashioned conventions that didn’t apply to me. I partied a little too much and studied just enough to get by.

And once, after a particularly long night of partying, we had spilled a little too much beer, broke a few too many bottles, and trashed a little too much of the dorm. And the next day, the mess was so bad that when one of the cleaning ladies saw it, she began to tear up.

And when a girlfriend of mine heard about this, she said to me, “That woman could’ve been my grandmother, Barack. She spent her days cleaning up after somebody else’s mess.”

Which drove home for me the first lesson of growing up:

The world doesn’t just revolve around you.

There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit – the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steelworker, the immigrant woman cleaning your dorm room.

As you go on in life, cultivating this quality of empathy will become harder, not easier. There’s no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care. You’ll be free to live in neighborhoods with people who are exactly like yourself, and send your kids to the same schools, and narrow your concerns to what’s going in your own little circle.

Not only that – we live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principle goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained. A culture where those in power too often encourage these selfish impulses.

They will tell you that the Americans who sleep in the streets and beg for food got there because they’re all lazy or weak of spirit. That the inner-city children who are trapped in dilapidated schools can’t learn and won’t learn and so we should just give up on them entirely. That the innocent people being slaughtered and expelled from their homes half a world away are somebody else’s problem to take care of.

I hope you don’t listen to this. I hope you choose to broaden, and not contract, your ambit of concern. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all of those who helped you get to where you are, although you do have that debt.

It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. And because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential – and become full-grown.

The second lesson I learned after college, when I had this crazy idea that I wanted to be a community organizer and work in low-income neighborhoods.

My mother and grandparents thought I should go to law school. My friends had applied for jobs on Wall Street. But I went ahead and wrote letters to every organization in the country that I could think of. And finally, this small group of churches on the south side of Chicago wrote back and gave me a job organizing neighborhoods devastated by steel-plant closings in the early 80s.

The churches didn’t have much money – so they offered me a grand sum of $12,000 a year plus $1,000 to buy a car. And I got ready to move to Chicago – a place I had never been and where I didn’t know a living soul.

Even people who didn’t know me were skeptical of my decision. I remember having a conversation with an older man I had met before I arrived in Chicago. I told him about my plans, and he looked at me and said, “Let me tell something. You look like a nice clean-cut young man, and you’ve got a nice voice. So let me give you a piece of advice – forget this community organizing business. You can’t change the world, and people won’t appreciate you trying. What you should do is go into television broadcasting. I’m telling you, you’ve got a future.”

I could’ve taken my mother’s advice and I could’ve taken my grandparents advice. I could’ve taken the path my friends traveled. And objectively speaking, that older man had a point about the TV thing.

But I knew there was something in me that wanted to try for something bigger.

So the second lesson is this: Challenge yourself. Take some risks in your life.

This isn’t easy. In a few minutes, you can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and go chasing after the big house and the large salary and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy.

But I hope you don’t. Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.

So don’t let people talk you into doing what’s easy or comfortable. Listen to what’s inside of you and decide what it is that you care about so much that you’re willing to risk it all.

The third lesson is one that I learned once I got to Chicago.

I had spent weeks organizing our very first community meeting around the issue of gang violence. We invited the police; we made phone calls, went to churches, and passed out flyers.

I had been warned of the turf battles and bad politics between certain community leaders, but I ignored them, confident that I knew what I was doing.

The night of the meeting we arranged rows and rows of chairs in anticipation of the crowd. And we waited. And we waited. And finally, a group of older people walk in to the hall. And they sit down. And this little old lady raises her hand and asks, “Is this where the bingo game is?”

Thirteen people showed up that night. The police never came. And the meeting was a complete disaster.

Later, the volunteers I worked with told me they were quitting – that they had been doing this for two years and had nothing to show for it.

I was tired too. But at that point, I looked outside and saw some young boys playing in a vacant lot across the street, tossing stones at boarded-up apartment building. And I turned to the volunteers, and I asked them, “Before you quit, I want you to answer one question. What’s gonna happen to those boys? Who will fight for them if not us? Who will give them a fair shot if we leave?”

And at that moment, we were all reminded of a third lesson in growing up:


Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

After my little speech that day, one by one, the volunteers decided not to quit. We went back to those neighborhoods, and we kept at it, sustaining ourselves with the small victories. Eventually, over time, a community changed. And so had we.

Cultivating empathy, challenging yourself, persevering in the face of adversity – these are qualities that dare us to put away childish things. They are qualities that help us grow.

They are qualities that one graduate today knows especially well.

Richard Komi was born thousands of miles from here in Southern Nigeria. He’d probably still be there today, if he hadn’t been forced to flee when his tribe came under attack. Eventually, he made it to the United States, worked his way through factories and retail jobs, and came here to SNHU, to complete the education he began in Africa. And now, with a wife and kids and lots of responsibility, he’s even taking the time to give back to his new country by volunteering on this campaign.

Richard Komi may be graduating today, but it’s clear that he grew up a long time ago. We celebrate with him because his journey is a testament to the powerful idea that in the face of impossible odds, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

At a time when America finds itself at a crossroads, facing challenges we haven’t seen in decades, we need to hold on to this idea more than ever.

A lot is riding on the decisions that are made and the leadership that is provided by this generation. We are counting on you to help fix a health care system that’s leaving too many Americans sick or bankrupt or both. We are counting on you to bring this planet back from the brink by solving this crisis of global climate change. We are counting on you to help stop a genocide in Darfur that’s taking the lives of innocents as we speak here today. And we’re counting on you to restore the image of America around the world that has led so many like Richard Komi to find liberty, and opportunity, and hope on our doorstep.

There are some who are betting against you – who say that you don’t pay attention, that you don’t show up to vote, that you’re too concerned with your own lives and your own problems.

Well that’s not what I believe and it’s not what I’ve seen. Instead I’ve seen rallies filled with crowds that stretch far into the horizon; thousands upon thousands signing up to organize online; scores who are coming to the very first political event of their lifetime. And just a few hours before this commencement, I got the opportunity to send off hundreds of people who have chosen to take time out of their busy lives and spend an entire Saturday knocking on doors here in New Hampshire. Because they’re not content to sit back and watch anymore. Because they believe they can help this country grow.

And whenever the doubt creeps in and I find myself wondering if change is really possible, I end up thinking about the young Americans – teenagers and college kids not much older than you – who watched the Civil Rights Movement unfold before them on television sets all across the country.

I imagine that they would’ve seen the marchers and heard the speeches, but they also probably saw the dogs and the fire hoses, or the footage of innocent people being beaten within an inch of their lives; or heard the news the day those four little girls died when someone threw a bomb into their church.

Instinctively, they knew that it was safer and smarter to stay at home; to watch the movement from afar. But they also understood that these people in Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi were their brothers and sisters; that what was happening was wrong; and that they had an obligation to make it right. When the buses pulled up for a Freedom Ride down South, they got on. They took a risk. And they changed the world.

Now it’s your turn. You will be tested by the challenges of this new century, and at times you will fail. But know that you have it within your power to try. That generations who have come before you faced these same fears and uncertainties in their own time. And that if we’re willing to shoulder each other’s burdens, to take great risks, and to persevere through trial, America will continue its journey towards that distant horizon, and a better day.

Thank you, and congratulations on your graduation.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Obama '08 blog is six months old

It has now been more than six months since I started Obama '08. In that time I have watch Senator Barack Obama grow from a mild curiosity to a world wide phenomenon. He has gone from a "what do you think" question to a real contender for the White House. While there appears to be a lull in the campaign right now, I can see Obama coming through in the end - especially after the rest of the Democratic base starts realizing that the current leader - she who will not be named - could end up being a real liability.

I firmly believe that IF the former first lady gets the nomination, that the right wing will be overly energized to make sure she is defeated.

I still believe that Sen. Obama is our best and brightest hope for retaking the White House in 2008.
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Obama & Brownback together on another issue - this time, Iran

By Mark Memmott for USA Today:

Though they're running for the presidential nominations of competing parties, senators Sam Brownback and Barack Obama do seem to like to work together on some issues -- though Brownback this week has been more eager to publicize the fact.

Brownback, a Kansas Republican, send out a press release this afternoon to announce that he and Obama have "introduced the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, legislation that would increase economic pressure on the Iranian regime."

Indeed, S. 1430 -- the bill -- is officially listed as being "sponsored" by Obama and "co-sponsored" by Brownback.

Obama's office, though, didn't mention Brownback when it announced the bill's introduction on Wednesday. The senator's fellow Democrats on the House side -- Reps. Barney Frank and Tom Lantos -- got the mentions.

Brownback and Obama have teamed up before, though, on issues related to tragedies in the Congo and the Darfur region of Sudan.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Obama proposes college loan plan

By Laura Bernheim for the Athens, OH Post:

When Democratic presidential candidate and senator Barack Obama and his wife graduated from law school, their combined student loan debt was greater than the mortgage on their home.

It stayed that way for more than eight years.

“We were lucky because, as folks who were practicing lawyers, we could afford to service the loans,” he said in a national teleconference with student reporters. “If we had decided we had wanted to go into teaching, for example, there’s no way we could have paid them off.”

Obama confronted the problem by announcing a proposal today to eliminate private student lenders from the loan process.

“By removing private lenders from the process and requiring that all federal student loans be provided by the federal government, we’ll save billions that we can use to make college more affordable,” he said.

Obama said his plan would have saved taxpayers nationwide roughly $6 billion this year alone.

Student loans — part of an $85 billion industry, according to the Associated Press — come either directly from the federal government or through private loan companies. News reports nationwide have revealed numerous unethical and potentially illegal arrangements between private lenders and universities.

“We shouldn’t provide billions of taxpayer-funded giveaways to private banks when young people all across the country are trying to figure out how they can finance an affordable, accessible college education,” Obama said.

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has requested documentation of all deals between lenders and alumni groups at state colleges and universities. Miami University recently disclosed its alumni association’s agreement with private lender Nelnet, which OU’s Alumni Association also has an agreement with.

“We work with Nelnet because we think they’re the best at what they do — student loan consolidation,” according to the OU Alumni Association Web site.Priced out

At least 200,000 students were qualified to go to college but didn’t because of financial limitations, Obama said, citing tuition increases over the past five years of 11 percent at private universities and 35 percent at public institutions.

Tuition at OU has increased a total of about 37 percent for an Ohio-resident undergraduate student, according to OU Institutional Research data.

“This doesn’t solve all the problems of increased college costs, but by taking this one step not only can we stop unethical behavior and eliminate waste, we can start making college more affordable for every American,” he said.Generation gap

Obama said he noticed the college-aged generation taking a deeper interest in political issues and attributed it to issues such as college loans, climate change, federal debt and globalization.

“The feeling among a lot of young people is that we keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to righting these challenges,” he said. “Unless we step up now and start making some significant decisions, you guys are going to be left holding the bank.

“There are a lot of things that everyone agrees we should do. But it’s not happening because there is too much politics as usual in Washington.”

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Senator Obama leads in South Carolina

Matthew Borghese - AHN Staff Writer

Charleston, SC (AHN) - Despite her strength nationally, a new poll shows Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is running in second place against fellow Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in South Carolina.

In a poll taken by InsiderAdvantage and Majority Opinion, Senator Obama leads Democrats with 31 percent of the vote, ahead of Senator Clinton's 27 percent and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards' 16 percent.

However, there is still a lot of room to make a victory out of the first state to succeed from the Union in 1860, with a full 21 percent of voters still undecided among the Democratic field.

Within the GOP, voters prefer former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, with 22 percent. Coming in second is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, with 15 percent, even though he has yet to actually declare his candidacy for President in 2008.

Gingrich is followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 10 percent and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) with 9. Each candidate however, falls below the undecided vote, which received 26 percent; showing the Republican electors in South Carolina have yet to really examine the race.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Newark mayor Booker to back Obama

Posted by Christi Parsons at the Chicago Tribune online:

Sen. Barack Obama will pick up a significant endorsement on Monday when Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker formally announces he is supporting the Illinois Democrat in the presidential primary.

The backing of Booker, a rising African-American politician in his own right, is an early coup for Obama in the battle for the support of black leadership.

But Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is waging a formidable fight, fueled by longstanding good relations between her family and African American voters. And she already has a perceived leg-up in New Jersey, where she has the backing of Gov. Jon Corzine.

Booker is expected to make his endorsement official in Newark on Monday, shortly before Obama pays a visit to AFL-CIO leaders in Trenton. Sources familiar with the decision say Booker will play a key role in Obama's campaign in New Jersey, which will hold one of the early February presidential primaries next year.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

All American Patriots endores Obama

The web site All American Patriots web site has officially endorsed Barack Obama for president. According to a post on May 11, the site said:

May 11, 2008 -- All American Patriots officially announces it is endorsing Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for President, 2008.

In our opinion, Senator Barack Obama embodies a new vision for the United States. His intelligence, his demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of all Americans, and his profound grasp of both national and international issues make Senator Obama one of the most exciting candidates of at least the past two presidential election cycles, and place him in stark contrast to the current administration.

In addition, while we believe Senator Obama's chief rival Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton possesses many qualities that would make her a highly effective president, we believe the United States has not benefited from the imposition of political dynasties, as most starkly evidenced by the gross inadequacies and ineptitude of the George W. Bush administration. It is time for new blood in the White House.

In the current field of Republican candidates, we currently see no one who we feel possesses either the qualifications, the skill, or the vision to properly and inclusively represent all Americans, and can therefore endorse none of them.

We are delighted that our choice this election cycle comes down to a tight race between two individuals, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, either of whom, if elected, will make history in the White House by finally breaking one of two seemingly insurmountable barriers long since broken by many other Western democracies: those of gender and race. This will be a great service both to the people of the United States and to the country's international stature, which is in dire need of repair.

All American Patriots will continue to follow the 2008 presidential election with great interest, and to provide daily coverage from and about candidates across the full range of the political spectrum.

And to Senator Barack Obama: we wish you the greatest possible success on your journey.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is Obama Readying TV Ad Blitz?

From the National Journal Hotline online:

Is Sen. Barack Obama thinking about a major television ad blitz?

Democratic media buyers say that Obama’s media team asked television stations in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada about available ad time and rates.

Robert Gibbs, an Obama spokesman, said the inquiries were "routine" exercises and should not be interpreted as signaling that an actual buy is imminent. He said the media team asked about rates through the end of the year.

Obama’s media team is led by strategist David Axelrod and includes veteran Dem ad-crafter Jim Margolis. Asking about buying time does not mean that time will be bought, but campaigns are generally aware that once they talk to TV stations about purchasing time, their intentions become public.

Sen. Hillary Clinton commands handsome leads in all national polls and leads in three out of the four early primary states. The exception is Iowa, where ex-Sen, John Edwards consistently outpolls the Democratic field. Obama’s team was cheered by a recent Wall Street Journal poll question which suggested that of those Democrats paying close attention to the primary horse race, Obama had the most support.

Judging by the large crowds Obama attracts in locales as varied as Atlanta and Oakland, the excitement that greeted February entrance into the race has not abated. National and private polling shows that Obama seems to have a foothold among Democratic professionals, students, and elite activists, while Clinton does better among blue collar voters, African Americans, and women. In most Democratic primaries, Clinton’s group is larger than Obama’s group.

So far, two Democrats – Ex-Sen. John Edwards and NM Gov. Bill Richardson, and two Republicans – ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Tom Tancredo – have advertised on television and radio this cycle.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Obama addresses the National Conference of Black Mayors

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Obama Bill Helps End Gridlock Over Increased Fuel Economy Standards

May 8, 2007 -- WASHINGTON, DC – A bill sponsored by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and a bipartisan group of Senators that would increase fuel economy standards provided the basis for legislation that passed the Senate Commerce Committee today. CAFE standards have not been increased for over twenty years.

“As the threat posed by climate change becomes more and more imminent, inaction is no longer an acceptable course,” said Senator Obama. “I commend Chairman Inouye and members of the Commerce Committee for breaking the logjam and moving us closer to raising fuel economy standards. We have the technology available to implement these changes today, now we just need the willpower to pass them.”

Provisions from S. 767, the bipartisan Fuel Economy Reform Act introduced by Senators Obama, Lugar, Biden, Specter, Bingaman, and Smith, were included in the bill approved by the Commerce Committee today. The legislation requires automakers to achieve significant annual improvements in fuel economy. The legislation also authorizes the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to establish different standards for different types of cars, providing increased flexibility to automakers and leveling the playing field for the US companies that sell a broader mix of vehicles than their foreign competitors.

Senator Obama has proposed increasing fuel economy standards by 4% annually as the long-term goal. Obama has also committed to improving the health of the domestic auto industry, by providing assistance for legacy health care costs, as it produces more efficient automobiles.

“I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that NHTSA discretion is carefully defined to ensure that we achieve the maximum fuel economy possible,” added Obama. “We must also address the key transition concerns of autoworkers by sustaining existing protections and establishing retooling incentives.”

Source: Senator Barack Obama

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Republicans defect to the Obama camp

By Sarah Baxter for the London Times:

DISILLUSIONED supporters of President George W Bush are defecting to Barack Obama, the Democratic senator for Illinois, as the White House candidate with the best chance of uniting a divided nation.

Tom Bernstein went to Yale University with Bush and co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team with him. In 2004 he donated the maximum $2,000 to the president’s reelection campaign and gave $50,000 to the Republican National Committee. This year he is switching his support to Obama. He is one of many former Bush admirers who find the Democrat newcomer appealing.

Matthew Dowd, Bush’s chief campaign strategist in 2004, announced last month that he was disillusioned with the war in Iraq and the president’s “my way or the highway” style of leadership – the first member of Bush’s inner circle to denounce the leader’s performance in office.

Although Dowd has yet to endorse a candidate, he said the only one he liked was Obama. “I think we should design campaigns that appeal, not to 51% of the people, but bring the country together as a whole,” Dowd said.

Bernstein is a champion of human rights, who admires Obama’s call for action on Darfur, while Dowd’s opposition to the war has been sharpened by the expected deployment to Iraq of his son, an Arabic-speaking Army intelligence specialist.

But last week a surprising new name joined the chorus of praise for the antiwar Obama – that of Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s, which called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Kagan is an informal foreign policy adviser to the Republican senator John McCain, who remains the favoured neoconservative choice for the White House because of his backing for the troops in Iraq.

But in an article in the Washington Post, Kagan wrote approvingly that a keynote speech by

Obama at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was “pure John Kennedy”, a neocon hero of the cold war.

In his speech, Obama called for an increase in defence spending and an extra 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to “stay on the offense” against terrorism and ensure America had “the strongest, best-equipped military in the world”. He talked about building democracies, stopping weapons of mass destruction and the right to take unilateral action to protect US “vital interests” if necessary, as well as the importance of building alliances.

“Personally, I liked it,” Kagan wrote.

Disagreements on the war have not stopped John Martin, a Navy reservist and founder of the website Republicans for Obama, from supporting the antiwar senator. He joined the military after the Iraq war and is about to be deployed to Afghanistan.

“I disagree with Obama on the war but I don’t think it is a test of his patriotism,” Martin says. “Obama has a message of hope for the country.”

Financiers have also been oiling Obama’s campaign. In Chicago, his home town, John Canning, a “Bush pioneer” and investment banker who pledged to raise $100,000 for the president in 2004, has given up on the Republicans. “I know lots of my friends in this business are disenchanted and are definitely looking for something different,” he said.

Not to be outdone, Hillary Clinton has many Republican defectors of her own, including John Mack, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, who helped raise $200,000 for the president’s reelection, qualifying him as a “Bush ranger”. He said last week that he was impressed by Clinton’s expertise. “I know we’re associated mainly with the Republicans but we’ve always gone for the individual,” Mack said.

According to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, Obama and Clinton have vacuumed up more than $750,000 (£375,000) in individual contributions from former Bush donors.

Some of the donations reflect the natural tendency of those with power to shift to the likely White House winner. Penny Pritzker, the staggeringly successful head of fundraising for Obama, voted for John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic candidate, but also donated that year to Bush. As she was a head of the family-run Hyatt hotel chain, it was considered a prudent move.

With the Democrats widely expected to win in 2008, Clinton’s status as frontrunner is encouraging Wall Street money to migrate to her, while Obama may be picking up some mischievous “Stop Hillary” donations from still-loyal Republicans. But there is plenty of genuine enthusiasm to go around.

A poll released by Rasmussen last week showed Obama overtaking Clinton for the first time by 32% to 30%, although another poll by Quinnepiac showed her with a 14-point lead over the Illinois senator, her nearest rival.

The current issue of the New Yorker contains a profile of Obama, which highlights his appeal to conservatives.

For his optimism about the future, Obama has been dubbed the “black Ronald Reagan”. He frequently challenges the black community to support two-parent families and encourage school students, instead of criticising them for “acting white”.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Surprise leaders in Georgia money race

By Dave Williams for the Gwinnett Daily Post:

President Bush is ineligible to run for a third term next year, thanks to a constitutional amendment adopted after Franklin D. Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth term in 1944.
For Bush, that may be a good thing. If first-quarter fundraising by the current crop of presidential hopefuls is any indication, voters in Georgia and elsewhere are in the mood for a change.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois led the money race in Georgia among Republicans and Democrats, respectively, during the first three months of this year, according to numbers crunched by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Romney also far outdistanced better-known GOP rivals Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in fundraising nationwide during the first quarter.

“He’s sort of a fresh face on the scene,” said Eric Tanenblatt, finance chairman for the Romney campaign in Georgia. “I think people are looking for new players and a fresh face.”

Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University, also applied the “fresh face” label to Obama, who blew away the rest of the Democratic field in first-quarter fundraising in Georgia and finished a close second nationally to former first lady and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“He is ... a voice of optimism within the Democratic Party, particularly among young people,” Black said.

In various ways, both candidates stand out from their opponents for the 2008 presidential nominations.

Unlike the other major Republican candidates, who have spent years in public office, Romney has been in the private sector for most of his career as a business executive.

“He was known for saving and turning around companies,” Tanenblatt said.

Romney’s successful rescues included the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which were plagued with financial scandals until he took over.

Romney, a Mormon, also has positioned himself to the right of longtime party maverick McCain and Giuliani, the only major candidate at last week’s Republican debate in California who spoke in ambivalent terms about the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

Tanenblatt said Romney’s conservatism is especially appealing in the South.

“He’s a conservative candidate,” he said. “Southern Republicans are conservative.”

For a candidate with much less name recognition than his chief rivals, Romney surprisingly was the top first-quarter fundraiser among Republicans in Georgia, with nearly $400,000. McCain was next with just more than $100,000, and Giuliani only raised about $75,000.

Obama, the only black senator, is clearly the other surprise among the top-tier candidates in this early portion of the presidential race.

State Sen. David Adelman, D-Decatur, who co-chaired a recent Obama fundraiser in Atlanta, said what’s most impressive about his candidate’s fundraising prowess is the breadth of his support.

While Clinton slightly outraised Obama nationwide during the first quarter, Adelman said Obama had about twice as many contributors.

“His fundraising has been successful in every region,” Adelman said. “It’s a good sign that his fundraising is so balanced.”

The Clinton campaign can’t make the same claim. In the South, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina easily topped both Clinton and Obama in first-quarter fundraising.

In Georgia, Obama turned the tables on Clinton and Edwards, raising nearly $480,000 to about $380,000 for Edwards and only a little more than $80,000 for Clinton.

“The surprising thing is that Hillary Clinton hasn’t raised a lot of money (in Georgia),” Black said. “Certainly, a lot of Georgia people gave to her husband.”

At the same time, Black said he doesn’t put a lot of stock in the candidates’ first-quarter numbers because it’s still early in the campaign.

“Some of these campaigns really weren’t organized or weren’t trying to raise a lot of money in the first quarter,” he said.

To be successful in the upcoming primaries, Black said Obama will have to prove that his appeal to young Democrats will translate into votes. As a group, young people are notorious for not showing up at the polls.

Black said Romney’s success at winning primary votes from Southern Republicans could depend on whether former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee enters the race.

“He has the potential to do very well in Georgia and the other Southern states,” Black said. “He would get a lot of votes from conservatives.”
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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Durbin says Obama needs Secret Service in part because he's black

By Shamus Toomey for the Chicago Sun-Times:

Concerns about Sen. Barack Obama's safety that led to him getting a Secret Service detail "had a lot to do with race," Sen. Dick Durbin said Friday.

"I wished we lived in a country where that is not a problem, but it still is," Durbin said. "The fact that Barack Obama is such a highly visible African-American candidate, I think increases his vulnerability."

Obama, vying to become America's first black president, received his Secret Service protection Thursday. It was earlier than any other presidential candidate, excluding Hillary Clinton, who is protected as a former first lady.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in Chicago for Rep. Jan Schakowsky's Ultimate Women's Power Lunch at the Chicago Hilton, was on the panel that recommended Obama be guarded by federal agents.

"I would just say this -- the bipartisan leadership committee that makes this decision, it didn't take long to decide that it would be important for Sen. Obama to have this security," Pelosi said.

The country's first female House speaker, flanked by Secret Service agents, said she couldn't share details, but added: "Suffice to say that it was self-evident that Sen. Obama attracts a great deal of attention wherever he goes, so it was thought, under those circumstances, that he should have" it.

Joining Pelosi at the Schakowsky luncheon was Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman to run for vice president on a major ticket. She said her Secret Service detail "was the best part" of that campaign.

"There are nuts out there, and some of them threaten crazy things to do, but the Secret Service is there," she said. "If I look back on the 1984 campaign, if you were to say what was the best part of it, I'd say the Secret Service because they really do make your life a lot easier. I think it's going to be easier for him to do the number of events that he does because they're there."

Ferraro said she spoke with Obama's wife, Michelle, at the luncheon Friday. "And I said she'll sleep without having to worry about anything. So that's nice," Ferraro said.

Michelle Obama was not made available for comment, but her spokeswoman, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, said, "the family is thankful for the protection and the peace of mind that the Secret Service is providing."

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