Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mrs. Obama at North Side High

I was able to attend the lecture given by Michelle Obama last Friday, and let me tell you....that chick is freakin' awesome! Not only is she every bit the orator that her husband is, but her dry wit and humor was refreshing, setting everyone at their ease, and wooing even the skeptical to her side as the hour-long speech progressed.

She began with how the litmus test of her husband's presidential run has changed with each victory. At first, no one believed he could raise money. Check. Then no one thought he could rouse a viable political team. Check. Then Iowa became the bar. Check. Then New Hampshire...which although going to Clinton, the Obama's saw as a major victory in a Clinton stronghold by finishing only a few points down. Then Super Tuesday. Check. She even quipped that Barack promised her it would be decided one way or the other on that day. She likes to tease him about that!

This theme of the bar always being just out of reach and constantly moving was tied to her pitch that Americans feel the same way. Times have changed so much that most don't feel there is any way to reach the bar because it's so high.....and if you're one of the priveledged few who can reach it, the dumb thing moves on ya just as you reach out to grab it.

She also took issue with the idea that they are 'elitist' when in fact they both came from very humble beginnings. Barack, the black child of a white single teenage mom in the midwest in the 60's (no silver spoons there) and herself from a working class home under the skybridge into Chicago on the south side (she said when her family got the rare chance to drive out of the neighborhood, riding on the skyway felt like going to heaven..."Yippee! We're goin' to Gary!") She went to public schools growing up, and had to finance her college completely. She asked how many presidents are just a couple years out from paying off college loans!? She mentioned the only reason they are out of debt is because Barack wrote two best-selling books. Certainly not from political ways and means.

Michelle said one of the most important reasons she supports her husband (remarking "I've got your back" to a standing ovation) is because she wants others to know what is possible for them when they look at the Obamas. They didn't grow up with money or priveledges. They got where they are by hard work, integrity and hope for better things. She underscored Obama's choices early in life to work in one of the poorest communities on Chicago's south side instead of making his millions in a big-time law firm. The value of being our neighbor's keeper must come back to the forefront, she argued. And the reason they try hard not to participate in the 'slash and burn' politics is because they were taught not to burn bridges because you may need that person in the future ('nother standing ovation).

I was happy to hear her clarify the whole 'Obama wasn't even in the US Senate to vote yea or nay on the war' dealio. In fact, he was in the Illinios state senate in the middle of a tenacious battle for a US Senate seat against a billionaire businessman and a family dynasty. He came out against the 'dumb war' when it possibly meant political suicide. It was more risky for him in that situation than in the comfy, insulated Senate chambers in Washington.

In all, she argued he was the 'real deal'. He is what he says he is. And the 'experience' arguement doesn't take into account the things her husband has done outside the public eye. He has never been one to brag about his 'behind the scenes' work on behalf of the needy, or his choices to take the low road.....and so these experiences are not reported. Michelle's dad taught her that the measure of a person is the choices they make when no one is watching. That is why she believes Obama is the best choice for the next President of the United States.

She ended with a touching story of a young African American girl approaching her after a rally for Barack in South Carolina. In a slow southern draw, the little girl said "Mrs. Obama? Did you know that if your husband becomes the President it will be his-tor-i-cal?" Michelle laughed and agreed....then asked what that means to her. The little girl teared up, then began sobbing so hard she couldn't speak. At first Michelle couldn't understand this reaction....but slowly began to see "this little girl gets it". She understands what's at stake....especially for the young, the poor, the forgotten. What a gift to give such a little girl the inspiration and HOPE that things really CAN be different. Michelle then asked us to close our eyes and imagine Barack placing his hand on the bible and taking the oath of office. (I started crying.)

It was a highlight of my 40 years, truly, to hear this devoted wife, every bit as intelligent and articulate as her spouse, so expertly express why Barack Obama is our best HOPE for the future. What a priveledge to see the future First Lady!
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

3-on-3 with Barack Obama

Barack hit the courts at the Maple Crest Middle School for a pick up game of basketball with the winners of the 3-on-3 Challenge for Change voter registration drive:

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Senator Obama on Autism and Disability

“We must build a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination .... policies must be developed, attitudes must be shaped, and buildings and organizations must be designed to ensure that everyone has a chance to get the education they need and live independently as full citizens in their communities.”

Senator Obama on Autism and Disability

Barack Speaks on World Autism Day

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Barack Obama on K-12 Education

"It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today."

“I don't want to send another generation of American children to failing schools. I don't want that future for my daughters. I don't want that future for your sons. I do not want that future for America.”

Obama's K-12 Plan
  • Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
  • Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
  • Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
  • Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
  • Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama's "STEP UP" plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.
  • Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
  • Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Voting has started

Hello friends,

Voting begins today on MoveOn.org's "Obama in 30 Seconds" contest. My submission made it past the screening and now it is up to people like you to get me into the next round.

The winner of the contest will win a $20,000 certificate good for professional Video equipment. I will be going up against many professionals, so if anyone needs the equipment, it's poor little me (where are all those tiny violins when you need a good pity party). At any rate here is the link to my video.


Now, what I need from everyone. Please, please, please, write a post about the contest and include my link. If possible, put a link to my ad on your sidebar. Also, send an email to everyone you know and send them to my ad. Here are the rules and the way voting works.

The first way is to have one of the 10 highest-rated ads. In order to rate ads, people will go to the Obama in 30 Seconds website and click to get started. Then, they’ll be brought to a voting screen and shown their first ad. While they’re rating ads, voters will not be able to choose what ads they see; we’ll choose for them. This ensures that all of the ads get seen by lots of voters and that nobody is able to pump up an ad’s rating by asking people to just go and vote on that one ad. And of course, each voter will only be shown each ad once.

In the rating system, viewers will give each ad 1-5 stars in each of three categories: Overall Impact, which counts for 50%; Originality, which counts for 25%; and Positive Message, which counts for 25%. At the end of voting, the 10 ads with the highest average rating, using those criteria and weightings, will be finalists.

The second way to become a finalist is to have one of the five ads that’s watched by the highest number of unique viewers on the Obama in 30 Seconds website. For these “direct hits,” we’ll send you a link to your ad as soon as voting opens on Monday. We encourage you to pass the link around to friends and family, post it on your blog, or do anything else creative to drive people to the site to watch it. Each time someone follows that link and watches your ad on our site, we’ll count that toward your total viewers. Of course, people who watch an ad this way will have to enter their email address before they’re counted; this prevents fraud and makes sure it’s not one person just hitting refresh over and over.

It’s important to note that people who see your ad through the automatic voting system won’t be counted toward the number of viewers. But, on the voting page, we’ll provide the direct link to the ad they’re watching. That way, if somebody sees your ad while voting and loves it, they can show it to all their friends. And when they do, since their friends will be using the direct link to your ad, all of those viewers will count toward your total.

It's not often a lowly blogger wins this kind of contest. Hey, I decided to give it a shot. Now, please, give a fellow blogger a hand. If you're not an Obama supporter, that's okay, think of it as helping a fellow blogger. If you are an Obama supporter, then you have a chance for another Obama supporter's home made ad to run on National TV.

Here's thanking you in advance for your cooperation.

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My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) ...by Michael Moore

April 21st, 2008


I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.

So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you.

But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?' THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"

But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.

Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Michael Moore
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

French Kiss for Obama

From the Edmonton Sun:

PARIS -- The more things change, say the French, the more they remain the same. But France of 2008 is no longer the distant 1950s France of my youth. I admit nostalgia.

In those days, most French refused to speak English, a process they found undignified and painful. Today, the new globalized generation loves English. France is becoming bilingual. Even France's entry into the Eurosong competition is -- mon dieu! -- in English.

Paris taxi drivers, who once sought to install plates in their rear seats to electrocute passengers, have become shockingly polite. Retailers and waiters actually seem pleased to see you. The French have discovered a new happy pill.

Wine and bread consumption, once staples of French life, are way down. French are drinking less but better wines. Oppressed French can't smoke in bars and restaurants any more. Youth live on junk food. The wonderful old smoky, black and white France of my youth, with her riots, Edith Piaf and Yves Montand, army plots, silly Left Bank intellectuals, and weird little Panhard and Simca cars has vanished.

Europeans are fascinated by the U.S. presidential race. During two weeks of TV and radio broadcasting, the No. 1 question I was asked is who will win the U.S. primaries and November vote.


If all non-Americans had a vote -- I've always favoured a one-tenth vote for non-Americans -- then Barack Obama would win in a landslide. Like North Americans, most Europeans really don't know much about the experience-light senator, but what they see, they like beaucoup. You can feel a passion here for Obama that is quite remarkable.

He is, of course, the non-Bush. But so is Hillary Clinton, yet she inspires surprisingly little support even though hubby Bill, for reasons that elude me, was widely admired abroad. Hillary is regarded simply as an avatar of the Clinton political machine which, however formidable, is seen as empty of substance, and dedicated only to power and money.

The three Americans most respected internationally are Obama, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore. They are seen as representing America's best qualities. They are also a potent antidote to the rednecks, holy rollers, and totalitarian neocon ideologues who hijacked the Republican Party -- my life-long party -- and blackened America's name around the globe.

Obama is widely seen abroad as the candidate who can end the shameful Bush era and return America to a moderate, productive role in world affairs. He is expected to end the Iraq war and Bush's militarized foreign policy, and reintegrate the United States into the company of law-abiding, environmentally conscious nations, of which the European Union is now the leader.

Obama comes across to Europeans as dignified, decent, eloquent, and truthful -- qualities notably lacking in Bush and Dick Cheney who often represent some of America's cruder instincts and synthetic patriotism. Much of the world would hail and admire America for electing a man of colour, but even more so, one who appears to capture so much of what is great and admirable about the United States.

There are fears here the bitter Clinton-Obama contest may ruin both candidates, leading to four more years of Bush under John McCain.


But it may also benefit Obama. He needs to toughen up before facing the ferocious Republican attack machine that sunk war veteran John Kerry's campaign under a torrent of "swiftboat" lies. McCain is a gentleman, but not so Karl Rove's character assassins in waiting.

Obama could sharply improve America's highly negative image as a determined enemy of the Muslim world. Not because his father was Muslim, but because of his image of fairness and sensible foreign policy proposals calling for open dialogue instead of confrontation.

If Americans want to lower the terrorism threat against their nation, electing Obama is a good way to start.

It's distressing listening to the rich McCain and Clintons label Obama an "elitist" because he is intelligent, and poised. Next, they will brand him, "too French."
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorses Obama

Here is the full text of the endorsement:

On Tuesday, Pennsylvanians will have the unusual luxury of voting in a Democratic presidential primary that promises to be truly relevant. Like two opposing armies marching to a new Gettysburg, the forces of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton come to this latest battlefield symbolizing two views of America -- one of the past, one of the future. Pennsylvania Democrats need to rise to the historic moment.

For us it is the candidates' vision and character that loom as the decisive factors in this race. For as dissimilar as they are, the two share much in common. It starts with their mold-breaking candidacies. Whoever wins the nomination will vie for a special place in U.S. history -- to be either the first African-American or the first female commander in chief.

Although their backgrounds are different, they have come to the same conclusion, one now shared by many Americans, that the Bush administration has taken the nation on a profoundly wrong course both at home and abroad. The excitement that has animated this primary season -- the surge of new voters, the change of party registrations -- is an expression of the nation's hunger for change.

For as hard as they have run against each other, both candidates are united in running vehemently against President Bush and all his works -- another common theme that came out in their visits to the Post-Gazette editorial board on successive days this week. Sen. Clinton was the more explicit in her disdain: George W. Bush "is one of the worst, if not the worst, president we have ever had."

Not surprisingly, the policies they advocate have much in common and are generally the polar opposites of those espoused by the current administration.

On the domestic front, the prescriptions they offer on issues such as health care, the environment and education declare that government must be an agent of change to benefit the lives of ordinary Americans, not a power that shrinks from regulating or directing for fear of offending a core ideology.

In their expansive plans, Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton do have their own emphases and differences -- Sen. Clinton's health-care plan, for example, would cover more Americans than Sen. Obama's, but both would be a vast improvement on the status quo that leaves 47 million Americans uninsured and continues to soar in expense.

On foreign policy, both are united in their desire to bring the troops home from Iraq while improving the strategic situation in Afghanistan, the place of unfinished business where the al-Qaida spiders first spun their deadly web for 9/11 and are coming back thanks to the Iraq diversion.

On Iraq, for those inclined to remember, Sen. Clinton carries more baggage, for she voted to approve the war in the first place. For those inclined to forgive, she would seek to repair relations with allies strained by the Iraq misadventure, as Sen. Obama also would.

There is one last common ground for these candidates: They are both uncommonly smart, thoughtful and very well-versed in the issues. They care about people and they care about the workings of government. They are prepared.

Their strengths promise, in short, the one thing that the Bush administration has so shockingly lacked: competency. There will be no intellectually lazy president in the White House if either succeeded to it, no outsourced thinking to the vice president or the secretary of defense, no cheerfully shallow praise for unqualified political appointments, no enduring cause for embarrassment by the American people.

So forget all the primary skirmishing. Sen. Obama is every bit as prepared to answer the ring of the 3 a.m. phone as Sen. Clinton. Forget this idea that Sen. Obama is all inspiration and no substance. He has detailed positions on the major issues. When the occasion demands it, he can marshal eloquence in the service of making challenging arguments, which he did to great effect in his now-famous speech putting his pastor's remarks in the greater context of race relations in America.

Nor is he any sort of elitist. As he said yesterday in effectively refuting this ridiculous charge in a meeting with Post-Gazette editors, "my life's work has been to get everybody a fair shake."

This editorial began by observing that one candidate is of the past and one of the future. The litany of criticisms heaped on Sen. Obama by the Clinton camp, simultaneously doing the work of the Republicans, is as illustrative as anything of which one is which. These are the cynical responses of the old politics to the new.

Sen. Obama has captured much of the nation's imagination for a reason. He offers real change, a vision of an America that can move past not only racial tensions but also the political partisanship that has so bedeviled it.

To be sure, Sen. Clinton carries the aspirations of women in particular, but even in this she is something of a throwback, a woman whose identity and public position are indelibly linked to her husband, her own considerable talents notwithstanding. It does not help that the Clinton brand is seen by many in the country as suspect and shifty, bearing the grimy stamp of political calculation counting as much as principle.

Pennsylvania -- this encrusted, change-averse commonwealth where a state liquor monopoly holds on against all reason and where municipal fiefdoms shrink from sensible consolidation -- needs to take a strong look at the new face and the new hope in this race. Because political business-as-usual is more likely to bring the usual disappointment for the Democrats this fall, the Post-Gazette endorses the nomination of Barack Obama, who has brought an excitement and an electricity to American politics not seen since the days of John F. Kennedy.

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The Hope-bug. . .

So, I haven't posted on this blog for months. I am pretty intimidated by it. I don't really write in a manner that I deem appropriate for a blog of this nature, and I am certainly not as eloquent as Cindy or Angie. I posted something over at Ain't That Sherific today that I thought I would share here. . .

Anyhoo, I've been out of touch. I decided to open the laptop today and check out some regular reads . . . what I saw was a few tabs open from the hubby. He had been following a string of comments over at a blog that I sometimes frequent. I was curious and I got sucked in. The argument was from a Clinton supporter and was uber-bashing Obama.

When I woke this morning at 4:00 it was playing on my mind. Robert and I had talked about it last night. Certain things in her argument had rubbed me the wrong way. I would link to the post and talk about my arguments, but that's not what this post is about. . . so hold on. I told Robert that I couldn't really grasp her argument because I felt it was totally and completely bitter and arrogant. She was playing cards that I really didn't agree with. Had we been playing euchre, I would've asked for anther partner. He said that it was nearly the same argument that he found all over the pro-Clinton blogs. . .

I laid in bed for an hour or so this morning (I cherish my sleep, usually I squeeze every last minute I can out of he alarm clock) turning it over and over in my head. Then I decided to come downstairs and check it out. Sure enough, most of what I deemed malarky that she was spewing was on each and every site I visited. It was as though this was a talking-points memo from the HRC campaign. Bitterness ensued everywhere I went. Anger spewed.

My point? Oh yeah, I need to have one of those. . . My point is that in my little sweep of the blog-o-sphere confirmed for me what I was pondering in bed. Obama supporters that I have met in real life and on this infernal machine have one thing that Hillary supporters don't. Hope. I know, I know some of the blogs I read sarcastically call Senator Obama "Mr. Hope" and mock him, but that IS what he inspires. It is exactly the opposite from the HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton) supporters that I have read this morning. (I know not everyone so don't get your panties in a bunch, but I will say MAJORITY) They are content to bash Obama and sound bitter and ugly and arrogant. They seem angry. They seem, dare I say it . . . bitchy.

It really is a pretty striking difference if you look. It is not ALL that way. There are some hopeful and positive HRC supporters and some angry, bitter Obama supporters, but the majority of what I found, did support my argument this morning. It seemed pretty telling to me.
I was one of those people that saw Obama's speech to the Convention in 2004 and said, "He will be our first black president." He inspired. He has hope. He thinks it is possible to lift America back to where it once was before Bush got a hold of it. I am pessimistic by nature. I'm not certain it can be done. I think maybe the damage done to our country and our reputation is far too much. Maybe we are in a downward spiral that cannot be reversed. Having a presidential nominee say that "we can do it" isn't new. But when Barack Obama says it I can believe it. Why? Because you can see that HE believes it. That, my friends, is inspirational. Maybe that's why I haven't seen the same extent of Hillary bashing on Obama sites as I have Obama bashing on Hillary ones. We have hope. We have positive vibes for change. We have what our candidate has, apparently it is catchy. . .
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Allentown endorses Obama

The Allentown Morning Call has endorsed Barack Obama. You know, that town full of blue collar folks offended by his straight talk about bitter feelings in the heartland. . .

Pennsylvania's Democratic voters on April 22 will choose between two candidates in the presidential primary. Both are qualified to become the nation's chief executive. They have more similarities than differences. But, The Morning Call recommends that Sen. Barack Obama be nominated, and we offer three reasons.

The first is the quality of his campaign. It has surprised the experts by moving him close to the finish line against bigger, more established political machines and it has communicated his basic ideas well.

The second is his message of hope and change. It conveys a vision of the nation's future that is in tune with the tenor and consensus of most Americans.

And third, and most important for the Democratic Party at this moment in history, there is Sen. Obama's ability to inspire.

The other Democratic candidate on the ballot here, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, has focused their criticism on Sen. Obama's relatively short resume. But there is nothing naive or amateurish about the campaign he has assembled. We wish he (and Sen. Clinton) had paid more attention to the Lehigh Valley, of course. It is Pennsylvania's third-biggest metropolitan area and it deserves better than one visit by him and zero by Sen. Clinton this deep into the campaign.

But, he has done a good job of building a Pennsylvania organization. It has had to climb a steep hill, given that Sen. Clinton has the biggest share of high-profile Democratic officials' endorsements. Using the Internet, e-mail and old-fashioned storefront headquarters, he continues to build a corps of supporters here. And, at least so far, his has done a better job than the Clinton campaign of keeping the campaign positive.

In fact, while both candidates are members of the same U.S. Senate, Sen. Obama is the one who has distinguished himself as the better agent for changing Washington. Remember, on the issues, the differences between the Obama and Clinton platforms are thin or non-existent. He has set himself apart by enunciating a vision of a different America, one that people recognize as resting on the nation's founding principles. His vision calls upon ''the better angels of our nature'' just as Abraham Lincoln did in 1861.

Sen. Obama offers that vision to a nation that, like President Lincoln's, is divided. It is not about to set out on a literal civil war, but Republican and Democrat, young and old, conservative and liberal have much to fight about and are at each other's throats with little provocation. Finding common ground is the key, and Sen. Obama is better able to do that than Sen. Clinton. She has become a polarizing figure, an image that stems in part from the bitter partisanship of Washington during President Bill Clinton's administration. It was not for nothing that the journalist James B. Stewart called his book about the politics of those years ''Blood Sport.'' That rancor was not primarily Hillary Clinton's fault, but it is real, it persists, and her campaign so far has not dealt effectively with quelling it.

Then, there is his ability to inspire. It starts with his unmatched oratorical skills. His speech in Philadelphia on March 18 about race in America will join the greatest speeches in this nation's history in future textbooks on that topic. The combination of his scholarship, career experience and personal style leaves listeners at first rapt and then inspired. His oratory soars because he has a desire to listen to and represent all Americans -- the ''vision thing'' as President George H.W. Bush once called it. Sen. Clinton, by contrast, too often just sounds like a partisan, and that isn't change.

Sen. Clinton has made much of her ''ability to lead'' on day one in the Oval Office. Past experience like hers is one thing, but leadership also depends on having a vision, plans to pursue that vision, and an ability to inspire others to follow. On those grounds, Sen. Barack Obama is well-suited to lead, and The Morning Call recommends his nomination in the Democratic primary.
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Don't Be Fooled: Obama Is Actually Leading Hillary By 1-2 Million Votes

Sean Christensen explains why Obama's popular vote lead is even wider than most believe. From the Huffington Post.

Late Update: There are some discrepancies between the figures for the popular vote between different news sites, and would alter my calculations substantially depending on who you believe. For example, in Kansas, CNN claims that 36,887 STATE DELEGATES represented the Kansas voters, whereas Real Clear Politics claims that 36,887 VOTERS represent the total. In contrast, CNN claims 406 STATE DELEGATES represented Alaska, whereas Real Clear Politics claims that 8,868 VOTERS represent the total. This, of course, is the reason to pursue the truth in these matters, and if Real Clear Politics says that only 36,887 'actual voters' came out to vote in Kansas, as opposed to, say, the 302,612 voters who came out to vote in Arkansas, which has virtually the same population, then I stand corrected. But it shouldn't stop the DNC from making a clear attempt to make sure these turnout numbers are correct.

Many DNC insiders fear that if Hillary Clinton manages to lose the pledged delegates, she may still take the lead in the popular vote, thereby causing the superdelegates to make a hard decision as to which candidate they should choose come August. Their fears are rooted in the notion that Clinton is only behind by roughly 800,000 votes, and that she could feasibly catch up with a big win in Pennsylvania.

They'd be wrong.

In fact, Obama leads in the popular vote by anywhere between 2 million to 3 million voters. How is this possible? The reason lies in the ever elusive math of the Democratic caucus.

When voters everywhere were watching the returns of, say, Kansas on Super Tuesday, most of them naturally assumed that Barack Obama won 27,172 votes to Hillary Clinton's 9,462. But those aren't voters they're counting, they're really just more delegates. County delegates. The county delegates represent an undefined amount of peoples' votes, depending on how many people arrive to the caucus and how many county delegates are assigned. This number could be anywhere from 5 to 100 people and beyond.

Since there is no exact number of how many votes are actually represented in a caucus, let's just round it out to 20 voters per delegate, out of morbid curiosity. That means each delegate, on average, represents about 20 people, and we will multiply the final tally by 20.

Therefore, in Kansas, Barack Obama gained 543,440 votes to Hillary Clinton's 189,240 votes. This is a far wider margin of victory than Clinton supporters would like to admit, but decidedly more accurate.

But let's just say, for arguments sake, that we're overestimating how many people a county delegate represents. Let's call it 10 rather than 20. Then the tally becomes 271,720 votes for Obama, and 94,620 for Clinton. Still a substantial victory. And that is the absolute rock bottom lowest average estimate.

If we apply this math to all of the caucuses, the results are astounding. But to be fair, we won't count Texas for the final tally. Their caucuses were basically repeat voters who most likely voted in the Primary earlier in the day. Also, there are no clear figures as of yet for Washington and Wyoming.

There have been 13 caucus states so far in the Primary and Clinton has only won one of them. Obama handily defeated her in Iowa, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, Hawaii and Wyoming. Clinton won Nevada.

The current tally of county delegates (that are available) for these states, has Obama at 366,764 and Clinton at 156,563. When we multiply these numbers by 10, it puts Obama at 3,667,640 and Clinton at 1,565,630, a margin of roughly 2 million votes.

When this math is applied to the final tally, it puts Obama ahead of Clinton by 2,300,000 votes, a far cry from the 800,000 most DNC insiders think is the estimate.

Obviously, there is no way to truly estimate how many people these county and city delegates represent. But the fact remains, these caucus tallies are not accurate depictions of the popular vote, nor are they representative of any singular person or voter. Multiplying these figures by 10 gives a far more telling story towards the truth. And when the Clinton Campaign makes blind claims that they may somehow trump Obama on the popular vote, they may not clearly realize how far behind they actually are in the count.

There are many people who estimate that a state pledged delegate represents roughly 10,000 voters. So, in August, the DNC members need to ask themselves this one question: If a state pledged delegate does not represent a single voter... then why should a county delegate?

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Senator Obama in Terra Haute, Indiana

Senator Obama’s comments in response to the Clinton and McCain campaign’s attacks -

TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA – At a town hall meeting in Indiana, U.S. Senator Barack Obama made the following comments in response to the Clinton and McCain campaign’s attacks:

“When I go around and I talk to people there is frustration and there is anger and there is bitterness. And what’s worse is when people are expressing their anger then politicians try to say what are you angry about? This just happened – I want to make a point here today.

“I was in San Francisco talking to a group at a fundraiser and somebody asked how’re you going to get votes in Pennsylvania? What’s going on there? We hear that’s its hard for some working class people to get behind you’re campaign. I said, “Well look, they’re frustrated and for good reason. Because for the last 25 years they’ve seen jobs shipped overseas. They’ve seen their economies collapse. They have lost their jobs. They have lost their pensions. They have lost their healthcare.

“And for 25, 30 years Democrats and Republicans have come before them and said we’re going to make your community better. We’re going to make it right and nothing ever happens. And of course they’re bitter. Of course they’re frustrated. You would be too. In fact many of you are. Because the same thing has happened here in Indiana. The same thing happened across the border in Decatur.

The same thing has happened all across the country. Nobody is looking out for you. Nobody is thinking about you. And so people end up- they don’t vote on economic issues because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them. So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms.

They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington. So I made this statement-- so, here’s what rich. Senator Clinton says ‘No, I don’t think that people are bitter in Pennsylvania. You know, I think Barack’s being condescending.’ John McCain says, ‘Oh, how could he say that? How could he say people are bitter? You know, he’s obviously out of touch with people.’

“Out of touch? Out of touch? I mean, John McCain—it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch? Senator Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I’m out of touch?

No, I’m in touch. I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania. I know what’s going on in Indiana. I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed-up. They’re angry and they’re frustrated and they’re bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.”

Senator Obama in Terra Haute, Indiana


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Bill Richardson speaks on his Obama Endorsement

From the LA Times:

Why Gov. Bill Richardson didn't endorse Clinton
By Mark Z. Barabak,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 12, 2008

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Before he endorsed Barack Obama, before he drew the wrath of the Clintons and was likened to Judas, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson nearly endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.But Richardson hesitated, and as the Democratic campaign turned ugly, he grew angry.

There was that "3 a.m." TV ad, in which Clinton questioned Obama's personal mettle. "That upset me," Richardson said.

There were some ham-fisted phone calls from Clinton backers, who questioned Richardson's honor and suggested that the governor, who served in President Clinton's Cabinet, owed Hillary Clinton his support.

"That really ticked me off," Richardson said.

Still, even as he moved from Clinton toward Obama -- "the pursuit was pretty relentless on both sides" -- Richardson wrestled with the question of loyalty. After 14 years in Congress and a measure of fame as an international troubleshooter, Richardson was named Clinton's U.N. ambassador, then Energy secretary: "two important appointments," Richardson said.

He finally concluded that he had settled his debt to the former president: He had worked for Clinton's election in 1992, helped pass the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his administration, stood by him during the Monica S. Lewinsky sex scandal, and rounded up votes to fight impeachment.

"I was loyal," Richardson said during an extended conversation over breakfast this week at the governor's mansion in Santa Fe. "But I don't think that loyalty is transferable to his wife. . . . You don't transfer loyalty to a dynasty."

He was impressed by the mostly positive tone of Obama's campaign, and grew to appreciate the substance and depth of their private conversations. The more Richardson heard from the Washington heavyweights backing Clinton, the more convinced he became of the need for a change inside the Beltway.

It has been three weeks since Richardson embraced the Illinois senator, an endorsement that continues to rankle and resonate -- the significance, it would seem, going far beyond the preference of a governor from a poor, rural state.

But this is a family fight, between kin of the Clinton years, so perhaps the raw emotions shouldn't be surprising. "They're very similar in personality," said Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party and a friend of both Bill Clinton and Richardson. "There was a bond established, and I think [the former president] feels a little hurt."

Attention to the endorsement might have quickly passed but for the strenuous protest of Bill Clinton and others. Speaking for the campaign, advisor Mark Penn suggested Richardson's endorsement came too late to be much help to Obama. "Everyone has their endorsers," he said.But then James Carville, the pundit, strategist and Clinton loyalist, hurled a lightning bolt by comparing Richardson to Judas and his surrender of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Soon after came an odd back-and-forth concerning a private conversation in which, supposedly, either Hillary Clinton or Richardson dismissed Obama as unelectable. (Neither party will discuss particulars, but Richardson said he never made that statement.)

Days later, just when interest in the endorsement seemed to wane, former President Clinton exploded in a rant about Richardson at the California Democratic Party convention. He later apologized, but his tirade in a closed-door session with superdelegates rekindled the story for several more days.

People close to Clinton said he views the governor's action as a personal betrayal. "I think [Richardson] really owes a big chunk of his success and his career to the Clintons," said an associate who has discussed the matter with the former president and requested anonymity to speak candidly.

"Look," Richardson responded, "I was a successful congressman rescuing hostages before I was appointed. I was a governor afterward, elected on my own."Even more than the endorsement, Clinton's associate said, the former president was angry because he thought Richardson broke his word. The two men watched the Super Bowl together at the governor's mansion -- Clinton made a special trip from California in bad weather -- and the former president walked away convinced that Richardson would endorse his wife or, at least, stay neutral.

Richardson was, in fact, close to backing the New York senator that day, though his advisors -- many of whom backed Obama -- urged him to wait. "I remember talking to the president and saying, 'I'm leaning. But I'm not there yet.' He denied pledging neutrality if he changed his mind. "Sometimes people hear what they want to hear," Richardson said.

Normally the most gregarious of politicians, the governor during the interview this week was subdued as he slowly worked his way through a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and green chiles. His voice was soft, and he rarely smiled.

His endorsement had been highly coveted, due largely to his stature as one of the country's most prominent Latino leaders. The pursuit began soon after Richardson quit the presidential race on Jan. 10.

I think (hope) other superdelegates will follow in Gov. Richardson's bold (and reasonable) steps. He obviously wrestled with the decision, but the Clintons' behavior once again tipped the balance to Obama's corner. He is to be applauded for his courage to say 'no' to the Clinton dynasty for the sake of a more perfect union. Maybe his actions will encourage more superdelegates to be brave and stand up not just for Obama but for decency in American politics.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obama to receive Phila. endorsements today

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
A bevy of city and state elected officials - specifically, six City Councilmembers, three state represenatives and two state senators - are expected to endorse Barack Obama for president at 2 p.m. today in City Hall.

"In addition to voicing support for their preferred Democratic candidate, this endorsement event is meant to balance the endorsements of other political leaders in the city and state, including Mayor Nutter and Governor Rendell," stated a press release announcing the event.

Nutter and Rendell are backing Hillary Rodham Clinton in Pennsylvania's April 22 primary.

The Council members who will announce their support of Obama today are: Curtis Jones, Bill Green, Jannie Blackwell, Donna Reed-Miller, Jim Kenney and Wilson Goode, Jr.

Among the Pennsylvania lawmakers will be state senators Shirley Kitchen and Vincent Hughes, and state representatives Jewell Williams, Harold James and Tony Payton Jr.

"In Pennsylvania, we realize that top party officials are not with us as it relates to Senator Obama's candidacy," Jones said, "but there are three words that were born in Philadelphia and still resonate across the Commonwealth today, and they are 'We the People.'"

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Barack Obama - sistible!

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Obama sets PA spending record

Barack Obama isn't just outspending Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania; he's outspending every politician ever:

Obama is currently spending $2.2 million per week on television here, over twice what Hillary Clinton is spending and an unprecedented ad buy in Pennsylvania, according to Democratic media consultant Neil Oxman, who is not working for a candidate.

"Nobody has ever spent 2.2 million in this state: not Rendell, not Specter, not Casey, not Santorum, not Bush, not Kerry," said Oxman, naming the best-funded candidates to run statewide in recent years. "That's unbelievable."

Here's the latest ad, featuring his sister and his grandmother:

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Clinton supporter wakes up to reality.

From the Boston Globe:

By Tripp Jones

My fellow Clintonites, it's time for Obama

FOR SUPPORTERS of Senator Hillary Clinton, like me, it's time to get behind
her rival, Senator Barack Obama.

The exposure of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright
Jr.'s outrageous and divisive remarks has injected the raw emotions associated
with race relations into the presidential campaign. This new dynamic raises the
stakes in an already high-stakes race. Our responsibility as progressive-minded
voters is to show Americans a positive alternative to the toxic politics of
race. Rallying around Obama now increases our chances of doing just that. Obama
has run a positive and inspiring campaign, and has attracted a majority of
pledged delegates. It is hard to envision a scenario in which Democratic
superdelegates override the will of millions of primary voters and caucus
participants. Obama will be the nominee.

Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Wright presents Republicans with
a polarizing wedge issue to exploit with general election voters. This approach
not only risks an Obama loss in November - denying us a fresh, capable leader -
but it would set the country back in its racial reconciliation process.
Americain 2008 should be better than that.

As we have done at many key junctures in our nation's history, Democrats
and other progressive-minded voters must lead the way. The current firestorm is
an opportunity to move beyond the anger and resentment that have characterized
our nation's dialogue on race. By throwing our enthusiastic support behind Obama
now, voters of all political stripes can echo the candidate's refrain, "Not this

There have been many moments in our history when we failed to heed that
call. Twenty years ago, as a staffer of Governor Michael Dukakis's presidential
campaign, I observed the use of the now-famous "Willie Horton" ad to undermine a
good man's character, fan the flames of racial division and distract voters from
the most important issues of the time.
Not this time. We have an opportunity
to show that we have learned from our mistakes. The first step, which Obama took
in his recent speech on race, was to condemn Wright's offensive

The second step is in our hands: Strengthen Obama as the Democratic nominee
by uniting behind him now. Amplify his postpartisan message to American voters.
Families in Pennsylvania, like those across America, are feeling insecure about
their jobs, healthcare, their children's education, and the safety of the
nation. They want leaders to be bold and practical in addressing our most
serious challenges, and to work across party lines to achieve results. Obama
promises to do that.

Those of us who have supported Clinton and continue to believe that she
would be an excellent president can play an important part in moving our nation
forward by supporting Obama. We can spread the word that he offers the right
leadership for these challenging times.
Our support would send a powerful
message that the United States is headed in a new direction - on race relations,
certainly, but perhaps most importantly, on what it means to be an

Tripp Jones is cofounder of MassINC
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Friday, April 04, 2008

So this Obama chap came to town

robert-obama.jpgI was up before the sun this morning to prepare myself to head to Wayne High School where I was volunteering with the Obama campaign. When we arrived, the sun was still below the horizon and the clouds were sprinkling on us. We each received our credentials and waited - and waited. The Secret Service and Sheriff’s department had to go through the entire school complete with sniffing dogs - I wonder how many Wayne HS students were shitting their pants over things they may or may not have left in their lockers.. We also had to wait fro the TSA to set up the screening stations that everyone had to walk through upon entering the building.

After we finally were inside, I discovered my job was to seat people in the VIP section - hey, I already had a ticket for this section, so I was cool with that. At one point, one of the gentlemen who walked around with little coiled wires coming out of their ears asked me to reserve a couple of seats for his crew - just in case they needed them. Oh boy, talk about being back in High School - now the Federal hall monitors were making me save seats.

Although the event was scheduled to begin at 11:00AM, there was a slight delay. Obama was introduced by Michael Riley, who was the Indiana campaign director for Sen. Robert Kennedy back in 1968. Oddly enough, my first presidential rally was at the ripe age of 13 in Indianapolis - exactly 40 years to the day. It was on that date that Robert Kennedy informed us all that Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated, so it was appropriate that the majority of Obama’s speech was about the legacy of Dr. King. And how fortunate for me to have a front row seat at a speech that in no way resembled the other stump speeches the Illinois Senator has given in recent weeks. Today was special.

After his speech, Obama kidded around about being finished, then went on to accept several questions during the town hall style meeting. He handled everything from gun ownership and unions to youth and the environment. The final question came from a youngster who appeared to be around 10 years of age. He wanted to know what inspired Obama to run for president. Obama responded by mentioning Dr. King’s book, “Why We Can’t Wait“. He said there was no time to wait. “Now is the best time.”

Below are two videos - the first is video of the events leading up to Obama’s speech and the second is Obama’s remarks about Dr. King.

All in all it was a very inspiring day.


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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Because ...

My kids know what's what.

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Obama on Hardball

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Obama "wows" PA crowd

From Harrisburg, PA:

Obama often bantered and joked with the audience and maintained a casual style that seemed to impress many attendees. He thanked the audience for its support during a long presidential race. "There have been babies that have been born and are now walking and talking" since he first announced his candidacy 15 months ago, Obama said jokingly. "I am running because of what Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] called the fierce urgency of now," he added, dismissing the concerns of those who suggested he not run for president now because he is young enough to wait.

But what the crowd seemed to appreciate most were answers perceived as frank and straightforward that didn't so much tell people what they wanted to hear as they did urge collaboration and participation from ordinary citizens in addressing issues such as wage discrimination and education.

His answer to a question about how to better educate children drew cheers. In addition to any efforts the government and school systems might make, "Parents have to take some responsibility," he said. "And if your child's misbehaving in school, don't cuss out the teacher.... Education is not some passive thing where you can just pour it in your ear and you're educated."

That type of response—encouraging people to take some responsibility but showing his concern for any number of issues—were what many attendees said they found most impressive. "I thought he was excellent," said 48-year-old Brenda Alton, a resident of Steelton, Pa., and pastor of a Harrisburg church. "He was real with us." One of the things Alton liked best was that Obama acknowledged that fixing some issues would take time, "but he also challenged us as people."

Obama took questions from the crowd "boy, girl, boy, girl"—to be fair, he said. Among the questions was one from Harrisburg resident Reginald Guy, 59, whose concern was a local issue. He wanted to know what Obama would do to help address the federal bureaucracy that frustrates many and has become an issue in Harrisburg during debate over where to build a new federal courthouse. Many local residents, including Guy, favor an inner-city site that they hope would spur economic development of that area. Obama admitted he wasn't familiar with the debate over the location but said he'd work as president to see that the federal government focuses less on bureaucracy and more on working for ordinary people.

Was Guy satisfied with Obama's response? "Senator Obama gave a very insightful answer to the need to make the federal bureaucracy more accessible to the people," Guy said. "With him as president of the U.S., his response tonight suggested that Pennsylvania—and in particular, Harrisburg—would have a friend in the White House. We need a president that will stand for economic development for all people and not just for the favored few."

"I believe there's integrity within him," said Alton, who stood in line for an hour to get tickets and made the decision to vote for Obama in the past few months. "I prefer integrity over nine years of experience, and I know he will surround himself with great people."

Attendees Melissa Hoffman-Long, 29, and husband Nick Hoffman, 28, agreed, calling the meeting "fantastic." They came with their 5-month-old daughter, Maggie. Unable to get tickets Saturday, they showed up at the event on Sunday and waited for two hours to get in via an overflow line.

After the event, some said they were even more sure now that Obama would get their votes than when they walked in.

"I think it was probably the best political speech I've ever attended," said 64-year-old Beverly Kelchner, a resident of Carlisle, Pa., who counts healthcare and the war in Iraq among the issues driving her support of Obama.

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