Saturday, December 29, 2007

Obama calls on Iowans to stand for change at caucus
The Marshalltown Times-Republican | December 28, 2007
By Ken Black

Saying he is the best chance for the Democrats in November, Barack Obama brought a message of hope to Marshalltown during a campaign stop Thursday.

"This is our moment. This is our time," Obama told the crowd of approximately 300. "If you stand with us in seven days … if you stand for change so that our children will have the same chance that was given to us ... then we will win this caucus, and we will win this election and we will change the course of history."

...He cited polls showing he may be the only Democrat who would win a general election against all five of the top Republicans. Obama credited that to his ability to reach across political boundaries that commonly divide Americans.

Turnout despite big snowstorm impresses Obama
By Gregg Hennigan

Brian Ray/The GazetteDemocratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks to a gym full of people during a campaign event Friday at Northwest Junior High School in Coralville.

CORALVILLE — Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama doesn't appear to have to worry about his supporters staying at home if bad weather strikes Iowa on caucus night.

Despite a snowstorm that made travel difficult, an upbeat crowd of more than 900 people turned out Friday for a campaign stop at Northwest Junior High School in Coralville for the senator from Illinois.

"This is remarkable. ... What an unbelievable crowd," Obama said.

The snow didn't discourage Obama supporter Roberta Payne, 66, of Iowa City, from attending. In fact, this is the second time this month she's braved inclement weather to hear Obama speak.

"I went to see him in Cedar Rapids in an ice storm that was 10 times worse than this," she said.

Payne said Obama had won her support in part because she believes he will bring change to Washington.

The promise of change has been a major theme in Obama's campaign, and the Coralville stop came on the third day of his "Stand for Change" tour of Iowa leading up to Thursday's caucuses.

He repeatedly hit on the subject of change Friday, calling for an end to the war in Iraq, decreasing the influence of lobbyists, shifting the government's attitude on the environment and improving the nation's schools.

"I'm running because I believe that we're in a defining moment of our history, and I thought about what Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) called 'the fierce urgency of now,'" Obama said.

Obama also brought to mind King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech with a series of statements beginning with, "I believe."

"I believe that this is the moment, that this is our time right now," Obama said.

Obama is in a tight three-way race for the caucus lead with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

Obama railed against what he called the current political atmosphere of extreme partisanship, saying he wanted to unite Americans of all stripes. He said that while some have knocked his perceived lack of experience, the "real gamble" is to continue doing the same things with the "same folks" over and over again.

"With this election, it's time to turn the page," he said.

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Leaving Iraq will make America safer

Surge success can't mask political failure

By Barack Obama
For the Monitor
December 29. 2007 12:25AM

In recent weeks, I've been asked if the "surge" is working, and if we should continue to fight the war in Iraq. The answer is decisively no.

Those who support the surge are making the same mistakes that war supporters have made all along: They fail to understand how the Iraq war sets back our security, and they fail to understand that there is no military solution in Iraq.

I am the only major candidate for president who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, before it was politically popular. I thought it was wrong to take our focus off of the terrorists in Afghanistan who hit us on 9/11, and to use fear and falsehoods to attack a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. I warned about "an occupation of undetermined length, and undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences" in the middle of the Arab world.

But Congress voted for war, giving President Bush the authority that he uses to keep our troops in Iraq to this day. The costs of that decision have been immense: nearly 4,000 precious American lives, a price-tag that will exceed $1 trillion, and a world that is more dangerous and resistant to American leadership.

The surge has lowered the level of violence in Iraq from the horrific levels of 2006, but it has completely failed to resolve the political grievances at the heart of Iraq's civil war. Meanwhile, we continue to take casualties, our military is overstretched and our military leadership warns that Afghanistan risks sliding into chaos without more troops.

The only way we can press Iraq's leaders to reconcile is to make it clear that we are leaving - otherwise they will continue to use our presence to put off hard compromises. That is why I have repeatedly called for a clear timetable for the removal of our forces from Iraq. The quickest, responsible pace for withdrawal is 1 to 2 combat brigades each month, which means we could remove all of our combat brigades within 16 months.

We should leave enough troops in Iraq to protect our diplomats, and we should have a counter-terrorism force stationed in Iraq that could launch targeted strikes on al-Qaida if it tries to establish a base in Iraq.

As we remove our troops, we must step up our efforts to reach a political solution. Inside of Iraq, we should convene Iraq's leaders and bring in the UN in a push for an accord on national reconciliation. In the region, we should launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent history involving all of Iraq's neighbors - including Iran and Syria - to secure Iraq's borders and support stability. And to deal with the urgent crisis of four million displaced Iraqis, we should lead an international initiative by providing $2 billion for humanitarian relief.

Ending the war isn't just about Iraq's security - it's about America's. Every time we send units to serve tour after tour of duty in Iraq, we limit our ability to deal with other crises. Every month that we're spending $8 billion in Iraq, we neglect other priorities. Every time we hear a plea for more support in Afghanistan or get another message from Osama bin Laden, we're reminded that this war has distracted us from real threats.

It's time to end the war, and the mindset that got us into war. We invaded Iraq because Washington prized tough talk over sound judgment. Now, five years later, Congress has voted for an amendment that opened the door to Iran, candidates are using 9/11 to scare up votes, and conventional wisdom is beginning to trumpet the surge as a success.

To secure our country and restore our standing in the world, we have to stop fighting a misguided war and reject a politics of fear that made the war possible. That is what I will do as president.

------ End of article


For the Monitor

This article is: 1 days old.

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North Dakota Senator Conrad Endorses Obama for President!

North Dakota Sen. Conrad endorses Obama for president.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad is endorsing Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Conrad says he hasn't endorsed anyone in a Democratic presidential primary before. Conrad was first elected to the Senate in 1986.

But Conrad says he thinks it's important for party leaders to stand up and be counted in the current campaign.

North Dakota's other senator, Byron Dorgan, and Congressman Earl Pomeroy are officially neutral so far in the Democratic presidential race.

Conrad says he believes Obama has the greatest potential among the Democratic candidates to unite the country and inspire people.

The Iowa caucuses are on Thursday. Conrad says he'll be campaigning for Obama this weekend in the state.

Obama is a first-term Democratic senator from Illinois. Three other senators are in the Democratic primary field Hillary Clinton of New York, Joe Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Happy New Year 2008!

Happy New Year 2008!

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