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Barack Obama on Principles & Values

Democratic nomine for President; Junior Senator (IL)


Bill Ayers is not & will not be involved with my campaign

Q: Sen. McCain, your commercials have included words like “disrespectful,” “dangerous,” “dishonorable,” “he lied.” Your running mate said he “palled around with terrorists.”

McCAIN: On Mr. Ayers: I don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist. But as Sen. Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship.

OBAMA: Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s campaign over the last 2 or 3 weeks. So let’s get the record straight. Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago. Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. Ten years ago he served and I served on a school reform board. Other members on that board were University presidents who happen to be a Republican. Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House. So that’s Mr. Ayers.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

FactCheck: Spoke at ACORN events, as well as court case

The Statement: Sen. Obama, discussing his connections to Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, said “the only involvement I’ve had with ACORN” was representing them in a voter registration case in Illinois.

The Facts:ACORN, a grass-roots community organizing group, faces allegations of filing fraudulent voter registrations in several states. Sen. John McCain, reflecting rising Republican concerns about ACORN, said at the debate “we need to know the full extent of Sen. Obama’s relationship with ACORN.“

While ACORN said Obama ”never organized with or worked for ACORN,“ it does mention other ties. Obama ”accepted two invitations to be an unpaid guest speaker at training for volunteer community leaders organized by Chicago ACORN“ in the early 1990s.

The Verdict:False. Obama’s legal work was his only professional tie to the group, but he also spoke at group events, and his campaign had a contract with a group that worked with ACORN.

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2008 third presidential debate Oct 15, 2008

My associates are Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker, & Sen. Lugar

McCAIN: Sen. Obama chooses to associate with a guy who in 2001 said that he wished he had have bombed more, and he had a long association with him. It’s the fact that all the details need to be known about Sen. Obama’s relationship with them and with ACORN.

OBAMA: Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden or wit Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO. Those are the people, Democrats and Republicans, who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House. And the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

Biden has knowledge, long career, and cares

Q: Why is your running mate better suited to become President?

OBAMA: Joe Biden is one of the finest public servants that has served in this country. It’s not just that he has some of the best foreign policy credentials of anybody. It’s also that he has never forgotten where he came from, fighting on behalf of working families, remembering what it’s like to see his father lose his job and go through a downward spiral economically.

McCAIN: Sarah Palin took on a governor who was a member of her own party when she ran for governor. When she was the head of their energy and natural resources board, she saw corruption, she resigned. She’s given money back to the taxpayers. She’s cut the size of government. She negotiated with the oil companies and faced them down.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

Ordinary people found the courage to keep the promise alive

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story--of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to. It is that promise that has always set this country apart--that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well. That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women--students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive. We meet at one of those defining moments--a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

The Ownership Society really means “you’re on your own”

Why would McCain define middle-class as someone making under $5,000,000 a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations & oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement? It’s not because McCain doesn’t care. It’s because McCain doesn’t get it. He’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy--give more to those with the most and hope prosperity trickles down to everyone else. They call it the Ownership Society, but what it really means is--you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps--even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own. Well, it’s time for them to own their failure.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Measure progress by observing how ordinary people are doing

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million ne jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President -- when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under Bush. We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job -- an economy that honors the dignity of work. The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great -- a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Our government must keep the promise of America

The promise of America says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect. It’s a promise that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but it should do what we cannot do for ourselves--protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology. Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work. That’s the promise of America--the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation. That’s the promise we need to keep.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Fulfilling America’s promise means individual participation

We must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need. Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility -- that’s the essence of America’s promise.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

To John McCain: We all put our country first

What I will not do is suggest that McCain take his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism. The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America--they have served the United States of America. So I’ve got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

The Republicans make a big election about small things

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing unwanted pregnancies. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the 2n Amendment while keeping AK-47s from criminals. There are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise--where we can find the strength and grace to bridg divides and unite in common effort. If you don’t have any fresh ideas, you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

The American promise is our greatest inheritance

Our country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities & our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the worl coming to our shores. It’s that American spirit--that American promise--that pushes us forward when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend. That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours--a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot. It is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner to stand together before Lincoln’s Memorial and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

We have to demand more from ourselves

We also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I’ve been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I’m not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn’t matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch--none of it will make any difference if we don’t seize more responsibility in our own lives. That’s how we’ll truly honor those who came before us. Because I know that Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown versus Board of Education so that some of us could stop doing our jobs as parents. And I know that nine little children did not walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere. That’s not the freedom they fought so hard to achieve. That’s not the America they gave so much to build. That’s not the dream they had for our children
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention Jul 12, 2008

I revere the American flag; I don’t refuse to wear flag pins

Q: I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen & policemen wear the flag. I want to know why you don’t.

A: I revere the American flag, and I would not be running for president if I did not revere this country. There’s no other country in which my story is even possible; somebody who was born to a teenage mom, raised by a single mother and grandparents from small towns in Kansas; who was able to get an education and rise to the point where I can run for the highest office in the land. I could not help but love this country for all that it’s given me. I did wear a flag pin yesertday when a veteran handed it to me, on behalf of disabled veterans. I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and distracts us from figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we make our economy better for the American people.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, refused to wear a flag pin, last year

Obama did a bit of historical rewriting regarding his previous statements on wearing a U.S. flag pin in his lapel. Obama said, “I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins.”

Actually, in Oct. 2007, he said, “I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I’m gonna try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.” In another interview, Obama said, “The truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.“

Conservative critics have attacked Obama repeatedly for these remarks and his lack of a flag pin. Recently, Obama accepted a lapel pin given to him a disabled Vietnam veteran. ”It means a lot coming from you,“ Obama said.

Source: FactCheck.org analysis of 2008 Philadelphia primary debate Apr 16, 2008

Actions can be seen in 20 years of my public service

Actions do speak louder than words, which is why over the 20 years of my public service I have acted a lot to provide health care to people who didn’t have it, to provide tax breaks to families that needed it, to reform a criminal justice system that had resulted in wrongful convictions, to open up our government and to pass the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate, to make sure that we create transparency to make sure that we create transparency in our government so that we know where federal spending is going and it’s not going to a bunch of boondoggles and earmarks that are wasting taxpayer money that could be spent on things like early childhood education. If you talk to those wounded warriors at Walter Reed who, prior to me getting to the Senate, were having to pay for their meals and have to pay for their phone calls to their family while they’re recovering from amputations, they’ve said that I’ve engaged not just in talk, but in action.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

Wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I was prepared

I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I was prepared to be commander-in-chief. My number one job as president will be to keep the American people safe. I will do whatever is required to accomplish that. I will not hesitate to act against those that would do America harm. That involves maintaining the strongest military on earth, which means that we are training our troops properly and equipping them properly, and putting them on proper rotations. There are an awful lot of families who have been burdened under two and three and four tours because of the poor planning of the current commander-in-chief, and that will end when I am president. It also means using our military wisely. On whether or not to go to war in Iraq, I showed the judgment of a commander-in-chief. Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that. That has significant consequences, because it has diverted attention from Afghanistan where al Qaeda, that killed 3,000 Americans, are stronger now than at any time since 2001.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

FactCheck: Ranked most liberal in Senate, based on 99 votes

Obama was asked about a recent ranking of senators by the National Journal that rated him the most liberal in 2007. He responded, “An example of why I was rated the most liberal was because I wanted an office of public integrity that stood outside of the Senate.”

Obama’s answer could mislead voters. Although we agree that rankings and labels sometimes don’t have much substance behind them, Obama cited just one of 99 Senate votes selected by National Journal’s reporters and editors for the study. The nonpartisan public policy magazine’s analysis was done according to a rigorous process the publication has been using since 1981. Most of the votes chosen had to do with the minimum wage, renewable energy, health insurance for children, immigration, embryonic stem cell research, and other issues on which it’s not too surprising to see a divide between liberals and conservatives. Clinton ranked 16th most liberal in the Senate

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Politico pre-Potomac Primary interview Feb 11, 2008

The Clinton years were undeniably better than the Bush years

Q: A lot of Democrats remember the eight years of the Clinton administration, a period of relative peace and prosperity, and they remember it fondly. Are they right?

A: There’s no doubt that there were good things that happened during those eight years of the Clinton administration. That’s undeniable. Particularly, when looked through the lens of the last eight years with Bush, they look even better. So I don’t want to diminish some of the accomplishments that occurred during those eight years.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday Jan 31, 2008

Turn the page on the failed politics & policies of the past

Tonight, for the seventh long year, the American people heard a State of the Union that didn’t reflect the America we see, and didn’t address the challenges we face. [We need] to turn the page on the failed politics and policies of the past, and change the status quo in Washington so we can finally start making progress for ordinary Americans. Tonight’s State of the Union was full of the same empty rhetoric the American people have come to expect from this President.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

Made the right decisions that were not politically popular

I opposed legislation that now is being used against me politically to make sure that juveniles were not put in the criminal justice system as adults, even though it was not the smart thing to do politically. It was not smart for me to oppose the war at the start of this war, but I did so because it was the right thing to do. Don’t question the fact that on issue after issue that is important to the American people, I haven’t simply followed, I have led.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Gave away all Rezko “boneheaded” donations to charity

Obama’s longtime relationship with a Syrian-born realtor, Antoin Rezko, has dented his image. Rezko, now under federal indictment for favor-trading and fraud, was one of Obama’s first funders, and over the years he contributed about $150,000 to Obama’s various campaigns. Obama’s law firm represented Rezko, and as a state legislator he recommended the developer for state housing grants that netted Rezko and a partner $855,000 in fees. Obama didn’t seem to notice that a number of Rezko buildings in his low-income district failed.

Obama has given all the Rezko money currently in his larder to charity, and he has called the land deal [he made with Rezko for Obama’s personal home] “boneheaded,” putting it down to anxieties about purchasing a first home (though his family had previously lived in a Hyde Park condo). No one has alleged that Obama did anything illegal, but his slip-sliding response to questions about Rezko suggests that, should he succeed, he will not drive every pig from the trough.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 74-76 Nov 11, 2007

2 years older than JFK when JFK ran for president

First and foremost, his detractors see him as a kid, which he is not. At forty-five, Obama is two years older than JFK when he ran for president, but he is widely regarded as too inexperienced to play the crucial role of commander in chief. The conservative commentator George Will writes that Obama would make the presidency an “entry level position.” To which he has replied: “Nobody had better Washington experience than Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld. If the criterion is how long you’ve been in Washington, then we should just go ahead and assign Joe Biden or Chris Dodd the nomination.“

Obama does give a youthful impression. Every time Obama advances a conciliatory idea it conspires with his juvenile appearance, and his deliberative streak can seem like indecisiveness.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 77-78 Nov 11, 2007

On “inexperience”: he wrote policy books that media ignores

The greatest barrier to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has been the attacks on his qualifications by the press. Over and over again, the media damned Obama as inexperienced. [One pundit writes], “He is young, the youngest in the field. He is very inexperienced compared to other candidates.” Another noted, “Obama’s biggest problem may not be that he’s black but that he’s green.”

The idea of Obama as inexperienced was not merely unproven but the opposite of truth. Since the details of Obama’s life have already been extensively covered in his own books, journalists have little new to do except trying to find holes in Obama’s story.

As Obama noted, “I’ve written two very detailed books that give people a pretty good window into my heart and soul. I’ve given policy speeches on just about every important issue.” It was the media that didn’t want to talk about policies, not Obama. Yet in the media spotlight, the horse race always prevails over policy debates.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 25-27 Oct 30, 2007

Don’t know if life beyond earth; focus on life here on earth

Q: The three astronauts of Apollo 11 who went to the moon back in 1969, all said that they believe there is life beyond Earth. Do you agree? A: I don’t know. I don’t presume to know. What I know is there is life here on Earth, and we’re not attending to life here on Earth. We’re not taking care of kids who are alive and not getting health care. We’re not taking care of senior citizens who are alive and are seeing their heating prices go up. As president, those are the people I will be attending to first
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Criticizes voter cynicism from decades of disappointment

At a DNC meeting, Obama said, “our rivals won’t be one another, and I would assert it won’t even be the other party. It’s going to be cynicism that we’re fighting against. It’s the cynicism that’s borne from decades of disappointment, amplified by talk radio and 24-hour news cycles, reinforced by the relentless pounding of negative ads that have become the staple of modern politics. It’s a cynicism that asks us to believe that our opponents are never just wrong; but they’re bad; that our motives in politics can never be pure, that they’re only driven by power and by greed; that the challenges we face today aren’t just daunting, but they’re impossible.“

According to Obama, ”With such cynicism, government doesn’t become a force of good, a means of giving people the opportunity to lead better lives; it just becomes an obstacle for people to get rid of. Too often, this cynicism makes us afraid to say what we believe.“

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 17 Oct 30, 2007

Voted with Democratic Party 96.0% of 251 votes.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), was scored by the Washington Post on the percentage of votes on which a lawmaker agrees with the position taken by a majority of his or her party members. The scores do not include missed votes. Their summary:
Voted with Democratic Party 96.0% of 251 votes.
Overall, Democrats voted with their party 88.4% of the time, and Republicans voted with their party 81.7% of the time (votes Jan. 8 through Sept. 8, 2007).
Source: Washington Post, “US Congress Votes Database” Sep 8, 2007

The Plan: Raise Obama’s profile, including African adventure

Obama’s journey to Africa had been planned since early 2005. It was one of the final pieces of The Plan, the two-year outline to keep Obama’s star rising and his political power at its highest ebb. The trip became the focus of enormous media attention.

Since Obama’s election to the US Senate, Kenyans had adopted him as one of their own, and his rapid ascent to political power in the US had made him a living folk hero in the East African nation, especially among his father’s native tribe, the Luo. A beer named for Obama had gone on the Kenyan market (Senator Beer); a school in rural Kenya was named in his honor; and a play based on his Dreams Memoir had been staged at the Kenyan National Theater.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.322-325 Aug 14, 2007

Assigned RFK’s Senate desk; invokes RFK regularly

Obama’s youth, energy, and idealism, not to mention his good looks, have inspired comparisons to JFK & RFK.

It is JFK’s younger brother who was a witty, eloquent, dashing, and politically progressive, 40-something freshman junior senator from a large northern industrial state when he ran for president in 1968, to whom Barack is most frequently compared. Bobby Kennedy, who sat at the same desk Obama was assigned when he first sat in the Senate chamber and who was sworn in on January 4, 1965, 40 years to the day before his political descendant, launched his quest as the electorate was despairing under the rising death count of a badly conceived and ill-defined, no-end-in-sight war.

When Obama invokes Kennedy, he sounds as if he could be reading a passage from his own book. “In a nation torn by war and divided against itself, he was able to look us in the eye and tell us that no matter... how persistent the poverty or the racism, no matter how far adrift America strayed, hope would come again.”

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 21-24 Feb 15, 2007

Convention speech understood country yearns for unity

Pro’s and Con’s: He gave the keynote at the 2004 Democratic convention

Pro: He was inspiring.

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America--there is the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America: there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who oppose the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.
Words that will be long remembered. It is hard to imagine writing a history of this period without referring to this speech because Obama did such a find job of capturing the spirit of national unity.
Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 17 Oct 17, 2006

Post-1960s politics more about moral attitude than issues

After the 1960s, liberalism and conservatism were defined in the popular imagination less by class than by attitude--the position you took toward the traditional culture and counterculture. What mattered was how you felt about sex, drugs, rock and roll, the Latin Mass or the Western canon. For white ethnic voters in the North and whites in the South, this new liberalism made little sense. The violence in the streets and the excuses for such violence in intellectual circles, blacks moving next door and white kids bused across town, the burning of flags and spitting on vets, all of it seemed to insult and diminish family, faith, flag, neighborhood, and for some at least, white privilege. And when, in the wake of assassinations and Vietnam, economic expansion gave way to gas lines, inflation and plant closings, and the best Jimmy Carter could suggest was turning down the thermostat, the New Deal coalition began looking for another political home.
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 28-29 Oct 1, 2006

Americans dislike partisanship--not solution like Dems think

Increasingly, the Democratic Party feels the need to match the Republican right in stridency and hardball tactics. The accepted wisdom something like this: The Republican Party has been able to win elections not by expanding its base but by vilifying Democrats, driving wedges into the electorate, energizing its right wing, and disciplining those who stray.

I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. For it is the predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face. It is what keeps us locked in “either/or” thinking: the notion that we can only have big government or no government; the assumption that we must either tolerate 46 million uninsured or embrace “socialized medicine.”

It is such partisanship that have turned Americans off. What is needed is a broad majority who are re-engaged and who see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interest of others.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 39-40 Oct 1, 2006

Enlist the American people in the process of self-government

Part of the change that’s desperately needed is to enlist the American people in the process of self-government. One of the areas that I have constantly worked on is not only pushing aside the special interests--this past year, passing the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate--but also making sure that the government is transparent and accountable. That’s what I think people were responding to in Iowa. They want somebody who’s talking straight to them about the choices that are ahead. They want to make sure that government is responding to them directly, because folks out there feel the American dream is slipping away. They are working harder for less. They are paying more for health care, for college, for gas at the pump. They are having a tougher time saving and retiring. What they don’t feel is that the government is listening to them and responding to them. That’s the kind of change that I think we need.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

Be strong or be clever and make peace

My stepfather Lolo said, “Men take advantage of weakness in other men. They’re just like countries in that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land. He makes the weak man work in his fields. If the weak man’s woman is pretty, the strong man will take her. Which would you rather be? Better to be strong. If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.”
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 37 Aug 1, 1996

Guilt is a luxury that not everyone can afford

My stepfather Lolo said, “Guilt is a luxury only foreigners can afford. Like saying whatever pops into your head.” Mother didn’t know what it was like to lose everything, to wake up and feel her belly eating itself. She didn’t know how crowded and treacherous the path to security could be. He was right, of course. She was a foreigner, middle-class and white and protected by her heredity whether she wanted protection or not. She could always leave if things got too messy. That possibility negated anything she might say to Lolo; it was the unreachable barrier between them.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 42 Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Campaign Themes

We’re more decent & compassionate than last 8 years

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this. This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work. Thi country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China. We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slid into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. To the American people across this great land: Enough! This moment, this election--is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. The same party that brought you two terms of Bush and Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

The destiny of all Americans is inextricably linked

The men & women who gathered there to listen to Martin Luther King could’ve heard many things. They could’ve heard words of anger and discord. They could’ve been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred. But what the people heard instead--people of every creed & color, from every walk of life--is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one. “We cannot walk alone,” the preacher cried. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.“ America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. Let us keep that promise--that American promise--and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

¡Sí, se puede! Yes, we can!

We can tear town the barriers that keep the American dream out of reach for so many Americans. We can make sure that the millions of Latinos who are uninsured get the same health care that I get as a member of Congress. We can improve our schools, recruit teachers to your communities, and make college affordable for anyone who wants to go. And we can finally start serving our brave Latino fighting men and women and all our soldiers as well as they are serving us. We can do all this. Sí se puede.

But I can’t do this on my own. I need your help. This election could well come down to how many Latinos turn out to vote. And I’m proud that my campaign is working hard to register more Latinos, and bring them into the political process. Because I truly believe that if we work together and fight together and stand together this fall, then you and I--together--will change this county and change this world.

Source: Obama & McCain back-to-back speeches at NALEO Jun 28, 2008

Key issue is McCain following Bush on war & economy

Q: On what three issues will this campaign turn to you?

A: Issue #1, how we’re going to keep America safe. John McCain has a vision that is very similar to George Bush’s. He wants to continue in Iraq on the current course. I believe that we need to begin a process of withdrawal, initiate tougher diplomacy and refocus our attention on Afghanistan. That’s going to be a set of issues.

On the economy. John McCain’s main economic platform is to continue the Bush tax cuts and then to add $300 billion worth of corporate tax breaks that aren’t paid for. And then, you know, I think that the American people are going to have to make some decisions about our personal qualities. Obviously, the presidency is more than just a set of talking points. It has to do with the American people lifting the hood and kicking the tires and seeing who do they trust, who do they think can lead us at this moment in history. And those are more intangible qualities, but, you know, those’ll play into this race as well.

Source: ABC News: 2008 election interview with Charlie Gibson Jun 4, 2008

This union may never be perfect, but can always be perfected

I would not be running for president if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation, the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.230 Mar 18, 2008

Go beyond the divisions so that the government can work

If we can’t inspire the American people to get involved in their government and if we can’t inspire them to go beyond the racial divisions and the religious divisions and the regional divisions that have plagued our politics for so long, then we will continue to see the kind of gridlock and nonperformance in Washington that is resulting in families suffering in very real ways. I’m running for president to start doing something about that suffering, and so are the people who are behind my campaign.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

Life experiences taught me how to bring people together

Q: I’m wondering if you will describe the moment that tested you the most, that moment of crisis.

A: What I look at is the trajectory of my life because I was raised by a single mom. My father left when I was two, and I was raised by my mother and my grandparents. There were rocky periods during my youth, when I made mistakes & was off course. And what was most important, in my life, was learning to take responsibility for not only my own actions but how I can bring people together to actually have a impact on the world. Working as a community organizer with ordinary people, bringing them together and organizing them to provide jobs and health care, economic security to people who didn’t have it, then working as a civil rights attorney to fight for those who were being discriminated against on the job. It’s the reason that I have the capacity to bring people together, and why I am determined to make sure that the American people get a government that is worthy of their decency and their generosity.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

People understand we must bring the country together

There is a fundamental difference between us in terms of how change comes about. Clinton of late has said: Let’s get real. The implication is that the people who’ve been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional. The 20 million people who’ve been paying attention to 19 debates and the editorial boards all across the country at newspapers who have given me endorsements, including every major newspaper here in the state of Texas. The thinking is that somehow, they’re being duped, and eventually they’re going to see the reality of things. They perceive reality of what’s going on in Washington very clearly. What they see is that if we don’t bring the country together, stop the endless bickering, actually focus on solutions and reduce the special interests that have dominated Washington, then we will not get anything done. The reason that this campaign has done so well is because people understand that it is not just a matter of putting forward policy positions.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

I have shown the right judgment to lead

I’ve heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. He ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 men, because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. As a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition, they didn’t have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped. That’s a consequence of bad judgment. On going into Iraq originally, I said this is going to distract us from Afghanistan, fan the flames of anti-American sentiment, and cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and overstretch our military. I was right. On the question of Pakistan, I’ve said very clearly that we have put all our eggs in the Musharraf basket. That was a mistake. We should be going after al Qaeda and making sure that Pakistan is serious about hunting down terrorists, as well as expanding democracy. I was right.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

Labels like “most liberal” prevent problem-solving

Q: You were ranked recently by National Journal as having the most liberal voting record in 2007.

A: Well, an example of why I was rated the most liberal was because I wanted an impartial office of public integrity. Now, I didn’t know that it was a Democratic issue. I thought that was a good government issue that a lot of Republicans would like to see. So that’s the problem with some of these ratings--how they score things. It uses categories that I think don’t make sense to a lot of Americans.

Q: Are you proud of that designation? To be known as the most liberal voting senator?

A: I don’t think you heard what I just said, which is that the designations don’t make sense. This is what I would call old politics. This is the stuff we’re trying to get rid of. Because the problem is, when we start breaking down into conservative & liberal, [that creates nothing but partisanship]. Those old categories don’t work, and they’re preventing us from solving them problems.

Source: 2008 Politico pre-Potomac Primary interview Feb 11, 2008

Overcome politics of demonizing opponents

Tonight was Pres. Bush’s last State of the Union, and I do not believe history will judge his administration kindly. But I also believe the failures of the last seven years stem not just from any single policy, but from a broken politics in Washington. A politics that says it’s ok to demonize your political opponents when we should be coming together to solve problems. A politics that puts Wall Street ahead of Main Street, ignoring the reality that our fates are intertwined. And a politics of fear and ideology instead of hope and common sense.

I believe a new kind of politics is possible, and I believe it is necessary. Because the American people can’t afford another four years without health care, decent wages, or an end to this war.

Imagine if next year, the entire nation had a president they could believe in. A president who rallied all Americans around a common purpose. That’s the kind of President we need in this country. And that’s the kind of President I will be.

Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

End politics of division; make it about addition

You know, they said this day would never come. You have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do. In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and in big cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents to stand up and say that we are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come.

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington, to end the political strategy that’s been all about division, and instead make it about addition, to build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation.

We’re choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.

Source: Speech after IA caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.203-4 Jan 3, 2008

We are choosing hope over fear

We are choosing hope over fear. You said the time has come to tell the lobbyists, who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices, that they don’t own this government. We do. And we are here to take it back.

The time has come for a president who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face, who will listen to you and learn from you even when we disagree, who won’t just tell you what you want to hear but what you need to know.

Source: Speech after Iowa caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.204 Jan 3, 2008

Hope is the bedrock of this nation

Years from now, you’ll look back and you’ll say that this was the moment--this was the place--where America remembered what it means to hope.

For many months we’ve been teased, even derided, for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.

Hope is what led me here today, with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation, the belief that our destiny will not be written for us but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.

Source: Speech after IA caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.206-7 Jan 3, 2008

If you join me I promise you we can change America

I am running for president because of what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now.” We have urgent problems but we’ve seen an administration that is adrift. The American people understand this urgency but they haven’t had the leadership to bring people together, overcome the special interests, and speak honestly about how we are going to solve these problems. I don’t want to wake up four years from now and find out that we got millions more young African American & Latino youth who are in prison as opposed to going to college. I don’t want to wake up & find out that we’ve got millions more Americans without health insurance. I don’t want to find out that we have not made more progress on jobs that pays a living wage. I am standing here because somebody somewhere at some point in time stood up when it was risky, stood up when it was hard, stood up when it wasn’t popular. We have to stand up on behalf of future generations. And if you join me I promise you we can change America.
Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Resounds with American theme of overcoming burden of history

Obama’s every quest is part of the artfully woven tale he calls his “journey.” Call it packaging, call it hype. But that saga of personal and political discovery is the most exciting narrative to emerge from the Democratic repertoire in many years. It is not a drama of rising from the meager expectations or a romance of courage under fire. Those are tropes of presidential theater, but Obama’s story is a more like an epic that resounds with a root American theme: overcoming the burden of history.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 48 Nov 11, 2007

Cultivates comparison to Jack Kennedy

Obama cultivates the comparison with JFK (another member of a formerly stigmatized group: Irish Catholics). It is possible that such a magical leader will signify a change in society broader than his platform would indicate. What Kennedy actually achieved was much less important than the forces he unleashed, and the same may be true of Obama. He is an icon of so many American dreams that he has only to move his long, lithe body and all eyes are on him.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 53-54 Nov 11, 2007

Campaigns assiduously in black churches

Obama is comfortable sounding churched, though that is something he had to learn. He grew up with a broad skeptical streak, but when he discovered that it was hard to organize poor people without sharing their faith he joined a congregation. Now he campaigns assiduously in black churches, delivering speeches that often focus on fatherhood & family. The black ministers he praises are not the likes of Jesse Jackson (who has been much kinder to him than Sharpton has), but preachers of personal uplift.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 61 Nov 11, 2007

Viral video “I Got a Crush on Obama” by Obama Girl

Ronnie Spector calls herself “Obama Girl.” Her You Tube video “I Got a Crush on Obama” has made her a true fifteen-minute sensation--and that might have been the point, since she told one interviewer that she hadn’t actually decided whether to vote for her man. It may be that she was retained by the same whiz kids in Obama’s camp who designed the viral that placed Hillary Clinton in a grim 1984 setting. Who can say? But whatever her provenance, Obama Girl has her laminate nails on the pulse of America, as she gleefully sings, “You’re into border security/Let’s break this border between you and me.” Inserting herself into a pec-ful photo of the O-Man in his swimming trunks, she declares: “You’re a lover who can fight/You can roar with me tonight.”
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 68 Nov 11, 2007

Community politics: merges Alinsky & political activism

Obama was influenced by Saul Alinsky. In his book, Rules for Radicals, Alinsky preached the idea of “agitation,” which meant “challenging people to scrape away habit.” But unlike Alinsky, who abandoned electoral politics in favor of community organizing, Obama realized the potential of politics to change people’s lives on a mass scale.

Obama’s vision of leadership is a merger between political activism and the community organizing. One might call it “community politics.” Community politics differs from community service, in which the more privileged members of society volunteer to help the poorer. As noble as that may be, it doesn’t create the kind of political empowerment sought by Obama. Instead, community politics aims to transform politics using the techniques of community organizing. Obama’s community organizing approach is to communicate with voters, listen to their suggestions, and convince them to buy in to a set of proposals.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 4 Oct 30, 2007

Apply lessons from both Goldwater and McGovern

Liberals embrace candidates who sound progressive because they run to the left for the primary and then to the right during the general election--and end up undermining any authority they might have. Obama has generally not played this game, and it is part of what makes him different.

Conservatives and liberals have learned different lessons from losing. In 1964, when Barry Goldwater was trounced by Johnson, it actually launched today’s conservative movement that culminated in the election of Reagan In 1972, when McGovern was trounced by Nixon, the progressive movement was dead. Democrats always avoided a progressive agenda. After the miserable failures of Gore and Kerry, progressives have argued that Democrats need to follow the conservative approach post-Goldwater and win by standing for something. Obama is trying to bridge these two approaches, to have integrity and progressive values, while simultaneously presenting a more centrist face that appeals across political boundaries.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.125 Oct 30, 2007

Invites supporters to join him on “This Improbable Quest”

On Feb. 10, 2007, Obama stood in front of cold fans in Springfield, Illinois to announce his presidential plans and invite them to join “this improbable quest.”

Obama’s campaign is improbable, but not because he is black and so little known nationally It seems improbable because it defies the political establishment. Obama is a candidate who urges bipartisanship, who calls for ethics reform and changes in the campaign finance systems, and who speaks in grand terms about transforming American politics.

Obama’s biggest flaw may be that he’s not audacious enough, that he holds his tongue to spare feelings. Obama thinks we need to restore faith in government and hope in the better nature of our fellow citizens. But sometimes he seems unwilling to trust the people enough to tell them what he really thinks. Or perhaps he just doesn’t trust the media to let him engage in honesty without destroying his campaign. Instead, Obama’s first instinct too often is to compromise to reach common ground.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.165 Oct 30, 2007

Resolve “most electable” vs.“most progressive” by being both

There is something satisfying about hearing an uncompromising voice for what you think is right. A noisemaker can draw attention to a problem, but it takes a leader to solve it. So the progressive movement needs both noisemakers & leaders. But we need to avoid the assumption that the noisemakers are the true progressives, & the leaders compromised sell-outs. Noisemakers are easier to find; it’s the leaders who are essential. The genius of Obama is his ability to pursue a progressive agenda in a bipartisa manner, to merge liberalism with practical politics.

For a long time, progressive have been forced in the Democratic primary to choose between pragmatism and idealism, between delectability and values. In 2004, many Democrats made the unfortunate choic of John Kerry over Howard Dean precisely because they though Dean couldn’t be elected. Obama offers an easy resolution to this program, by being both the most electable and the most progressive candidate among the leaders in the Democratic Party.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.166 Oct 30, 2007

Turn the page: invite GOP & independents to join in agenda

Q: You go around the country saying it’s time to turn the page. Are you talking about the Bushes, the Clintons or both?

A: What I’m talking about is ending the divisive politics that we have in this country. I think it is important for us as Democrats to be clear about what we stand for. But I think we also have to invite Republicans and independents to join us in a progressive agenda for universal health care, to make sure that they are included in conversations about improving our education system and properly funding our public schools. I think turning the page means that we’ve got to get over the special interest-driven politics that we’ve become accustomed to. And most importantly it’s important for us to make sure that we’re telling the truth to the American people about the choices we face.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Seen as both critical outsider and establishment insider

[His 2004 DNC speech established Obama as] an inspirational leader who could mend the various divisions within the country--racial, political, cultural, spiritual.

Movements to draft him to run for the presidency in 2008 would take hold on the Internet Not since the days of Jack & Bobby Kennedy had a politician captured so quickly the imagination of such a broad array of Americans. And even the Kennedy comparison would not characterize Obama’s fame properly. Not since Ronald Reagan had a politician bee so adept at sharing his own unwavering optimism with a disheartened electorate. Using the broad power of the modern media as his launching pad, Obama would plot a course that catapulted him from little-known state lawmaker to best-selling author to US Senator to national celebrity. A mixture of idealistic and pragmatist, Obama would move almost overnight from a critic of the established political system inside the Beltway to a player within that system. He would represent both outsider and insider.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 9 Aug 14, 2007

People have an urgent desire for change in Washington

Q: How are you going to be any different than the other candidates?

A: As I travel around the country, people have an urgent desire for change in Washington. We are not going to fix anything unless we change how business is done in Washington. Part of that is bringing people together. But part of it is also overcoming special interests & lobbyists who are writing legislation that’s critical to the American people. And one of the things I bring is a perspective that says: Washington has to change.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

A “hopemonger”, having seen the power of hope

Some of my more cynical friends in the media tease me from time to time because they say, he’s always talking about hope, he’s out there peddling hope again, he’s a hope-monger. I talk about hope because I’ve seen its power. I’ve seen the power of hope, the power of faith.

When I got to the Illinois State Senate, people said it was too hard to take on the issue of money in politics, our state had too long a history, too many entrenched interests. But I knew then that we had the people of Illinois on our side. I even found a few folks on the other side of the aisle who were willing to listen. And we passed the first major ethics reform legislation in 25 years.

I know that change is possible. I know where hope leads us. The only reason I’m standing here before you is because of hope. I know what’s possible in America. When I talk about hope, it isn’t just the rhetoric of a campaign; it’s been the cause of my life, a cause I will work for and fight for every single day as your president.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Washington can change if we say: Yes we can

When those voices start sounding the alarm that we can’t change Washington’s ways and start engaging in a serious debate about the serious times we face, just say those 3 words that have made America what it is today: Yes we can.

When they say that we can’t finally buy the radios [first responders] need to talk to one another in case of an emergency, we say, Yes we can.

When they say that we can’t bring [our troops] home from Iraq so they can do the job they love back home, we say, Yes we can.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC Mar 14, 2007

Replace partisan bickering with politics of hope

Obama called for universal health care, energy independence, an effective policy to stem global warming, and an end to loud and uncivil, Rush-Limbaugh-like public discourse. “We have come to be consumed by a 24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative-ad, bickering, small-minded politics that does not move us forward,” he said in Portsmouth, aiming his critique at both Republicans and his own party as they glowered across a gaping, ever-widening partisan gulf. “Sometimes one side is up, and the other side is down. But there is not sense that they are coming together in a common-sense, practical, nonideological way to solve the problems that we face.”
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 17-18 Feb 15, 2007

I’ve been in DC long enough to know that it must change

I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness--a certain audacity--to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
Source: Speech in Springfield, in Change We Can Believe In, p.195 Feb 10, 2007

Portrayed as a multiplier instead of a divider

Pro’s and Con’s: Portrayed as a multiplier instead of a divider

This neologism was coined by Robert McElvaine of the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger: “What America needs is a leader who practices the politics of multiplication rather than division. The person who has the greatest potential to be the Multiplier has just returned from a successful visit to Africa and will be speaking Sunday in Iowa: Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.”

Pro: America wants a president who will bring us together. The current partisan atmosphere is tiresome. McElvaine is right, we need a unifier.

Con: America voted for President who divided us. In 2004, the majority of us voted for arguably the most divisive president in history.

Pro: A multiplier is electable.

Con: An African-American Multiplier is not electable. McElvaine concedes that a significant fraction of the American electorate would vote against any black candidate.

Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 74-75 Oct 17, 2006

Progressives should recognize common morality with religion

The discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religiosity has often inhibited us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Our fear as progressives of getting “preachy” may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in addressing some of our most urgent social problems. After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness.

I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology. I am suggesting that perhaps if we progressives shed some of our own biases, we might recognize the values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We need to take faith seriously not simply to block the religious right but to engage all persons of faith in the larger project of American renewal.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.214-6 Oct 1, 2006

“Audacity of Hope” to change politics to reflect common good

[During the early part of my US Senate race], no blinding insights emerged from months of conversation. What struck me was how much of what they believed seemed to hold constant across race, region, religion, and class.

I told them that government couldn’t solve all their problems. But with a slight change in priorities we could make sure every child had a decent shot at life and meet the challenges we faced as a nation.

This book grows directly out of those conversations on the campaign trail. The ideals at the core of the American experience, and the values that bind us together despite our differences, remain alive in the hearts and minds of most Americans. The topic of this book is how we might begin the process of changing our politics and our civic life. I don’t know exactly how to do it. But I offer personal reflections on those values and ideals that have led me to public life, and myown best assessment of the ways we can ground our politics in the notion of a common good.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 7-9 Oct 1, 2006

Seek common ground, not a moral crusade

I came to Chicago 20 years ago to help communities that had been damaged by steel plants that had closed. I’ve worked 20 years to bring jobs to the unemployed. After law school, I worked as a civil rights attorney, helping to bring affordable housing and for the last 8 years I’ve worked as a state Senator. I’ve provided tax relief to those who needed it, health care to those who didn’t have it and helped to reform a death penalty system badly in need of repair. I accomplished these things by setting partisanship aside and seeking common ground. That’s what you, the people of Illinois have told me you want, someone who can reach out and find practical solutions. Now my opponent has a different track record. He is on a moral crusade and labels those who disagree with him as sinners. I don’t think that kind of talk is helpful. I think government works best when we focus on practical solutions for affordable health care and jobs, and working together, I’m certain we can accomplish all of these tasks.
Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes Oct 21, 2004

Offer real hope-not blind optimism-to the American people

I’m not talking about blind optimism-the willful ignorance that thinks unemployment or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope. That’s God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; a belief in things not seen; a belief that there are better days ahead. We can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. We can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

I’m living my parents’ dreams and the American dream

My parents shared an improbable love and an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or “blessed,” believing in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the bes schools in the land even they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters.
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Greatness based on Declaration of Independence, not military

I owe a debt to all of those who came before me. We gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over 200 years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.”
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

We are one people all defending the United States of America

The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. But I’ve got news for them. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states. There’re patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all defending the United States of America
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Want common-sense solutions, not liberal-conservative labels

I’m not somebody comfortable with liberal-conservative labels. What the American people are looking for are common-sense solutions. They want to get beyond a lot of slash-and-burn politics. One of the most encouraging things about Kerry’s campaign is the degree of hopefulness, reflected in his choice of vice president. This country remains the greatest on Earth, not because of the size of our military or the size of our economy, but because every child can actually achieve as much as they can dream.
Source: Meet The Press, NBC News Jul 25, 2004


Barack Obama on Past Campaigns

Campaigning on change from the bottom up that King stood for

Q: If Martin Luther King were alive today, why should he endorse you?

A: I don’t think Dr. King would endorse any of us. What he would call upon the American people to do is to hold us accountable, and this goes to the core differences in this campaign Change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Dr. King understood that. It was those women who were willing to walk instead of ride the bus, union workers who are willing to take on violence and intimidation to get the right to organize. It was women who decided, “I’m as smart as my husband. I’d better get the right to vote.” arguing, mobilizing, agitating, and ultimately forcing elected officials to be accountable, that’s the key. That has been a hallmark of my career, transparency and accountability, getting the American people involved. That’s how we’re going to bring about change. That’s why I want to be president of the US, to respect the power of the American people to bring about change.

Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Ran for Congress in 2000 & lost

He certainly is not a man of the Left. Obama gave money to Joseph Lieberman during his battle with progressive Ned Lamont (though, when Lamont won the Democratic primary, Obama endorsed him). He has a penchant for turning his back on progressives, and in 2000 he ran for the Congress against a former Black Panther--and lost.

As a US senator, he supported tort reform, voted against filibustering the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and backed the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorizatio Act. He favors capital punishment (though only in cases of “heinous” crime). He calls himself a strong supporter of reproductive rights, but in the Illinois legislature he voted present instead of yea on a number of bills concerning parental notification and late-term abortion.

On the stump now, he shies away from “social issues” unless he is speaking to a crowd that expects him to comment.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 65 Nov 11, 2007

1990: Elected Law Review president with conservative support

Obama’s most important experience and defining role at Harvard would be his tenure as a writer, editor and finally, president of the Harvard Law Review, the most influential legal publication in the country. It was hard for him to see the significance of this role at the time, but the Review presidency would provide him with his first lessons in managing both bitter electoral politics and the personal agendas of individual people.

The top job held little appeal for Obama. In 1990 the Review’s staff of about 75 students was riven by intense partisan feuding--large factions of liberals and small bands of conservatives. Obama was one of 19 editors who ran for presidency--after the last conservative was voted out of the competition, that faction threw its support behind Obama, tilting the election in his favor, and bestowing on him the honor of being the first African American to hold the presidency. Obama used some of his appointment power to place conservatives in key editorial positions.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 87-90 Aug 14, 2007

State Senate opponents disqualified on technicality

State senator Alice Palmer decided to run for Congress. Palmer was a progressive African American in the vein of Obama, & she threw her support behind Obama as her replacement.

Palmer lost the congressional primary contest in Nov. 2005 to Jesse Jackson Jr., and then quickly filed to run for her old seat in the March 2006 Democratic primary against Obama--even though she had publicly supported him for the seat.

Obama challenged the legality of her petitions, as well as the legality of petitions from several other candidates in the race. Palmer realized that Obama had called her hand, and she acknowledged that she had not properly acquired the necessary number of signatures. She had no choice but to withdraw from the race. The other opponents were also knocked off the ballot, leaving Obama running unopposed in the primary.

Rather than winning a position in the Illinois General Assembly by ousting an incumbent or taking an open seat, he appeared to have slipped in the back door on a technicality.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.108-110 Aug 14, 2007

Senate 2004 campaign theme: “Yes we can”

[The theme of Obama’s 2004 TV ads for Senate] was “Yes we can,” which implied many things depending on who was interpreting its meaning: [His campaign] framed this message primarily in terms of Obama’s barrier-breaking Harvard Law Review presidency (which whites had reacted to favorably in focus groups) and the landmark legislation that he passed in the Illinois senate.

“Now they say we can’t change Washington?” Obama asked in an earnest voice while stepping forward to fill the camera frame. “I’m Barack Obama and I am running for the US Senate to say, ‘Yes, we can.’ ”

Other commercials used the same “Yes, we can” mantra to appeal to different constituencies. Pollsters have consistently found that urban voters lean toward candidates who are change agents.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.229-230 Aug 14, 2007

2004: Won Senate seat against Alan Keyes, 70%-29%

Obama explained in The Audacity of Hope that Keyes’ attacks on Obama’s Christianity and Keyes’ readings of Scripture “put me on the defensive.”

“What could I say? That a literal reading of the Bible was folly?” Obama wrote. “I answered with the usual liberal response in such debates--that we live in a pluralistic society, that I can’t impose my religious views on another, that I was running to be the US Senator from Illinois and not the minister of Illinois. But even as I answered, I was mindful of Keyes’ implicit accusation--that I remain steeped in doubt, that my faith was adulterated, that I was not a true Christian.“

The rest of the way, Obama kept his head in the game and his hands off the porcupine. That November, in perhaps the most anticlimactic moment of Obama’s political ascension, he won the general election by the largest margin of victory in the history of Senate races in Illinois, defeating Keyes by a final tally of 70% to 29%.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.298-299 Aug 14, 2007

Lost Congressional primary in 1999 to Bobby Rush

Running to unseat Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther Party member and a four-term congressman who enjoyed wide popularity in his overwhelmingly black South Side district in Chicago, Obama endured thinly veiled suggestions that his light-colored skin, his Columbia University and Harvard Law School education, his work as a lawyer and constitutional law profession and his biracial lineage--no descendant of slaves, his father was a government official from Kenya, his mother a Kansas-born WASP--meant that he was elitist and not “black enough” to relate to the lives and needs of his constituents. Rush trounced him by a two-to-one-margin in the primary, and Obama retreated to his law practice at a small civil rights firm in Chicago that he had “left unattended during the campaign (a neglect that had left him more or less broke).”
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 27 Feb 15, 2007


Barack Obama on Personal History

Favorite movie: “The Godfather”, for respect & family

Q: What is your favorite movie of all time?

A: Obama: Oh, I think it would have to be “The Godfather.” One and Two. Three not so much. That saga--I love that movie.

Q: Do you have a favorite scene?

A: I think my favorite has to be, the opening scene of the first “Godfather” where, where the caretaker comes in and, you know, Marlon Brando is sitting there and he’s saying “you disrespected me.” You know “and now you want a favor.” It sets the tone for the whole movie.

Q: And all hell breaks lose, right?

A: Yeah, right. I mean there’s this combination of old world gentility and ritual, with this savagery underneath. It’s all about family. So it’s a great movie. “Lawrence of Arabia.” Great film. One of my favorites--and then “Casablanca.” Who doesn’t like “Casablanca?”

Q: I asked for one!

A: I’m a movie guy. I can rattle off a bunch of movies. But that “Casablanca,” you know.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric Sep 23, 2008

GovWatch: “Worked his way thru college” meant 2 summer jobs

Obama’s latest ad, “Dignity,” repeats an often-stated claim, saying he “worked his way through college and Harvard Law.” We know Obama took out loans to get himself through school. But the campaign provided information on just two jobs Obama had in those years, and they were both in the summer.

The only back-up the campaign provided for this claim was a quote from Obama’s book “Dreams from My Father“ having to do with a construction job he had one summer while he was in college, and an article mentioning his job as a summer associate one year at a big Chicago law firm. We asked a campaign spokesman if Obama held jobs during the school year, or other summer jobs, but he said only, ”He had the two jobs I told you about.“ Unless Obama had a good bit more employment than his spokesman was able to describe for us, it’s a real stretch to claim he ”worked his way“ through school.

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis Jul 2, 2008

In no other country is my story even possible

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived the Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during WWII and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America, and I’ve lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners, an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional of candidates. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts; that out of many, we are truly one.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.216-7 Mar 18, 2008

FactCheck: Took Rezko’s donations, but never represented him

Clinton reminded voters of Obama’s relationship with a longtime contributor who is now under federal indictment, saying Obama was “representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.” Obama responded that “I did about five hours worth of work” with Antoin Rezko.

According to an investigation last year, Antoin Rezko was involved in developing at least 30 low-income housing buildings. A number of the buildings fell into disrepair, collecting housing code violations, and Rezko was sued on many occasions. Obama was associated with a law firm that represented the community groups working with Rezko on several deals. There’s no evidence that Obama spent much time on them, and he never represented Rezko directly. So it was wrong for Clinton to say he was “representing Rezko.”

Obama has known Rezko, however, for many years, and Rezko has been a major contributor and campaign fundraiser for him since Obama’s first campaign for the Illinois state Senate.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Dem. Debate Jan 21, 2008

“Dreams From My Father” is an archetypal search

And then come the inevitable existential shock that strips away all illusion. We get an epiphany: we are alone, and our manhood pr womanhood requires that we stand alone and learn to interpret the world for ourselves.

Archetypal themes, if only metaphorically, point to eternal truths. Obama’s book “Dreams From My Father” chronicles his search for his father [who was mostly absent]. He necessarily becomes an obsession in ways that real and present fathers never do.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 18-21 Dec 4, 2007

Obama REPRESENTS something; doesn’t have to DO anything

Can a black ask for power without reassuring whites that they will be given the benefit of the doubt? Is real power possible for blacks without some negotiation?

What gave Obama the idea that he could run for president? Was it that he had evolved a compelling vision for the nation grounded in deeply held personal convictions? Or was it that he had simply become aware of his power to enthrall whites?

Obama is not a conviction politician. His supporters do not look to him to do something; they loo to him to be something, to represent something.

Obama emerged into a political culture that needed him more as an icon than as a man. But this easy appeal has also been his downfall. It is a seduction away from character and conviction.

The challenge is to achieve visibility an individual, to become an individual rather than a cipher. Unless we get to know who he is--what beliefs he would risk his life for--he could become a cautionary tale, an iconic figure who neglected to become himself.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.129&133-134 Dec 4, 2007

Won Grammy for recording “Dreams from My Father”

No politician of our time has a more compelling identity resume, as delineated in “Dreams from My Father.” If nothing else, this deeply affecting book, published in 1995, when he was beginning to consider running for office, positions Obama as the most literary politician since... since when? (He is also the first presidential candidate to win a Grammy, for his recording of the book).

As an image-building tool, “Dreams from My Father” has been remarkably effective. But it is too unorthodox to serve as a press release. Not only are there damning references to coke sniffing and dope smoking, but the book also offers a detailed account of his gnawing ambivalence as a young man growing up in a double bind.

When he embarks for Kenya to meet his African family he sees himself as “a Westerner not entirely at home in the West, an African on his way to a land full of strangers... I felt as if I were living out someone else’s romance.”

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 63 Nov 11, 2007

Real estate deal with felon was “boneheaded” but ethical

When Obama bought a new house and then purchased a small part of the next door lot from a contributor named Tony Rezko in 2006, he was caught up in the backlash a few months later when Rezko was indicted on corruption charges. Rezko had discovered the lot next door to the house Obama was eyeing was for sale by the same owner, and he bought it the same day the Obamas closed on their home.

[After accusations of an unethical deal, press investigations showed that], Obama paid fair market value for his portion of the land [as did Rezko]. Rezko was indicted for fraud [unrelated to real estate], but at the time Obama bought his house, there was no public indication of Rezko’s problems.

Obama declared, “I am the first to acknowledge that it was a boneheaded move for me to purchase from Rezko.” Despite all the rumors about Obama and Rezko, none of the evidence indicated any wrongdoing. The mistake Obama made was to have any dealings at all that would give the appearance of impropriety.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 31-36 Oct 30, 2007

First major politician of the post-Baby Boom generation

Obama says he looks at “some issues differently as a consequence of being of a slightly different generation,” but there is no strong generational identity in the wake of the boomers, and what Obama calls for is not so much a repudiation of the 1960s generation as a fulfillment of some of its ideals.

Obama suggested he may have “a particular ability to bring the country together around a pragmatic, commonsense agenda for change that probably has a generational element to it as well. America is ready for new challenges. This is our time. A new generation is prepared to lead.“ He promised a new kind of politics instead of the ”24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative-ad bickering, small-minded politics that doesn’t move us forward.“

As the first major politician of the post-baby boomer era, Obama appeals to Gen-Xers who have lived in the shadow of baby boomers and have faced the accusation that those who grew up in the 1970s & early 1980s were self-centered and indifferent to social causes

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 2 Oct 30, 2007

Most decisive moment: transition from high school to college

Q: Presidential biographers are always looking at the turning point in a life, the moment where an ordinary person went on the path to the presidency, the decisive moment. What’s the decisive moment in your life?

A: A decisive moment in my life was the transition from high school to college, because I had gone through a difficult time, not knowing my father, and was, at times, an angry young man. And partly because of the values my mother had instilled in me, those were reawakened in college. And it made me serious about, not just what I could do for myself, but what I could do for other people. It’s what led me to become a community organizer. It’s what led me to go into public service. And ultimately, it’s what led me to this stage.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

High school jock--played football as defensive lineman

[A school friend] said Obama was much larger than most of his peers. Indeed, photos of him in his high school yearbook show a much heavier boy

As a high school freshman, he played defensive line on the football team and was described as a strong lineman, “a real people mover.”

Even with his mother gone, [his grandmother] Madelyn said, Barry was essentially a well-behaved teen who spent most of his time involved in sports. “He was a jock,” she said.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 42-43 Aug 14, 2007

Goal as youth: Leave the world a better place

Obama’s maternal grandmother said, “when he was a young man, I asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said, ‘I want to leave the world a better place than when I came in.’ And I believe that has been his guiding light.”

Obama, without argument, is imbued with an abiding sense of social and economic justice. He is an earnest, thoughtful, occasionally naive man who has a strong sense of moral purpose, a trait driven into him by his ardently progressive mother.

But Obama is far more complex than just a crusading dreamer aiming to “give voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless,” in his own oft-spoken words. He is an exceptionally gifted politician who, throughout his life, has been able to make people o

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 6 Aug 14, 2007

Planned on presidency since well before 2004 Convention

He’s always wanted to be president, a close friend of Obama’s, would confide shortly after his 200 Boston Convention speech. “And I’m not sure that he’s even still fully admitted it to himself.” The journey toward that admission finally arrived while he vacationed in his native Hawaii in December 2006.

In just a couple of years, he rose from obscure state lawmaker to national celebrity pursued by paparazzi on his family vacation. He struggled through a self-described “painful year” of just 3 or 4 hours of sleep per night in order to write a best-selling book that would assure his family’s financial security & nurture his burgeoning political career. He would be discussed endlessly in the mainstream and alternative media as potentially the first African American to hold the Oval Office. He became a prideful and iconic symbol for millions of black Americans; and he would secure his role as a major national voice for Democrats.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 6 Aug 14, 2007

Dreams from My Father originally about Harvard Law Review

Obama’s book, originally published in 1995, was called Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.“ As the title suggests, the book chronicled Obama’s life & search for identity in relation to his East African father.

This wasn’t the book Obama originally sold to his publisher. He had pitched them a work about his experience as the first African-American president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. After all, at the time, Obama was a modest 33 years old, and his Law Review presidency was his only claim to any modicum of fame.

When Obama began writing, an autobiographical memoir poured forth. Upon its release in 1995, the book sold a few thousand copies, generated mostly positive reviews, and then it faded into obscurity.

That changed dramatically when Obama shot to national fame in 2004. The publisher quickly ran off several new printings, promoted it vigorously, and the book landed on the best-seller lists, giving Obama the first shot of financial wealth in his life.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 14-15 Aug 14, 2007

Favorite authors: E. L. Doctorow & Shakespeare

Obama began reading voraciously in college. He had harbored some thoughts of writing fiction as an avocation, although it’s an open question whether he seriously considered fiction writing as a full-time profession. Obama himself said he never dabbled in fiction, but others dispute that.

When I asked Obama to name his favorite author, he cited E. L. Doctorow, the critically acclaimed novelist and outspoken political liberal. The next day, during a phone conversation on a different matter, he made it a point to say that he wanted to change his answer--to William Shakespeare.

Some politicians are infamous for casually mentioning high-minded work that is currently on their nightstand in order to give the impression of being a deep thinker. It is difficult to imagine most politicians digesting Shakespeare before extinguishing the bedroom light. Yet Obama’s erudite nature and his own ambitious writings made that answer seem quite plausible.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 15 Aug 14, 2007

To understand Obama, understand Hawaii’s cultural mix

Obama’s wife, Michelle, advised me, “There’s still a great deal of Hawaii in Barack,” she said. “You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii.” In fact, the Obamas still make an annual sojourn to Honolulu every Christmas season.

Hawaii’s has grown considerably since Obama’s youth, but the essence of the islands’ mix of various Asian, Polynesian and Western cultures has persevered. Meeting Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, in Hawaii, opened my eyes to Obama’s formative years. The atmosphere of [Obama’s school] campus gave me a sense of the unflappable Hawaiian nature at Obama’s core.

The night of his Senate primary victory, for example, reporters marveled curiously at Obama’s exceptionally cool exterior as others around him exhibited jubilation. One of Obama’s greatest talents is that, even in the midst of chaos, he has the ability to project serenity. Hawaii, if not fully responsible, most certainly contributed heavily to this trait.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 20-21&37 Aug 14, 2007

Father was first African exchange student at U. Hawaii

Obama’s father was the first African exchange student at the University of Hawaii. After studying in London, he arrived in the US in 1959 in “the first large wave of Africans being sent forth to master Western technology and bring it back to forge a new, modern Africa,” Obama wrote.

Obama’s father was the son of Hussein Onyango Obama, a prominent farmer in Kenya’s Luo tribe. As a boy, Barack Sr. herded goats on the family farm near a poor village called Kolego near Kenya’s Lake Victoria. He stood out academically in a local school established by the British colonizers and won a scholarship & then a sponsorship for study at the University of Hawaii.

But when he came to America, his father left a pregnant wife and child back in Kenya. When he returne to Africa, he took another American woman with him, eventually marrying her and having two additional children. An atheist with an analytical mind, he worked for a petroleum company, and for a time he was a chief economist for the Kenyan government.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 29-30 Aug 14, 2007

Met Michelle Robinson at law firm; married in 1990

Barack Obama seemed to know almost immediately upon meeting Michelle Robinson that she was his choice for a spouse; the young Miss Robinson was far less sure about her future husband.

She thought it would be improper to date an employee she was assigned to train. In addition, they were the only two African Americans at the law firm. “I thought, ‘Now how would that look?’ ” Michelle said. “Here we are, the only two black people here, and we are dating. I’m thinking that looks pretty tacky.”

Michelle tried to set up Obama with a friend, but he showed no interest in anyone but her. Eventually, she relented and agreed to a date. When Obama married Michelle in 1990, he also married into her budding network among Chicago’s community of successful white-collar African Americans.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 93-94&102 Aug 14, 2007

A reformed smoker but occasionally burns one

I’m a reformed smoker; I think that surprises people. I quit, but then during the campaign, when you’re in a car driving through cornfields, occasionally I bum a cigarette or two. But I did all my drinking in high school and college. I was a wild man. I did drugs and drank and partied. But I got all my ya-yas out.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 23 Mar 27, 2007

Traces ancestry to Jefferson Davis, President of Confederacy

In 1959, Obama’s father became the first African student at the University of Hawaii. There, Barack the elder, who, his son would write, was “black as pitch,” met a cheerful 18-year-old freshman who was in contrast “white as milk.”

Ann Dunham was the Kansas-born daughter of a furniture store manager who harbored a bohemian streak. Ann’s mother traced a branch of her family lineage to a famous ancestor-- Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.

The Dunhams moved to the islands in 1960. The two began dating and after a brief courtship, wed--an act that in 1960 was a crime in most states. Newly admitted to the Union, however, Hawaii was young and relatively tolerant, and the family history includes no accounts of Obama’s parents suffering abuse on the streets of Honolulu.

His father later earned his PhD from Harvard, but separated from Ann. He returned, alone, to Kenya, where he became an economist in the administration of the new nation.

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 43-44 Feb 15, 2007

Personal story is basis of political desire to unite

Obama’s story--of how, as he likes to say, “a tall, skinny kid with big ears,” who came from nowhere in the continental US, who grew up in Hawaii, forever an outsider, a black kid abandoned at age two by his father, and, for long periods, his mother, raised by her parents in a white neighborhood and looked at askance by all of a more definable hue and tribe, who struggled mightily to find an identity and purpose in life, who never really got to know his father until he was in his 20s and stood by his unmarked grave in a dusty African village, has risen to become a candidate for president and a voice whose call for a union undivided by liberal and conservative, red state and blue, or black and white, springs from his own struggles to find a way to united his own divided heart--seems all the more unlikely.
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 34 Feb 15, 2007

Greeted as hero on visit to ancestral Kenya

Rapturous crowds of Kenyans wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his name and likeness changed “Come to us, Obama!” as he visited a memorial at the site of the US embassy bombing in Nairobi.

Obama and his family flew to Kisumu where 1000s lined the route, many climbing trees for a better view of the motorcade carrying the American that the local Luo tribespeople loudly claimed as their own.

In Kogelo, the tiny village where Obama’s father and grandfather are buried side by side and where the octogenarian Luo he calls “Granny” still lives, crowds chanted his name, a tribal singer sang his praises, and children sang songs they had composed in his honor.

“Even though I had grown up on the other side of the world, I felt the spirit among the people who told me that I belonged.”

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 39 Feb 15, 2007

Father died in car crash before Barack got to know him

Obama’s mother was pleased to learn he planned to visit Kenya [as a young adult, to visit his father]. “I think it will be wonderful for you two to get to know each other,” she said and went on to share her memories including a story about how he was an hour late for their first date.

The way she told the story, he saw the depth of her enduring love for his father. Even though he had left her with a baby to raise, she loved him. “She saw my father as everyone hopes at least one other person might see them.“

Any hope of that appeared to end just a few months later when he received a telephone call from Nairobi. His father had been killed in a car crash. He was 46. His son did not shed a tear.

[Years later, when visiting Kenya], Obama stood before his father’s unmarked grave. He felt he knew and understood and forgave his father for the first time. His father had not succumbed to despair. He had had the audacity to hope. And for the first time, his son wept for him.

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 62&71 Feb 15, 2007

Moved to Illinois as community organizer, for $13,000 a year

I moved to Illinois over two decades ago. I was a young man then, just a year out of college; I knew no one in Chicago, was without money or family connections. But a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for $13,000 a year. And I accepted the job, sight unseen, motivated then by a single, simple, powerful idea--that I might play a small part in building a better America.

My work took me to some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. I joined with pastors and lay-people to deal with communities that had been ravaged by plant closings. I saw that the problems people faced weren’t simply local in nature--that the decision to close a steel mill was made by distant executives; or that the lack of textbooks and computers in schools could be traced to the skewed priorities of politicians a thousand miles away.

It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.

Source: Speech in Springfield, in Change We Can Believe In, p.193-4 Feb 10, 2007

Born in Hawaii; lives on Chicago’s South Side

Obama is the father of two daughters, Malia, 7 and Sasha, 4. Obama and his wife, Michelle, married in 1992 and live on Chicago’s South Side where they attend Trinity United Church of Christ.

Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961, in Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. Obama graduated from Columbia University in 1983, and moved to Chicago in 1985 to work for a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment.

Source: PAC website, HopeFundAmerica.com, “About Barack” Nov 17, 2006

Full name: Barack Hussein Obama; family calls him “Barry”

Obama says, “The original assumption is that I could never win an election statewide with a name like Barack Obama. I actually write in AUDACITY OF HOPE about a political consultant who had been interested in me running statewide who met with me right after 9/11 and said, ‘There is a picture of Osama bin Laden on the magazine cover. This is bad for you.’”

Con: let’s face it, having a name that rhymes with “Iraq” is not a plus.

Pro: “Barack” is a cool name. Parents all over the US spend hours and days searching for distinctive names for their little princes. “Barack” is a less annoying than “LaTreyell.”

Con: The guy shares a name with Saddam Hussein. This is not helpful. Inspired by his Muslim grandfather.

Pro: This should help him with Arab-American voters.

Con: “Obama” is a weird name.

Pro: “Obama” is a cool Kenyan name..

Pro: His family calls him “Barry.” “Barry” sounds reassuringly normal. “Barry” sounds like he is “one of us”: it sounds like he belongs to America, not Kenya

Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 3-4 Oct 17, 2006

First black president of the Harvard Law Review

Obama, a law professor and state senator, has widespread appeal and a compelling story: His father was a member of Kenya’s Luo tribe, born on the shores of Lake Victoria. He met Obama’s mother, who was white, when both were students at the University of Hawaii.

When Obama was 2, his father left the family, returning to Kenya, where he eventually became a senior economist in the Ministry of Finance. Obama graduated from Columbia University in New York, and received his law degree from Harvard Law School. He became the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

He worked as a community organizer in New York and Chicago on job-training programs and other projects, and as a civil rights lawyer. He is now a senior instructor in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Source: Associated Press in Boston Herald Jul 14, 2004

Poverty of political organizers was proof of their integrity

In the months leading up to graduation, I wrote to every civil rights organization I could think of, to any black elected official in the country with a progressive agenda, to neighborhood councils & tenant rights groups. When no one wrote back, I wasn’t discouraged. I decided to find more conventional work for a year, to pay off my student loans and maybe even save a little bit. I would need the money later, I told myself. Organizers didn’t make any money; their poverty was proof of their integrity.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.125 Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Racism & Race

Taking a black candidate for granted is measure of progress

Q: What did your daughters say to you [upon Hillary’s concession]? Did they take it as a matter of course that Daddy could be nominated to be president? They never knew what older people know in terms of discrimination.

A: Well, Michelle had a conversation with Malia, who’s our 9-year-old. Michelle said, “You know, Daddy’s about to be nominated for the presidency, and he’ll be the first African American ever to have that happen.” And Malia said, “Well, that doesn’t surprise me. I’ve read these histories about how blacks were discriminated against with slavery and Jim Crow,“ and she sort of ticked it off. But you could tell that there wasn’t that emotional impact on her because she has grown up in this environment where she can take it for granted. And the fact that they’re taking it for granted is a measure of progress in our country. It says something really good about America. It’s a testament to this country’s urge to live up to its ideals, as imperfectly as that is sometimes.

Source: ABC News: 2008 election interview with Charlie Gibson Jun 4, 2008

Rev. Wright and flag pins re distractions from real issues

Q: You say a lot of this stuff--Rev. Wright, flag pins--are distractions from the real issues. But for someone like you, who’s a newcomer to the national scene, don’t voters have a legitimate interest in who you are and what your values are?

A: Absolutely. And so the question becomes, how do voters draw conclusions about my values? Do they look at the 20 years in which I have devoted my life to community service? Do they look at how I’ve raised my children? That’s a reflection of my values. I don’t think that the issue of Rev. Wright is illegitimate. I just think that the way it was reported was not a reflection of both that church that I attend and who I am. On flag pins, you know, I’ve worn flag pins in the past. I will wear flag pins in the future. The fact that I said that some politicians use flag pins and then aren’t acting in a particularly patriotic way, for that to somehow be translated into me being antipatriotic or antiflag--I think that is a distraction

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: presidential series Apr 27, 2008

FactCheck: William Ayres never killed anyone with bombs

Clinton exaggerated the violence committed by an Obama acquaintance who had been part of a radical group in the 1960s and 1970s and who refused to apologize for setting bombs. Clinton said, “Sen. Obama served on a board with Mr. William Ayers for a perio of time. And Mr. Ayers... said that he was just sorry they hadn’t done more. And what they did was set bombs and in some instances people died.”

In fact, nobody died as a result of bombings in which Ayers said he participated as part of the Weather Underground. Other members were associated with 5 deaths, but none in which Ayres was present.

Ayers did say “I don’t regret setting bombs” and “I feel we didn’t do enough” regarding the group’s violent protests against the Vietnam War. That was in a NY Times interview that was published the morning of September 11, 2001. Ayers is now a professor of education in Chicago. Obama and Ayers served together for a time on the board of an antipoverty charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, from 1999 to 2002.

Source: FactCheck.org analysis of 2008 Philadelphia primary debate Apr 16, 2008

This candidacy is not just an exercise in affirmative action

In the last couple of weeks the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely o the desire of wild and wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation, and that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy and, in some cases, pain. For some, nagging questions remain.

Rev. Wright’s comments were not only wrong, but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve problems that confront us all.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.218 Mar 18, 2008

We’ve never really worked through complexities of race

Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America: to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through--a part of our union that we have not yet made perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care or education or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.222 Mar 18, 2008

Working together we can move beyond some old racial wounds

We’ve been stuck for years in a racial stalemate. And contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle or with a single candidate, particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction, a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people, that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.226-7 Mar 18, 2008

Intertwined search for father and racial identity

When Barack Obama is called a “Halfrican,” the point is not simply that he comes from a mixed-race background; it is also that he is a kind of phony, a pretender to blackness. For racially mixed blacks, the search for “authentic” blackness is also a search for personal credibility and legitimacy. Our era of intense identity politics means that such people live under a permanent accusation of inauthenticity.
Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 26-28 Dec 4, 2007

A Bound Man: inner turmoil of 1960s black nationalism

he should long for one. The absent black father, the mixed-race background, the privileged education--all this makes for a kind of identity vacuum. There will be parts of himself that he will not be able to take with him into the black identity he longs for. Barack writes, “If nationalism could deliver on its promise of self-respect, then the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence.”
Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 37-39 Dec 4, 2007

Rooted in African-American community but also more than that

[Obama’s racial] vulnerability was probed in a “60 Minutes” interview near the launching of his presidential campaign. There was an allusion to the mixed-race background and a question how Obama saw himself.

He was “rooted,” he said, in the African- American community, but he was also “more than that.” This is the formulation of a man with a complex identity trying to make himself more recognizable to a society not used to pondering his like. Yet, this is also a formulation that reduces Obama’s identity to a banality. What could “rooted” or “more than that” mean? For that matter, what could “African-American community” really mean? A culture? A politics?

To become recognizable, he processes himself through the same dumb racial math-- he is one thing plus something else--that has been the source of his vulnerability. He collaborates with the racial conventions that made him an odd man out. Yet a great part of Obama’s appeal in broader America can be chalked up to his complex identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 6-7 Dec 4, 2007

Embodies smothering racial power in individual democracy

Obama is a living rebuke to both racism and racialism, to both segregation and identity politics, to any form of collective chauvinism. For all his misfittedness, he also embodies a great and noble human aspiration: to smother racial power in a democracy of individuals.

It doesn’t matter that he sometimes goes along with race-based policies, or that he made his own Faustian bargain with affirmative action. No one is excited because Obama nods to identity politics; people are excited because he represents an idealism that opposes such politics. Any black who takes on the near-absolute visibility that goes with seeking such high office will function as both a man and a symbol, and sometimes the two will be at odds. So it is not surprising that Obama the man may vary a bit from Obama the symbol.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 8 Dec 4, 2007

More influenced by his race than public perceives

The issue of race--so nicely contained and deactivated in the Barack Obama political persona--is very much alive within the man. Black identity has been a lifelong preoccupation. By the surface facts of his life--the mixed race background, the childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia--it would be easy to assume that he might be indifferent to the whole business of race and identity. There is a tendency to see Obama as a kind of “new man,” someone spared the fate of being simply black or white in America.

But Obama is not such a person. His books show a man driven by a determination to be black, as if blackness were more an achievement than a birthright. And this need within him puts Obama at odds with himself. His plausibility as a candidate comes, in part, from the perception that he is not driven to be black, that he is rather lightly tethered to his race. But the very arc of his life has been greatly influenced by an often conscious resolve to belong irrefutably to the black identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 17-18 Dec 4, 2007

In college, rejected multiracialism for black identity

Joyce was a woman Obama encounters in college just as his is launching an all-out crusade to realize his black identity. Like Obama, Joyce is from a mixed-race background. Obama asks her if she is going to a Black Student Association meeting. She looks at him and then says, “I am not black. I’m multi-racial.”

Joyce opposes blackness out of the same determination to claim an identity that drives Obama to embrace blackness. Obama is determined to distance himself from her & his own mainstream American past. Joyce represents a remarkable new option in American life. Joyce says that whites are “willing to treat me like a person.” Blacks are “the ones who are telling me I can’t be who I am.”

Joyce is Obama’s troublesome doppelganger as he grinds through the self-betrayals that help him belong to blackness. What you want, she murmurs--the chance to be yourself, self-acceptance--is not with blackness; it is in the same mainstream you came from.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 45-48 Dec 4, 2007

Whites sense that Barack grants them “benefit of the doubt”

[In “Dreams From My Father,”] Obama says, “Sometimes I would find myself talking [with friend] Ray about white folks this & white folks that, and I would suddenly remember my mother’s smile and the words I spoke would seem awkward.”

“White folks” is a term that shames Obama. It is bigotry because it paints all whites with the same brush. He has to give whites their innocence until they prove unworthy of it. That is what white Americans sense in Barack Obama. On pain of his own integrity, he cannot be challenger.

Challengers, like Obama’s black friend Ray, deprive whites of their racial innocence until they do something to earn it.

Challengers [like Al Sharpton] have come to play an unexpected role in the Obama saga. It is precisely against the specter of an Al Sharpton that a Barack Obama looks so “fresh” and “appealing.” Sharpton makes the point--better than Obama’s most savvy speechwriter could--that Obama is a black man for all people, a black man who gives whites “the benefit of the doubt.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.103-104 Dec 4, 2007

Fans see Obama as opportunity to vote for redemption

The first binding reality for Obama is that his cachet is tied to his status as an iconic Negro. The disciplines of bargaining are a basic element of Obama’s policies. He labors to sell himself as an “optimistic sign from the racial front,” as a harbinge of a new America in which the old divisions of race are transcended. As one fan put it at a recent rally, he is “the guy America is waiting for.” So, you don’t vote for Obama because of his policy positions on health care and school subsidies; he is an opportunity to vote for American redemption.

Obama is bound to the antiresponsibility political left because his fate depends on his ability to offer innocence to whites--this despite the fact that he clearly seems to accept the importance of individual responsibility in social reform. Yet he offers no thinking on how to build incentives to responsibility into actual social policy.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.116-117 Dec 4, 2007

Bradley effect: black candidates poll above actual votes

Analysts are skeptical whether people are telling the truth when they say they would support a black candidate. It’s called the “Bradley effect”: It occurs when racist whites vote against black candidates even though they tell pollsters the opposite. The term “Bradley effect” comes from the 1982 election, when Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, an African American, narrowly lost his reelection despite polls that showed a lead. [That effect was repeated in David Dinkins’ race for NYC mayor, and Douglas Wilder’s race for VA Governor].

Is the Bradley effect history? A 1958 poll found that 53% of Americans admitted they would not vote for a black presidential candidate. In 2003, only 6% said they would not vote for a black president. The people who voted against Bradley, Wilder, and Dinkins despite telling pollsters the opposite were those who, in the abstract, were racist toward black candidates. But in generational terms, openly racist voters have mostly died off.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 88-89 Oct 30, 2007

Veiled racism in dismissing Obama as “unqualified”

There’s a veiled racism in some of the claims that Obama isn’t qualified to be president. It’s something African-Americans are accustomed to hearing from less-qualified whites who think the black guy is getting the attention and the applause because of his race.

One pundit wrote: “There is nothing he can do to address his major shortcoming: the absence on his resume of the kind of major achievement that qualifies a person for the White House.” Of course, Obama has many achievements, and it is hard to find a major achievement of most senators running for president.

Obama’s experiences challenge the conventional wisdom of the establishment. Obama is a different kind of outsider. He is an outsider accustomed to working with legislators from the other party, and an outsider committed to pragmatic solutions.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 50-51 Oct 30, 2007

Catching a cab, no one questions he’s “authentically black”

Q: Editorials about you never fail to mention the issue of race, that you’re not authentically black enough. How will you address these critics?

A: You know, when I’m catching a cab in Manhattan--in the past, I think I’ve given my credentials. But let me go to the broader issue here. And that is that race permeates our society. It is still a critical problem. But I do believe in the core decency of the American people, and I think they want to get beyond some of our racial divisions. Unfortunately, we’ve had a White House that hasn’t invested in the kinds of steps that have to be done to overcome the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in this country. And as president, my commitment on issues like education, my commitment on issues like health care is to close the disparities and the gaps, because that’s what’s really going to solve the race problem in this country.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Issue of race has given Senate a black eye

When you think of the history of the Senate, what is striking is the degree to which this institution has single handedly blocked the progress of African Americans for much of our history. That’s a sad testament to our institution. It’s a stain on the institution.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p.149 Mar 27, 2007

Convention keynote speech highlights party’s black targeting

The man who could become the third black senator since Reconstruction will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Obama, a law professor and state senator, will speak on July 27, the second night of the convention, with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Obama will talk about the future of America that a Democratic administration would provide, along with the need to make jobs, families and communities top priorities in the lives of Americans.

The announcement from the Kerry campaign came on the same day that the Democrat launched $2 million worth of ads for television, radio and newspapers targeting black voters. Democrats handily won the black vote in 2000 by a 9-to-1 margin, and the party and Kerry campaign want to boost that turnout this November.

Obama’s Republican opponent Jack Ryan dropped out last month over embarrassing allegations in his divorce papers. The GOP’s top choices have refused to run, sending Republicans scrambling to line up opposition.

Source: Associated Press in Boston Herald Jul 14, 2004

America’s race and class problems are intertwined

Whether because of New York’s density or because of its scale, it was only [there] that I began to grasp the almost mathematical precision with which America’s race and class problems joined; the bile that flowed freely not just out on the streets but in the stalls of Columbia’s bathrooms as well, where, no matter how many times the administration tried to paint them over, the walls remained scratched with blunt correspondence between niggers and kikes.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.254 Aug 1, 1996

There is some hope of eventual reconciliation between races

If Malcolm X’s discovery toward the end of his life, that some whites might live beside him as brothers in Islam, seemed to offer some hope of eventual reconciliation, that hope appeared in a distant future, in a far-off land. In the meantime, I looked to see where the people would come from who were willing to work toward this future and populate this new world.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 80 Aug 1, 1996

Racism wasn’t merely the cruelty involved, but arrogance too

The older woman in my grandparents’ apartment building who became agitated when I got on the elevator behind her & ran out to tell the manager that I was following her; her refusal to apologize when she was told that I lived in the building. Our assistant basketball coach, a young, wiry man from New York with a nice jumper, who, after a pick-up game with some talkative black men, had muttered within earshot of me and three of my teammates that we shouldn’t have lost to a bunch of niggers; and who, when I told him to shut up, had calmly explained the apparently obvious fact that “there are black people, and there are niggers. Those guys were niggers.” It wasn’t merely the cruelty involved; I was learning that black people could be mean and then some. It was a particular brand of arrogance, an obtuseness in otherwise sane people that brought forth our bitter laughter. It was as if whites didn’t know they were being cruel in the first place. Or at least thought you deserving of their scorn.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 75 Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Religion

FactCheck: Did not say “I will stand with the Muslims”

Claim: E-mail lists racist passages taken from Barack Obama’s books.

Origins: These cherry-picked statements are presented devoid of context, and some are reworded from the original.

“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

This statement is a rewording of a passage from page 261 of The Audacity of Hope. The original contains no specific mention of “Muslims”:

“In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a mor urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.

Source: AdWatch of 2008 campaign emails: analysis by snopes.com Aug 22, 2008

GovWatch: never a Muslim, but school listed him as Muslim

An anti-Obama web ad in June says: “Question: Was Barack Obama ever a Muslim? He says no, but records showed Obama was in school as a Muslim living in Indonesia and the Obama campaign can’t explain why. Maybe it doesn’t matter if Obama were a Muslim back then, but it does matter if he’s not telling the truth about it now.”

The ad is based on a seemingly solid fact, that Obama was “enrolled as a Muslim” in a Catholic school in Indonesia in 1967, when Obama was six years old. The ad misses out key facts: Obama was required to participate in the school’s Catholic rituals and pray four times a day. Teachers said that he was probably registered as a Muslim because this was the religion of his then-Indonesian step-father. More importantly, the same school ledger that listed Obama as “Muslim” also listed Obama as an Indonesian; gave an inaccurate name for his previous school; and made no mention of his mother. The campaign concludes that Obama “is not, and was never, a Muslim.” [We agree].

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis Jun 13, 2008

I joined church to commit to Christ, not to Rev. Wright

Q: What has the controversy over Reverend Jeremiah Wright done to your campaign?

A: Well, obviously it’s distracted us. I mean, we ended up spending a lot of time talking about Reverend Wright instead of talking about the issues. And so it wasn’t welcome. But, you know, I think that the American people understand that when I joined Trinity United Church of Christ, I was committing not to Pastor Wright, I was committing to a church and I was committing to Christ. And it is a wonderful church. It’s a member of the United Church of Christ, a denomination that dates back to the battles around abolition. And, as a consequence, when Rev. Wright, who married me and baptized our children, when I learned of his statements that I found so objectionable, I felt that they didn’t define him. I don’t think Rev. Wright’s [more recent comments] represented well the church. And I had to make a clear statement [against Wright]. Hopefully we’ve been able to put it behind us.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series May 4, 2008

In hard times, people take refuge in traditions, God & guns

Q: [to Obama]: Talking to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco, you said people in small towns get bitter, and they cling to guns & religion & antipathy toward people who are not like them. Now, you’ve said you misspoke. Do you understand that some people find that patronizing and think that you said actually what you meant?

OBAMA: I think there’s no doubt that I can see how people were offended. It’s not the first time that I’ve made a statement that was mangled up. It’s not going to be the last. But let me be very clear about what I meant: People are going through very difficult times right now. When people feel like Washington’s not listening to them, then politically they end up focusing on those things that are constant, like religion. They end up feeling “This is a place where I can find some refuge. This is something that I can count on.” They end up being much more concerned about votes around things like guns, where traditions have been passed on.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

I am a person of faith; and I reach out to people of faith

CLINTON: [about Obama’s comment that people in small towns get bitter and they cling to guns & religion]: I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of faith in times that are good and times that are bad. And I similarly don’t think that people cling to their traditions, like hunting and guns, when they are frustrated with the government. I just don’t believe that’s how people live their lives.

OBAMA: Hillary has been saying I’m elitist, out of touch, condescending. Let me be absolutel clear. It would be pretty hard for me to be condescending towards people of faith, since I’m a person of faith and have done more than most other campaigns in reaching out specifically to people of faith, and have written about how Democrats make an erro when they don’t show up and speak directly to people’s faith. The same is true with respect to gun owners. I have large numbers of sportsmen and gun owners in my home state, and they have supported me precisely because I have listened to them.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

Blacks are angry; but I dissociate myself from Rev. Wright

Q: You made a speech on the subject of race and your former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And you said that you never heard him say from the pulpit the kinds of things that so have offended people [in particular, “God Damn America”].

OBAMA: Rev Wright is somebody who made controversial statements, & I specifically said that those comments were objectionable; they’re not comments that I believe in. And I disassociated myself with them. But the body of Reverend Wright’s work, over the course of 30 years, were not represented in those snippets that were shown on television: the church has done outstanding work in ministries on HIV/AIDS, and prison ministries. So I’ve tried to speak to a broader context, which is that there is anger in the Africa American community that sometimes gets expressed, whether in the barbershop or in the church. That’s true not just in the African American community, but in other communities as well. My candidacy represents the opportunity to move beyond it.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

Religion is foundational; not clinging nor elitist

Q: You said about people here in small towns suffering economic hardship, “It’s not surprising they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” It may have come across to many as you attacking their values or their religion, suggesting that people are “clinging” to religion.

A: Scripture talks about clinging to what’s good. My words may have been clumsy, but [I meant] religion is a foundation when other things aren’t going well. That’s true in my own life, through trials and tribulations.

Q: Hillary Clinton says you’re being elitist.

A: My entire trajectory, not just during this campaign, but long before, has been to talk about how Democrats need to get in church, reach out to evangelicals, link faith with the work that we do. The notion that somehow I am standing above that when that essentially describes much of what I’ve been doing over the last 20 years doesn’t make much sense.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

Rev. Jeremiah Wright helped bring me to Christianity

Q: You have spoken about how your former pastor in Chicago, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was critical in helping bring you to Christianity and is like part of your family.

A: Well, I actually wrote about this in my second book “Audacity of Hope.” I had worked as an organizer on the South Side. The community was in difficult straits. I had been raised in a spiritual but nonreligious home. But as I’m doing this organizing, I started visiting some churches. Trinity United Church of Christ was one. I visited that church and found the ministries that they were doing on HIV/AIDS, and on prison ministries, and Rev. Wright’s sermons spoke directly to the social gospel, the need to act and not just to sit in the pews. I found that very attractive and ended up joining the church. Now, there’s been this notion that he was my spiritual adviser. You know, he’s been just my pastor--there are areas where we’ve disagreed. [But the recent uproar has been] both a distortion of who he is and what the church has been about.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

Exposure to Islam taught me that Muslims can partner with us

Q: You are a Christian, but as a child you had more exposure to Islam than most Americans ever will. How did that shape you?

A: Well, I lived in Indonesia for 4-1/2 years when I was a child. The first school I went to in Indonesia was a Catholic school I then attended a public school, but the majority of the country was Muslim. And the brand of Islam that was being practiced in Indonesia at the time was a very tolerant Islam. The country itself was explicitly secular in its constitution. So what it taught me, and what it still teaches me, as I think about foreign policy now, is that Islam can be compatible with the modern world. It can be a partner with the Christian & Jewish & Hindu & Buddhist faiths in trying to create a better world. And so I am always suspicious of attempts to paint Islam with a broad brush because the overwhelming majority of the people of the Islamic faith are people of good will, as opposed to the overheated political rhetoric of assuming a clash of civilizations

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

I am a proud Christian who believes deeply in Jesus Christ

I am a proud Christian. When you don’t show up, if you’re not going to church, then you’re not talking to church folk. That means that people have a very right-wing perspective in terms of what faith means and of defining our faith. As somebody who believes deeply in the precepts of Jesus Christ, particularly treating the least of these in a way that he would, that it is important for us to not concede that ground. Because we can go after those folks and get them.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Despite attack email, pledges Allegiance & uses Bible

Q: There is a lot of false information about you circulating on the Internet. One e-mail in particular alleges that you are trying to hide the fact that you are Muslim; that you took the oath of office on the Koran and not the Bible; that you will not pledge allegiance to the flag. How does your campaign combat this kind of thing?

A: First of all, let’s make clear what the facts are. I am a Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance and lead the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes in the US Senate, when I’m presiding. But you know, in the Internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. Fortunately the American people are smarter than folks give them credit for. My job is to tell the truth, to be straight with the American people about my vision for where the country needs to go. If I’m doing that effectively, then I place my trust in the American people that they will sort out the lies from the truth and they will make a good decision.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Jan 15, 2008

Attends church with press, to dispel rumors that he’s Muslim

Democrat Barack Obama on Sunday confronted one of the persistent falsehoods circulating about him on the Internet. He went to church.

His attendance at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Mason City, Iowa, with the news media in tow, was as much an observation of faith as it was a rejoinder to baseless e-mailed rumors that he is a Muslim and poses a threat to the security of the US. Obama did not address the rumors, but described how he joined Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago two decades ago while working as a community organizer. “I realized that Scripture and the words of God fit into the values I was raised in,” he told the congregation.

Obama regularly attends church, but seldom with reporters watching. He is known to invoke religious references in his speeches and has said he has a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. He often has said that religion has a place in public life and that faith and politics are not exclusively the domain of conservatives.

Source: Associated Press on FoxNews.com Dec 17, 2007

Joined church that emphasized a “Black Value System”

freedom,“ the ”black community,“ & the ”black family.“ That he would join a church this steeped in blackness, with so many other churches available, only underscores his determination to be transparently black.

How can Obama sit every week in a church preaching blackness & not object that he was raised quite well, thank you, by three white Midwesterners? Obama is the kind of man who can close down the best part of himself to belong to this black church and, more broadly, to the black identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 51-54&69 Dec 4, 2007

Madrassa myth perpetuated by false email & fabricated story

One shocking story hit the news on Jan. 17, 2007: “Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?” Insight magazine claimed that Obama spent at least 4 years in a so-called madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia. Quickly, a wave of outrage & fear about Obama hit the conservative blogosphere. There was only one problem with this spectacular story: It was a complete fabrication.

[The story was based on an] April 2005 anti-Obama email entitled “The Enemy Within,” which circulated among right-wing circles. CNN sent a correspondent to Indonesia the check on the story. CNN reported that the madrassa “was an ordinary public school Kids ran around in short pants and learned math and science and participated in the Boy Scouts.” One reason the madrassa lie was so convincing can be attributed to the blind hatred of Muslims found on the Far Right.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 95-102 Oct 30, 2007

Uses prayer to take stock of his moral compass

Obama’s grandparents, with whom he lived during his adolescence, were skeptical Christians who became Unitarians. But it was Obama’s mother who provided him with “a working knowledge of the world’s great religions.”

Obama’s secular upbringing has shaped his approach to religion today: “My faith is complicated by the fact that I didn’t grow up in a particular religious tradition. When you come at it as an adult, your brain mediates a lot, and you ask a lot of questions.”

When Obama prays, he says, he is engaged in an “ongoing conversation with God.” But this conversation is not a delusional belief that a supernatural being is talking directly to him. Instead, Obama uses God as a way to check his own ego. He uses prayer to “take stock” of himself and maintain his “moral compass.” He has a conversation with God in order to ask himself, “Am I doing this because it’s advantageous to me politically or because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.134-138 Oct 30, 2007

Reach out to faith community;faith has role in public square

Q: We’ve heard a lot of talk about Democrats courting the Christian evangelical vote. But there are no commandments saying do not rape, do not torture, or do not commit incest.

A: Yes, there are some inconsistencies and hypocrisy of people who mix religion and politics sometimes. I have said it’s important for Democrats to reach out to the faith community, and the reason is because 90% of Americans believe in God. It’s a source of values. It’s a source of their moral compass. And I know it’s a source of strength for me and my family. I think it’s important for us not to presume that faith has no part in the public square. Look at Martin Luther King, the abolitionists, the suffragettes. We have a long history of reform movements being grounded in that sense often religiously expressed that we have to extend beyond ourselves and our individual immediate self-interests to think about something larger.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Active in the Trinity faith community

Obama has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, a Protestant Church in Chicago, for over 20 years. He, his wife Michelle & his daughters are active in the Trinity faith community.

Obama’s faith shapes his values, as it does for millions of Americans. As he said in a recent speech on faith and politics:

Our values should express themselves not just through our churches or synagogues, temples or mosques; they should express themselves through our government. Because whether it’s poverty or racism, the uninsured or the unemployed, war or peace, the challenges we face today are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are moral problems, rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness--in the imperfections of man. And so long as we’re not doing everything in our personal and collective power to solve them, we know the conscience of our nation cannot rest.
Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, “Resource Flyers” Aug 26, 2007

Carries Bible on campaign trail, & refers to it weekly

[Beginning in Chicago in the 1980s] Obama evolved from a questioner of religion to a practicing Christian. Along his Senate campaign trail, Obama would never fail to carry his Christian Bible. He would place it beside him, in the small compartment in the passenger side door of the SUV, so he could refer to it often. When I first questioned Obama about his religious faith and ever-present Bible in October 2004, he was uncharacteristically short in his responses. Obama, without fail, would mention his church and his Christian faith when he was campaigning in black churches and more socially conservative downstate Illinois communities.

But in speaking to a reporter, it seemed that he referred to his Bible [less often]. “It’s a great book and contains a lot of wisdom,” he said simply. He said he was drawn to Christianity because its main tenet of altruism and selflessness coincided with his own philosophies. His Christianity would be well received among blacks and some rural whites.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 76-77 Aug 14, 2007

Embrace Christ as an ally

You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ because you have sins to wash away--because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 15 Mar 27, 2007

Source of his book title “Audacity of Hope” was a sermon

After Harvard, Obama returned to Chicago where he attended a rousing service at the South Side’s Trinity United Church of Christ. The sermon that Sunday spoke to the myriad hardships--from overdue electric bills to marital abuse and failed schools-- endured by those gathered there. The preacher identified the enemy common to all--despair--and its antidote--one without which no people would ever strive to create a better world. The sermon was called “The Audacity of Hope.” Obama never forgot it.
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 67 Feb 15, 2007

Raised secular, but with working knowledge of world religion

I was not raised in a religious household. For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness. However, in her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. In sum, my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist; it was a phenomenon to be treated with a suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well.

This spirit of hers guided me on the path I would ultimately take. It was in search of confirmation of her values that I studied political philosophy.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.202-4 Oct 1, 2006

Baptized as an adult in the Trinity United Church of Christ

Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts. The typical black sermon freely acknowledged that all Christians (including the pastors) could expect to still experience the same greed, resentment, lust, and anger that everyone else experienced. In the black community, the lines between sinner and saved were more fluid; the sins of those who came to church were not so different from the sins of those who didn’t, and so were as likely to be talked about with humor as with condemnation. You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world. You needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away-because you needed an ally in your difficult journey.

It was because of these newfound understandings-that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world-that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be ba

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.207-8 Oct 1, 2006

Religious concerns ok, if translated into universal values

Progressives might recognize the values that both religious & secular people share when it comes to the moral & material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of “thou” and not just “I”, resonates in religious congregations across the country.

Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square. To say that men and women should not inject their personal morality into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, mush of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

What our pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. Those opposed to abortion cannot simply invoke God’s will--they have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.216-219 Oct 1, 2006

There’s a call to evangelize in politics

The nature of politics is you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes, that’s by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is. The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “I have a deep faith” Apr 5, 2004

I’m a big believer in the separation of church and state

I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country, so I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and, at night, you’d hear the [Muslim] prayer call. My mother was a deeply spiritual person. Her view always was that underlying these religions was a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself, but also for the greater good. I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I’m a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I’m a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “I have a deep faith” Apr 5, 2004

Spent time in both Muslim and Catholic schools

In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I’d pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and 30 brown children, muttering words. Sometimes the nun would catch me, and her stern look would force my lids back shut. But that didn’t change how I felt inside.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.142 Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Voting Record

Biggest mistake was intruding in Terri Schiavo case

Q What is the most significant professional mistake you have made in the past four years?

A: Well, my wife may have a longer list. But professionally the biggest mistake that I made was when I first arrived in the Senate. There was a debate about Terri Schiavo, and a lot of us, including me, allowed Congress to intrude where it shouldn’t have. I should have fought more for making sure that families make those decisions and not bureaucrats and politicians.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Voted NO on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice.

Vote on the Nomination -- a YES vote would to confirm Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Reference: Alito Nomination; Bill PN 1059 ; vote number 2006-002 on Jan 31, 2006

Voted NO on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Vote on the Nomination (Confirmation John G. Roberts, Jr., of Maryland, to be Chief Justice of the United States )
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination of John Roberts; Bill PN 801 ; vote number 2005-245 on Sep 27, 2005

Member of Congressional Black Caucus.

Obama is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus:

On January 2, 1969, [three newly elected and six previously elected] African-American Members of Congress met as the Democratic Select Committee. On February 2, 1971 the group agreed to be known as the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

The goals of the CBC are to positively influence the course of events pertinent to African-Americans and others of similar experience and situation, and to achieve greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services. The Caucus has not only been at the forefont of issues affecting African-Americans, but has garnered international acclaim for advancing agendas aimed at protecting human rights and civil rights for all people. Today, the Congressional Black Caucus stands 38 members strong.

Upon her election as Chair of the CBC for the 107th Congress, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson expounded: “Whether the issue is popular or unpopular, simple or complex, the CBC has fought for thirty years to protect the fundamentals of democracy. The Caucus is committed to ensuring that the standard of living for minorities in America does not retrogress, but instead rises to meet the expectations of both our ancestors and our children. The Congressional Black Caucus is probably the closest group of legislators on the Hill. We work together almost incessantly, we are friends and, more importantly, a family of freedom fighters. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the expertise of all of our members has helped us be effective beyond our numbers.”

Source: Congressional Black Caucus web site 01-CBC0 on Jan 6, 2001

Reject Bush's Florida electors due to election fraud.

Obama adopted the CBC press release:

There is overwhelming evidence of official misconduct, deliberate fraud and an attempt to suppress voter turnout by unlawful means that were used to produce George W. Bush’s false victory. The preponderance of the available evidence points to Vice President Al Gore as the actual winner of the most votes in Florida and he should have been awarded the state’s electoral votes.

Vice President Al Gore may have conceded his judicial contest, but that is irrelevant. There is not provision for the concession of candidates in the Constitution. There is, however, a process set out in law for Congress to consider challenges to electoral votes. The Congress, on behalf of all Americans, is the final judge of how much election fraud to accept.

The hearings held by the NAACP clearly showed that there were massive violations of the Voting Rights Act, and that tens of thousands of Floridians were denied due process when they were removed from the voter rolls without notice. Still others were intimidated by police checkpoints set up near polling places. In Miami-Dade and Broward, investigations by independent news organizations have found hundreds of ineligible persons who were allowed to vote. There clearly were significant inequities in assigning what turned out to be non-working voting machines to precincts that were heavily African-American in Miami-Dade. We would not tolerate any of these errors if they took place in some other country. Is our duty to our own country any less?

Millions of Americans have already expressed their public outrage at the myriad injustices which occurred in the making of George W. Bush’s mistaken victory. But public outrage is not enough. The laws of this country provide for the objection which we herein make on behalf of freedom, justice and democracy. We, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, therefore wholeheartedly object to the acceptance of the presidential electors from Florida.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC4 on Jan 6, 2001

Rated 100% by the AU, indicating support of church-state separation.

Obama scores 100% by the AU on church-state separation

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 AU scores as follows:

About the AU (from their website, www.au.org):

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. AU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

Americans United is a national organization with members in all 50 states. We are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and led by the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director. AU has more than 75,000 members from all over the country. They include people from all walks of life and from various faith communities, as well as those who profess no particular faith. We are funded by donations from our members and others who support church-state separation. We do not seek, nor would we accept, government funding.

Source: AU website 06n-AU on Dec 31, 2006

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Barack Obama on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Dec 07, 2008