Senator Barack Obama Visits Emmetsburg
Another “big name” in the arena of Democrat presidential hopefuls found his way to Emmetsburg when Illinois Senator Barack Obama campaigned at the Smith Wellness Center on the Emmetsburg Campus of Iowa Lakes Community College on Sunday, Dec. 17. Obama spoke to a large crowd that filled the gymnasium at the Wellness Center.
Bill Zeigler of Emmetsburg introduced Sen. Obama to the crowd.
“Believe me, Barack Obama has no shortage of experience. He understands the struggles of the ordinary American because he’s actually been there himself. He is hopeful about America’s future because he hasn’t been stuck in Washington for decades. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.”
Sen. Obama spoke on several key points–healthcare, education, foreign oil dependence and alternative fuels, and national security.
“If we want to really capture this opportunity it’s not enough just to change political parties in the White House, we’ve got to change how politics is done in Washington, fundamentally,” began Obama.
Obama stated that he wants to offer a health plan for every American that is at least as good as the healthcare plan that he receives as a member of the U.S. Congress. He also seeks to lower premiums for families who already have health insurance.
“We will get it in place not 20 years from now, not ten years from now, we’ll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States,” Obama noted.
In reference to education, Obama stated that he’s in the race for the presidency because he wants to “offer every child the best education there is in America from the day they’re born to the day they graduate from college.”
According to Obama, early childhood education is the key to closing the achievement gap. He is in favor of higher salaries and greater support for teachers, in favor of remedying the No Child Left Behind Act, and in favor of giving a $4,000 tax credit to go towards funding college education in exchange for community service.
“We will lay out a bargain for the next generation that says ‘you give something back to your country, and your country will make certain that you get the education you need’,” said Obama.
In regards to foreign oil dependency, Obama had a lot to say in support of the ethanol industry in Iowa.
“No one has done more than Jack Kibbie for alternative fuels,” said Obama. “He knows I’ve been a big booster of ethanol, but that’s going to have to be just one part of the mix. We need a president who has a comprehensive plan who says that we’re going to raise fuel efficiency standards on cars, and we’re going to make sure that cleaner energy is in those cars causing global warming. Billions of dollars will be generated that can go to fund solar and wind and bio-diesel projects all across America that can help build the rural economy.”
On national security, Obama suggested that the country needs a president who is going to tell people not what they want to hear, but but they need to hear–the truth.
“I’m in this race because I’m tired of politicians thinking the only way to look tough on national security is to vote, act, and talk like George Bush,” Obama stated. “As your president, my job will be to keep you safe. I will take that responsibility with a solemn vow–I will be tireless in those efforts.”
Obama said that keeping America safe involves more than just military action, but diplomatic efforts, as well.
“We have the best fighting force in the world. Because they are so excellent, we have to be judicious in how we use them,” said Obama. “That’s why I was opposed to this war in Iraq from the start. I was strongly in favor in going into Afghanistan but because we had not finished hunting down Al-Quida, this was a distraction, a war of choice. That’s why as president, I will end this war and bring our troops home within 16 months and we will refocus on finishing the fight for Al-Quida in Afghanistan.”
Obama also took time to take questions from the crowd. Inquiries regarding stem cell research, subsidies for farmers, a woman’s right to choose, increasing benefits for individuals with disabilities, increasing Medicare reimbursements, and immigration were heard.