Des Moines Register: Obama urges Iowans to lobby congress to end the Iraq war
Presidential candidate Barack Obama called for Iowans to lobby their U.S. senators to end the war in Iraq during a campaign stop here Sunday.
At issue is a proposal vetoed last week by President Bush that called for the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq, which is similar to a plan proposed by Obama, a U.S. Senator from Illinois, earlier this year.
Troops would have started coming home from Iraq last week under Obama's plan, with the majority home by March 31 of next year. The plan vetoed by the president would have had some troops coming home Oct. 1.
Democrats need 16 state senators to vote with them to override the president's veto, Obama, a Democrat, said to a crowd of about 200 people at Walter Cunningham Center for Excellence, a school in Waterloo.
"If everyone here makes the decision that they are going to bring about change in this country, change is going to come," he said, adding: "Not only that but you'll elect a new president named Barack Obama."
Obama did not name names but he was referring specifically to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican. Iowa's other U.S. Senator, Tom Harkin, a Democrat, voted as the majority of members of his party.
Beth Levine, a Grassley spokeswoman, noted that the Senator believes it is wrong to take away the financial backing of the troops who are in harms way.
"Everybody is entitled to their vote and Sen. Grassley feels very strongly" about how he voted, Levine said.
Waterloo City Councilman John Kincaid attended the event at the center. He and his wife Susan both said they plan to take Obama's advice and lobby Grassley through e-mails and calls to vote in favor of troop withdraw.
"The more pressure the general public put on elected officials, they will have to listen because we're the ones that voted them in and we're the ones that can vote them out," John Kincaid said.
Sunday was Obama's first trip back to Iowa since being placed last week under the protection from the U.S. Secret Service. Crowds still maintained their close contact with Obama, which has been common at his dozens of campaign stops across the country.
This trip, however, at least four men with earpieces who were presumably Secret Service agents closely followed and watched Obama as he interacted with the crowd. Neither national security or campaign officials have disclosed the reasons for the protection. Metal detectors or other common security measures were not conducted while he was in Waterloo.
Obama reiterated many of his campaign goals Sunday, such as access to health care, development of a national energy policy and improvements to the nation's educational system.
He complimented the Iowa Legislature for increasing minimum wage this year. He also told the crowd that he supports civil rights protections to gay and lesbian citizens on a national level, similar to what Iowa's legislature passed this year.
"That's something I feel very strongly about and I think most Americans do as well," Obama told the crowd.
After speaking at the school, Obama attended part of the Sunday church service at Antioch Baptist Church before flying home to Chicago. At the church, he again spoke about the war to about 300 people at the service.
"We're spending $275 million a day in Iraq," Obama said. "Imagine if we spent $275 million right here in Waterloo to build housing, improve schools, put young men back to work and reduce crime."