Foster's Daily Democrat: Obama pushes N.H. senators to end Iraq War
By Steven Gintz
Presidential candidate Barack Obama targeted his New Hampshire Senate colleagues during a speech here Friday afternoon saying they have the responsibility of pushing to end the war in Iraq.
During a forum held in the elementary school gymnasium, the Illinois senator asked for the audience's help to convince New Hampshire Sens. Judd Gregg and John Sununu to vote to override President Bush's veto of legislation to end the war.
The legislation, rejected by Bush on May 1, would give the Democratically controlled House and Senate more say over war financing and establish a schedule for phased troop withdrawal.
Obama announced that a group of over 1,500 campaign volunteers would circulate a petition the following day to convince the senators to become two of the 16 Republican votes required to override Bush's veto.
"You have a couple senators here, and they need to recognize that our troops have performed valiantly and it is now time for them to come home."
Obama said the petitions are the most effective way to end the war.
"In some ways, the power is in the hands of the American people to move things along."
Ultimately, he admitted, the phased withdrawal may not allow all of the troops to return to American soil. Some may have to redeploy to Afghanistan. He called the conflict there a large problem, but unlike Iraq, one with a possible positive outcome.
He encouraged involvement elsewhere, telling the audience Americans can successfully address problems like the country's "broken" health-care system, the disappearing middle class, and failing education policy by paying greater attention to these issues.
And at least at Friday's meeting, greater attention was certainly being paid, as the packed house of over 300 offered frequent applause while the candidate discussed a wide range of concerns including foreign oil dependency, climate change, nuclear prohibition, and what he reiterated as the three most important issues in the country and of his campaign - education, health care, and the Iraq war.
Obama said Bush has set up a failed policy - No Child Left Behind - which, contrary to its name, leaves many children behind. He explained the best way to combat a failing education system is to promote teaching as a profession.
Citing a projected loss of a million teachers to retirement over the next couple years, Obama said the solution lies in the heavy recruitment of potential educators.
"The single most important ingredient of whether children will succeed or not is the teacher standing in front of them," he said. "The only way to recruit them is if they feel like it is a profession that is respected."
He suggested that increased salaries may show that respect, and incentives could be given, such as federal loan incentives for those entering the field of education.
To applause, Obama said America as a whole spends twice as much on health care as any other nation, and there is no reason every American shouldn't have health-care coverage.
He argued that while there might be added costs involved in providing such coverage at first, early prevention would save money down the line in potentially staving off the need for surgery or other expensive procedures.