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New Hope Courier: Obama Says He Is Emissary For Change

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Location: Oskaloosa, IA

New Hope Courier: Obama says he is emissary for change


Democrat Barack Obama declared that "change can‘t just be a slogan" as he voiced admiration for former President Clinton, while arguing that voters are looking for a new face that moves past the bitter wrangling of past campaigns.

Obama said the dominant theme he is hearing from voters is weariness with Washington-style wrangling.

On Tuesday Bill Clinton said: "Yesterday‘s news was pretty good," referring to his time in office and taking a jab at critics who call the former first couple old news.

"I admire Bill Clinton, I think he did a lot of fine things as president and he‘s a terrific political strategist," the Illinois senator said. "What we‘re more interested in is in looking forward, not looking backward. I think the American people feel the same way. They are looking for a way to break out of the harsh partisanship and the old arguments and solve problems."

"Change can‘t just be a slogan," Obama said. "Change has to mean that we‘re not doing the same old thing that we‘ve been doing."

Obama‘s critics argue he lacks experience, and Hillary Clinton‘s backers point to her eight years in the White House and her tenure in the Senate as evidence she‘s qualified to be president. Obama dismissed experience that‘s rooted in Washington.

In the interview, Obama declined to criticize Clinton directly, however.

"I would not be in this race if I didn‘t think I had the capacity to bridge divisions along partisan lines, racial lines, religious lines, that was unequaled in the field," he said.

"What I‘m confident about is, we‘re going to be able to run a very competitive campaign, we‘ve got the resources to do it, we‘ve got the volunteer base to do it, and we‘ve got the right message," he said.

"Obviously it‘s going to be hard-fought race," said Obama. "It‘s not going to be just one or two candidates who are competitive. I think you still have a very strong field and it‘s still very early."

Obama said that more important than the amount of money he raised was the 250,000-strong donor base that he‘s built.

"We‘ve got the kind of support that can be sustained over a long period of time," said Obama. "We are a change-based campaign, we are a grassroots based campaign. That kind of energy and excitement on the ground, I think that translates into votes in what I think could be a close race."

Obama was joined by his wife, Michelle, and two small children on the campaign trail, moving through a long series of colorful Independence Day events, standing on front porches and munching barbecue.

"This is the family weekend for us," Mrs. Obama said, as the family loaded up into a recreational vehicle heading for another campaign stop. "Family is first."

In a brief meeting with reporters, Obama dismissed comments earlier in the day by President Bush, who warned against moving quickly to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

"The president has stubbornly denied the facts on the ground there for a long time," said Obama. "That‘s not what that the American people are looking for."

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