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The Oskaloosa Herald - Obama: 'People Are Hungry For Change'

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The Oskaloosa Herald - Obama: 'People Are Hungry For Change'

By Duane Nollen

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama says the country is hungry for change and by the looks of the capacity crowd gathered at Smokey Row Wednesday morning, people are wanting to hear his message.

Obama brought his family to Oskaloosa Wednesday as part of a three-stop campaign swing through south-central Iowa on the Fourth of July. People packed Smokey Row, formed a line outside the coffee shop and gathered on the westside of the city square for a chance to see or hear him.

"People are hungry for change," Obama told the crowd.

Obama says that people from across the spectrum - black, white, brown, young and old - have come to his rallies to hear his message of change.

"They are hungry, desperate for change," he said. "There's a wind blowing."

Obama argues that events of the last six years are making people eager for change.

He says the health care system is bankrupting people. The No Child Left Behind Act "leaves the money behind" to fund education. The economy is benefiting Wall Street and not average people. Obama believes the nation needs a national energy policy to break the dependency on foreign oil from possibly hostile countries. He says we are potentially funding both sides of the War on Terror. He believes the war in Iraq should never have been waged.

Obama argues that people are frustrated over the recent clemency that Vice President Cheney's former staffer "Scooter" Libby received to escape jail time. He related a joke a colleague, Democratic Sen. Dick Durban, said about the matter: "Even Paris got some jail time."

"I am tired of the politics of division," Obama said.

Obama wants to bring people together to face today's challenges.

"We've been through tough times before," he said. America has risen to the challenges of the American Revolution, slavery, The Civil War, two world wars, The Cold War and civil rights. "We can do better. I am convinced of it," he said.

If elected president, Obama wants to modernize the health care system to save at least $100 billion a year and then provide basic health care for all by the end of his first term. Obama also favors preventive health care programs for children.

He wants to invest in early childhood education and invest in teachers. He says that the nation will lose 1 million teachers in the next decade as baby boomers retire.

In the field of energy, he wants to have a 45 mile per gallon fuel efficiency standard for vehicles and an emphasis on the development of alternative fuel sources to replace oil from the Persian Gulf. That would be "a gift of independence to the next generation," he said.

Obama believes in "fair trade" with other countries. He wants to place labor and environmental provisions in trade agreements with other countries to level the playing field.

He wants to look after workers.

On Iraq, Obama wants to be as "careful getting out as we were careless in getting in." He wants to have all combat troops out of Iraq by the end of next year. Obama then wants to go after Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

Obama's speech was well received by the audience.

"I thought it was very good," said Lorraine Becze, of Oskaloosa. Becze particularly liked what she heard about health care and foreign policy.

"I thought it was interesting and well worth my time to come and listen to him," said Jeff Greenhalgh, of Oskaloosa. He was impressed with Obama's "positive message."

Al Muir and his wife, Lynn, returned to Oskaloosa for the holiday and decided to see Obama speak.

"It sounds like he wants to return the government to 'for and by the people' and not 'for and of the rich,'" Al Muir said.

Lynn Muir said she is ready for change: "Not just me, a lot of people are ready for change."

"I am tired of lies in Washington," she said.

Outside Smokey Row, two California residents were selling Obama T-shirts.

Wendy Simonsen and her son, Andy Lochrie, were selling Obama T-shirts for $15 apiece.

"We're Obama groupies," Simonsen said. She just landed in Iowa Tuesday and went to several Obama events and planned to attend more Wednesday.

Simonsen says that three generations of her family supports Obama. She said she agrees with everything Obama has to say about health care, education and his anti-war message.

Obama shook hands with people gathered inside Smokey Row after his speech while his wife spoke to people gathered on the city square. He then went outside to greet people on the square.

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