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Las Vegas Review-Journal - Las Vegas Visit: Obama: D.C. System Fails U.S.

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Location: Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas Review-Journal - Las Vegas Visit: Obama: D.C. System Fails U.S.

By Paul Harasim

When Sen. Barack Obama made an appearance Thursday in Las Vegas, he brought the words of the late President John Kennedy with him.

Obama invoked the 35th president's inaugural address in an obvious rebuke to Sen. Hillary Clinton, who called Obama "irresponsible and naive" after a debate in which he said he would meet with leaders of nations hostile to the U.S. without preconditions.

Obama told the audience at Doolittle Community Center to recall Kennedy's words: "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

During the July YouTube debate of the eight candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton said a meeting with hostile leaders without preconditions could result in unforeseen consequences.

"I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes," the U.S. senator from New York said.

Obama, who did not refer to Clinton by name, told the audience of more than 1,000 that a strong president of a strong country -- one trying to find the right answers to problems -- need not worry about being used for propaganda.

"Do we continue the conventional Washington foreign policy that led us into a misguided war, or do we engage with friends and foes in a way that restores American's moral leadership and security?" the Illinois senator asked.

Obama also questioned whether suggestions by some candidates and pundits that lengthy experience in Washington was a good thing.

"I might not have the experience that some in Washington want," he said. "But I've got the experience America needs."

Obama, a former community activist, state legislator and law professor, said people should be careful about those who say they know how to work the system in Washington.

"The system hasn't worked for us," he said, noting that those with experience have yet to bring the universal health care that every Democratic candidate for the nomination now favors.

"Do we continue to allow lobbyists to veto our country's progress, or do we finally put our national interests ahead of the special interests, and address the concerns people feel over their jobs, their health care and their children's future?"

Obama's style seemed to win points from people in the audience. Gerald Henry, a 52-year-old truck driver, said Obama has a "great way of connecting with people."

And to much laughter, Obama said his mother-in-law recently won $10,000 at the slots in Las Vegas but refused to give him a political contribution. Why? Because she had already given him his wife.

Obama's most rousing ovations came when he called for an immediate end to the war in the Middle East. U.S. troops should be taken off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and put on the right one in Afghanistan "to take out al- Qaida," he said.

In recognition of Nevada's high foreclosure rate, Obama also called for reforms of the mortgage industry and federal aid for homeowners who are on the brink of losing their homes. He said the money would come from fines collected from predatory lenders.

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