March 8, 2009: Obama Focuses on the Economy, Budget Debate Dominates, but Afghanistan Looms

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

President Obama at the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class

President Obama at the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class

White House photo 3/6/09 by Pete Souza

Jobs in Ohio

Today the President went to Ohio for the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class. The bad economic numbers are more than statistics there, but the recovery act did bring some good news.

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IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Poll: Obama’s rating at all-time high NBC/WSJ poll shows gap between popularity of president and his policies: 68 percent have a favorable opinion of the president, including 47 percent whose opinion is “very positive” — both all-time highs for Obama in the poll.
    67 percent say they feel more hopeful about his leadership and 60 percent approve of his job in the White House.
    Yet the percentage of Americans who are confident that Obama has the right goals and policies for the country — 54 percent — is slightly smaller, suggesting that the president is more popular than his policies are. An example: 57 percent tend to support the stimulus, compared with 34 percent who tend to oppose it. – MSNBC, 3-7-09
  • FOX News Poll: Obama Believes in Bigger Government: Despite the president’s claim that he doesn’t believe in bigger government, a new poll shows there is widespread belief among Americans that he does.
    President Obama’s job approval rating stands at 63 percent, with 26 percent saying they disapprove.
    92 percent of Democrats say they approve — more than three times as many as the 30 percent of Republicans who give Obama the thumbs up. Among independents, 61 percent approve.
    Just over half of Americans — 52 percent — think so far Obama is meeting expectations and 14 percent say he is actually exceeding expectations. – Fox News, 3-5-09
  • FACT CHECK: Obama ‘tax hikes’ a matter of words: President Barack Obama says he would lower taxes on 95 percent of Americans now and raise them on the rich in 2011. Republicans say he will increase taxes for all and in the midst of a recession to boot. So who’s right? Yes, all Americans would pay more under the president’s policies. His own aides concede that. But no, Obama would not raise taxes in the midst of a recession, as long as his economic assumptions bear out. – AP, 3-7-09

President Barack Obama and White House Domestic Advisor Melody Barnes listen as firefighter Travis Ulerick of Dublin, Ind., addresses the White House Forum on Health Reform, Thursday, March 5, 2009, in the East Room at the White House.

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • Obama Ponders Outreach to Elements of the Taliban: President Obama declared in an interview that the United States was not winning the war in Afghanistan and opened the door to a reconciliation process in which the American military would reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq. – NYT, 3-8-09
  • Analysis: Obama’s ambitious plans raise questions: President Barack Obama offered his domestic-policy proposals as a “break from a troubled past.” But the economic outlook now is more troubled than it was even in January, despite Obama’s bold rhetoric and commitment of more trillions of dollars. – AP, 3-7-09
  • When economy bottoms out, how will we know?: When will this wretched economy bottom out? The recession is already in its 15th month, making it longer than all but two downturns since World War II. For now, everything seems to be getting worse: The Dow is in free fall, jobs are vanishing every day, and one in eight American homeowners is in foreclosure or behind on payments. But the economy always recovers. It runs in cycles, and economists are watching an array of statistics, some of them buried deep beneath the headlines, to spot the turning point. The Associated Press examined three markets — housing, jobs and stocks — and asked experts where things stand and how to know when they’ve hit bottom. None of them expects it to come anytime soon. – AP, 3-7-09
  • Obama Turkey visit to focus on Iraq, Afghanistan: For one of his first foreign visits, President Barack Obama will call on NATO ally Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim country viewed as critical to aiding the U.S. pullout from Iraq, turning around the Afghanistan war and blocking Iran’s nuclear ambitions. – AP, 3-7-09
  • Obama on stimulus: ‘I know we did the right thing’: While aknowledging an “astounding” number of job losses in February, President Barack Obama told critics of his $787 billion economic recovery plan Friday that it is saving jobs and said, “I know we did the right thing.” He suggested that critics talk to 25 police recruits in Ohio’s capital city who owe their jobs to stimulus spending and “talk to the teachers who are still able to teach our children because we passed this plan.” – AP, 3-6-09
  • Source: Obama to reverse limits on stem cell work: Reversing an eight-year-old limit on potentially life-saving science, President Barack Obama plans to lift restrictions Monday on taxpayer-funded research using embryonic stem cells. The long-promised move will allow a rush of research aimed at one day better treating, if not curing, ailments from diabetes to paralysis — research that crosses partisan lines, backed by such notables as Nancy Reagan and the late Christopher Reeve. But it stirs intense controversy over whether government crosses a moral line with such research. – AP, 3-6-09
  • Government-run plan could trip up health overhaul: Giving Americans the option of buying medical coverage through the government — an idea put forth by President Barack Obama — is a potential deal breaker for some Republicans and insurance companies whose support would ease the way for a health care overhaul. The proposal, which Obama advocated in his presidential campaign, would for the first time offer government-sponsored coverage to middle class families, as an alternative to private health plans. By some estimates, it could reduce premiums by 20 percent or more — making it much more affordable to cover the estimated 48 million people who don’t have health coverage…. – AP, 3-6-09
  • Fight Brewing Within GOP Over Soul, Future of Party: This week’s dustup between GOP chief Michael Steele and influential radio host Rush Limbaugh underscored the struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. – Fox News, 3-6-09
  • Dean under consideration for surgeon general: report: Former Vermont governor Howard Dean was under consideration by the Obama administration for U.S. surgeon general, CNN reported on Friday, but a source said he was not interested in the post. – Reuters, 3-6-09
  • Congressman Labels Obama ‘Abortion President’ Ahead of Stem Cell Reversal: Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., accused Obama of launching two attacks on pro-life measures. – Fox News, 3-6-09
  • Democrats blast Limbaugh for comment on Kennedy: A Democratic official rebuked conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh on Friday for suggesting a health care proposal will be named in memory of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer. On his radio show, Limbaugh said President Barack Obama’s proposed health care revisions will be championed by “the liberal lion Teddy Kennedy.” – AP, 3-6-09
  • Top Dems adjust to life in Obama’s shadow Pelosi and Reid balance executive priorities with legislative powers: As the party’s highest-ranking elected officials, they used their congressional majorities to thwart key elements of Bush’s agenda. Now with Obama the Democrats’ unquestioned leader, Reid and Pelosi play less visible and more intermediary parts…. – MSNBC, 3-6-09
  • CIA destroyed 12 harsh interrogation tapes: The CIA destroyed a dozen videotapes of harsh interrogations of terror suspects, according to documents filed Friday in a lawsuit over the government’s treatment of detainees. The 12 tapes were part of a larger collection of 92 videotapes of terror suspects that the CIA destroyed. The extent of the tape destruction was disclosed through a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the government. – AP, 3-6-09
  • Gupta withdraws from surgeon general search: CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta won’t be the next surgeon general, the Obama administration confirmed Thursday. Gupta, 39, a neurosurgeon with star appeal, was seen as President Barack Obama’s first pick for the job. He would have brought instant recognition to the office of surgeon general, a post that has lacked visibility since the days of C. Everett Koop during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. – AP, 3-5-09
  • Obama: Every voice must be heard on health reform: President Barack Obama pumped health care allies and skeptics alike for ways to overhaul the nation’s costly and frustrating system Thursday and heard only applause and agreement when he told them there’s “a clear consensus that the need for health care reform is here and now.” – AP, 3-5-09
  • Congress passes stopgap bill to avoid shutdown: With a $410 billion catchall spending bill stalled in the Senate and a midnight deadline looming, Congress rushed through stopgap legislation Friday to keep the government running for another five days. The House passed the bill by a 328-50 vote; the Senate acted by unanimous voice vote. President Barack Obama will sign the measure later Friday. The stopgap measure was needed because on Thursday night, Senate Republicans unexpectedly put the brakes on the sweeping measure. The so-called omnibus bill would award domestic agencies with big spending increases and it also contains about 8,000 pet projects sought by lawmakers. – AP, 3-5-09
  • Treasury secretary’s choice for deputy withdraws: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is two steps further away from filling the ranks of his senior staff. As markets quake and Treasury confronts the worst economic crisis in decades, Geithner has seen two people he had hoped to name to key posts withdraw from consideration. – AP, 3-5-09
  • Senate preparing huge spending bill for Obama: Senate leaders hoped Thursday to clear for President Barack Obama a huge spending bill that awards big increases to domestic programs and is stuffed with pet projects sought by lawmakers in both parties. The $410 billion spending bill, spanning 1,122 pages, has an extraordinary reach, wrapping nine spending bills together to fund the annual operating budgets of every Cabinet department except for Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. – AP, 3-5-09
  • White House Health Care Summit: The wrap up session: President Obama entered the room with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who said said he looked forward to being a “foot soldier” in the push for health care reform and “this time we will not fail.” – NYT, 3-5-09
  • Clinton accuses Iran of seeking to intimidate: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.” – AP, 3-4-09
  • Key Democrats oppose Obama’s tax deduction plan: President Barack Obama’s proposal to limit itemized tax deductions for high earners is running into opposition from key Democrats in Congress who worry that charities and the housing market would be hurt. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus questioned Wednesday whether the proposal was viable, a day after his House counterpart also expressed reservations. – AP, 3-4-09
  • Obama takes aim at costly defense contracts: President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the U.S. government was paying too much for things it did not need and ordered a crackdown on spending “plagued by massive cost overruns and outright fraud.” – AP, 3-4-09
  • Senate votes to preserve earmarks in spending bill: The Senate has approved 13 pet spending projects sought by a lobbying firm accused of funneling illegal campaign contributions to lawmakers. Senators voted 52-43 to preserve the so-called earmarks in a 1,000-page- plus catchall spending bill even though they were sought by the PMA Group, a lobbying firm that closed up shop after being raided by the FBI last year. They included money for high-tech firms and colleges in Pennsylvania. – AP, 3-4-09
  • Obama’s plan to hike taxes meets fierce opposition: President Barack Obama’s call to raise taxes on high earners and greenhouse gas polluters met fierce opposition Tuesday from congressional Republicans and also a few Democrats. “I would never want to adversely affect anything that is charitable or good,” Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said of Obama’s call to limit high-income taxpayers’ itemized deductions for charitable donations and mortgage interest. – AP, 3-3-09
  • Trade nominee is 4th Obama pick to owe back taxes: Another Obama administration nominee has tax troubles. This time, it’s Ron Kirk, the president’s choice to be U.S. trade representative. Kirk owes an estimated $10,000 in back taxes from earlier in the decade and has agreed to pay them, the Senate Finance Committee said Monday. AP, 3-3-09
  • Obama pushes centers as one focus of health reform: President Barack Obama has been vague about details of his healthcare reform efforts, but he provided a hint on Monday of one direction he could take — community health centers. – Reuters, 3-3-09
  • Economic gloom shrouds Obama talks with Brown: A pall of economic gloom Tuesday hung over President Barack Obama’s talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who came armed with a plan for huge reforms of the reeling global finance system. – AFP, 3-3-09
  • Clinton vows to work for creation of Palestinian state: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed her “aggressive” Middle East diplomacy on Tuesday, saying she was sending two envoys to Syria and vowing to work towards a Palestinian state. – AFP, 3-3-09
  • US: ‘Inescapable’ movement to Palestinian state: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised Tuesday to work with the incoming Israeli government, but delivered a clear message that could put her at odds with the country’s next leader: Movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state is “inescapable.” – AP, 3-2-09
  • Obama lifts veil on Bush-era terror methods: President Barack Obama’s administration lifted the veil further Monday on past “war on terror” tactics, releasing Bush-era legal memos and revealing the CIA destroyed 92 controversial interrogation videos. Hours after Attorney General Eric Holder ruled out the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique — because it amounted to torture — his Justice Department released nine internal documents from the previous administration, which had given legal grounding to the controversial policies….. – AP, 3-2-09
  • Extraordinary Measures A new memo shows just how far the Bush administration considered going in fighting the war on terror: In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday. Many of the actions discussed in the Oct. 23, 2001, memo to then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s chief lawyer, William Haynes, were never actually taken. – Newsweek, 3-2-09
  • Web-Savvy Obama Team Hits Unexpected Bumps Washington Post: Issues Of Technology, Security And Privacy Slow The Administration’s Effort To Foster Instant Communication: The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government. WhiteHouse.gov, envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve. – CBS News, 3-2-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama spoke at a White House conference on health care.

Political Quotes

  • Sen. Richard Shelby “Some banks should be allowed to fail, say two top Republicans”: “Close them down, get them out of business. If they’re dead, they ought to be buried,” Sen. Richard Shelby, the Ranking Republican on the banking committee, told ABC’s This Week. “We bury the small banks — we’ve got to bury some big ones, and send a strong message to the market.” He did not mention any banks by name, although he responded to a question about Citigroup by noting that “Citi’s always been a problem child.” – CNN, 3-8-09
  • Sen. John McCain “Some banks should be allowed to fail, say two top Republicans”: Former GOP presidential candidate John McCain told Fox News Sunday that he did not think President Obama “made the hard decision, and that is to let these banks fail.” He did not call for nationalization of troubled financial institutions, which many Republicans oppose, but said their assets should be sold. “Unfortunately, the shareholders and others will take a beating,” he said. – CNN, 3-8-09
  • Eric Cantor: White House spending stance has ‘no credibility’: The Virginia Republican said on State of the Union Sunday that the White House’s contention that the legislative process was too far along to change course was completely inaccurate. “Let’s call it how it is. First of all, if you make a promise, people expect that you live up to it. And that’s why this administration’s refusal to go in and change this bill is, I think, is a false position.
    “There is no way anyone could take what Mr. Orszag has said with any credibility. Of course they’re negotiating on this bill in the Senate right now. To say that we would have drawn it differently, but leave $430 billion plus on the table like this? No way. People are expecting this administration to live up to the promises made.”
    “There is no question that we’ve got to change this entire process, it is a system gone bad,” he said.
    “Listen, the future of the Republican Party is tied to the future of this country. People right now are desperate for leadership, are desperate for us in this party as well as the other to begin talking about ideas that deal with the relevant challenges that they’re facing every single day,” he said.
    “And it is not about individuals, it’s not about Rush, it’s not about Rahm Emanuel, it’s not about any particular individual… if we do not begin to start acting more like adults in this town and produce so that people can get back to work, all of us are very concerned with where this country will end up.” – CNN, 3-8-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, Saturday, March 7, 2009, Washington, DC – WH Blog, 3-7-09, Mp3
  • Obama: Time of crisis can be ‘great opportunity’: “We will get through this,” Obama said in his weekly radio and video address, taped Friday after another week of downbeat news. “We’ve experienced great trials before, And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper — to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis. That is what we can and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do.”….
    “What I don’t think people should do is suddenly stuff money in their mattresses and pull back completely from spending,” Obama told the newspaper in an interview posted on its Web site Saturday. “I don’t think that people should be fearful about our future. I don’t think that people should suddenly mistrust all of our financial institutions because the overwhelming majority of them actually have managed things reasonably well.”….
    “From the day I took office, I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, nor would it happen overnight,” Obama said in the weekly address. “And we will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead. But I also believe that we will get through this — that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before.” – AP, 3-7-09
  • Obama: US should reach out to Taliban moderates: “But you’ve seen conditions deteriorate over the last couple of years. The Taliban is bolder than it was. I think … in the southern regions of the country, you’re seeing them attack in ways that we have not seen previously.”… “The national government still has not gained the confidence of the Afghan people. And so it’s going to be critical for us to not only, get through these national elections to stabilize the security situation, but we’ve got to recast our policy so that our military, diplomatic and development goals are all aligned to ensure that al-Qaida and extremists that would do us harm don’t have the kinds of safe havens that allow them to operate.”… “If you talk to Gen. Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us.”…. “There could be situations — and I emphasize ‘could be’ because we haven’t made a determination yet — where, let’s say that we have a well-known al-Qaida operative that doesn’t surface very often, appears in a third country with whom we don’t have an extradition relationship or would not be willing to prosecute, but we think is a very dangerous person.” – AP, 3-7-09
  • Sen. McCain: ‘Generational Theft’ Being Committed With Big Government Spending: Well, it is impossible for anyone to predict the market, but I think two things. One, America will come out of this. We will. There is no doubt about it. There have been worse times, not many, and this is a terrible time, but we will come out of it, but I think the market might be reacting because they have not confidence yet that the Obama administration is taking the necessary steps to cure the housing market and to bring about an economic recovery. They do not have confidence that the government is taking sufficient steps early enough that they are sort of playing catch-up.
    I think two things. One is that these steps have not been taken early enough. They always seem to be reacting to circumstances rather than anticipating. The second thing is that we are laying a debt on future generations of Americans, which is unconscionable. We are committing generational theft when we just keep spending hundreds of billions and even trillions of dollars at a time.
    We will continue to fight. There are 9,000 earmarks in it. Incredibly, the president and his chief of staff and director of his budget of OMD have both said this is last year’s business. It is this year’s business. It is this is this year’s spending, this year’s debt and this year’s pork barrel projects which breeds corruption, and we have former members of Congress convicted, in prison, and it is all because to a large degree — because of this earmark, pork barrel spending, which is – just, I cannot describe to you have a terrible it is, and the American people are tightening their belts and having to make tough decisions. Meanwhile, it is business as usual here in the Congress. $2 million for astronomy awareness in Hawaii.
    I think a lot of them are, but there are appropriators, Republicans, a number of them, who are on the Appropriations Committee, who consistently vote against our efforts to curtail this outrageous spending, and again I want to point out the reason we did not have a bill last year is that the Democrats would not pass these bills last year. They wanted to wait until this year so they could get a better deal, and this bill is eight percent more spending than we did last year in the toughest of times, and there are 9,000 pork barrel projects on it. It is as bad as anything as I have seen around here, given the economy of the country….
    Well, the president said he wants to work on reform. It is long overdue. We need to work on reform, and he will face some of the greatest resistance from his own party, who have said, majority leader and Congressman Steny Hoyer’s said, “We are not going to change. It is our prerogative.”….
    Forty percent Republican earmarks. Republicans let’s spending get completely out of control. We paid a very heavy penalty for it in the last election because we did not stick to our principles.
    I think you are going to see a real revolt out there on the part of the voters. We are seeing an increase in the independent voter registration. Americans are very fed up. Look at new low approval ratings for Congress. We either act or they are going to elect people who will act responsibly.

    If we keep this up, two things, I think, are going to happen. At some point the Chinese may stop buying our debt. The second thing that’s going to happen, if we keep printing money, trillions of dollars worth that we don’t have, then it is going to cause hyperinflation. And that inflation is the greatest enemy of the middle-income Americans, because they are on a fixed income. And it has happened in the past. It would not be the first time that governments got into such deep debt that they printed more money, and the currency was debased. I worry a great deal about it when we are laying these multi- trillion dollar debts on future generations of Americans. – Fox News, 3-5-09

  • Karl Rove: Obama, not Bush, is to blame for the financial crisis: “It makes them look small and churlish. And hastens the moment in which people say, you know what, it is your problem. And frankly, it is their problem in many respects…. he president and every Democrat worth his or her salt were out today saying the old guy’s numbers, the old guy’s job losses, the old guy’s recession. When will it be their recession?” – Dallas Morning News, 3-6-09
  • Barack Obama “Rebuilding America, town by town”: This city of Columbus needs the courage and the commitment of this graduating class to keep it safe, to make sure that people have the protection that they need. This economy needs your employment to keep it running. Just this morning we learned that we lost another 651,000 jobs throughout the country in the month of February alone, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to an astounding 4.4 million.
    Four point four million jobs. I don’t need to tell the people of this state what statistics like this mean, because so many of you have been watching jobs disappear long before this recession hit….
    In Savannah, Georgia, the police department would use this funding to hire more crime and intelligence analysts and put more cops on the beat protecting our schools. In Long Beach, California, it will be able to help fund 17,000 hours of overtime for law enforcement officials who are needed in high-crime areas. West Haven, Connecticut will be able to restore crime prevention programs that were cut, even though they improved the quality of life in the city’s most troubled neighborhoods. And the state of Iowa will be able to rehire drug enforcement….
    So for those who still doubt the wisdom of our recovery plan, I ask them to talk to the teachers who are still able to teach our children because we passed this plan. I ask them to talk to the nurses who are still able to care for our sick, and the firefighters and first responders who will still be able to keep our communities safe. I ask them to come to Ohio and meet the 25 men and women who will soon be protecting the streets of Columbus because we passed this plan. (Applause.) I look at these young men and women, I look into their eyes and I see their badges today and I know we did the right thing. – WH Blog, 3-7-09
  • Obama orders overhaul of ‘broken’ US contracting: “Far too often, the spending is plagued by massive cost overruns, outright fraud, and the absence of oversight and accountability…. It starts with reforming our broken system of government contracting. There is a fundamental public trust that we must uphold. The American people’s money must be spent to advance their priorities, not to line the pockets of contractors or to maintain projects that don’t work.” – AP, 3-4-09
  • Britain PM Gordon Brown: US must lead on economy, climate change: “We should seize this moment because never before have I seen a world willing to come together so much, never before has that been more needed.”… Brown pushed lawmakers to embrace his “global New Deal” plan for overhauling the rules of international finance and share the wealth of a world economy he promised would double over the next 20 years. President Barack Obama’s historic election has given “the whole world renewed hope in itself,” he said, adding that “now more than ever the rest of the world wants to work with you” including “your friend Europe.”… “Should we succumb to a race to the bottom and to a protectionism that history tells us that in the end protects no one? No.”… “I believe you, the nation that had the vision to put a man on the moon, are also the nation with a vision to protect and preserve our planet Earth.”… “Our shared message to Iran, it is simple: We are ready for you to rejoin the international community, but first you must cease your threats and suspend your nuclear programs.”… AFP, 3-4-09
  • REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND BRITISH PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN AFTER MEETING: “Where are the Brits? They’re over there,” President Obama said, playfully, during a press Q&A following a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
    “In fact, they’re everywhere,” Prime Minister Brown replied. And in that spirit of Anglo-American equity, the President and Prime Minister took questions from reporters from both sides of the pond.
    “I think that there are a set of shared values and shared assumptions between us,” President Obama said said during a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “That we believe in the free market, we believe in a government that is not overbearing and allows entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive, but we also share a common belief that there have to be sufficient regulatory structures in place so that the market doesn’t spin out of control.” – WH Blog, 3-3-09
  • President Obama to PBS’ “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” in an interview “Analysis: Obama embracing crisis as opportunity”: “I think that we are at an extraordinary moment that is full of peril but full of possibility, and I think that’s the time you want to be president,” Obama told PBS’ “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” in an interview Friday. “I think there’s a sense that right now we are having to make some very big decisions that will help determine the direction of this country, and in ways large and small the direction of the world for the next generation. “And I won’t lie to you. I wish that they weren’t all having to be made at once. It would nice to be able to stage them on one another,” Obama added. – AP, 3-2-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

President Obama at the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class

White House photo 3/6/09 by Pete Souza

Jobs in Ohio

Today the President went to Ohio for the Graduation of the Columbus Police Division’s 114th Class. The bad economic numbers are more than statistics there, but the recovery act did bring some good news.

Learn More

President Barack Obama and White House Domestic Advisor Melody Barnes listen as firefighter Travis Ulerick of Dublin, Ind., addresses the White House Forum on Health Reform, Thursday, March 5, 2009, in the East Room at the White House.

White House photo 3/5/09 by Pete Souza

White House Forum on Health Reform

The forum was a major step in the monumental, transparent, imperative process to reform America’s health care system.

HealthReform.gov
Follow the live-blog

Contracting Reform

Historians’ Comments

  • Bruce Buchanan “Obama taking big political risk with budget”: “What you’ve got is a context that makes a very ambitious budget strategy possible in a way that wouldn’t be possible in times we would call normal,” said Bruce Buchanan, a presidential scholar at the University of Texas. “This is a rare moment.” – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-8-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama taking big political risk with budget”: As it is, taking on health care, global warming and a major increase in spending on education and social programs all at once is “a huge political risk,” said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “In 2004, we forget, Bush looked as strong as any president,” Zelizer said, until he took on just one issue, Social Security, and failed. – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-8-09
  • Bruce Schulman “Obama taking big political risk with budget”: By reaching so high, Obama’s fortunes rest on the economy. “If the economy recovers and there’s prosperity in 2011, he’ll beat any Republican,” said Boston University historian Bruce Schulman. “If not, many, many Republicans could beat him.” – San Francisco Chronicle, 3-8-09
  • David Frum “Why Rush is Wrong”: The party of Buckley and Reagan is now bereft and dominated by the politics of Limbaugh. A conservative’s lament. – Newsweek, 3-7-09
  • Robert Dallek “Will Obama Be a President Defined by War?”: It’s the unfinished agendas of domestic reformers that have lately been on the minds of presidential historians like Robert Dallek. Dallek has in recent months become a Cassandra about Obama’s plans for reform, prophesying the potential undoing of Obama’s domestic agenda by affairs abroad. He tends to reference the foreboding historical adage, “war kills reform.”… “If Obama gets drawn too deeply into Afghanistan it can be very destructive to his reform agenda,” Dallek said. – Real Clear Politics, 3-2-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Will Obama Be a President Defined by War?”: “American history teaches us that the world has a way of unexpectedly catching a president’s attention and priority,” said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University. “Not only do presidents have limited power to control the economy but limited power to predict the economy,” Lichtman said. – Real Clear Politics, 3-2-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Will Obama use ‘Facebook politics’?”: The battle over the federal budget is about to begin. President Obama has laid out an ambitious agenda…. As the president pushes for Congress to enact his budget, he is unlikely to receive much Republican support. The vote over the first economic stimulus bill revealed that partisanship is alive and well in Washington. In addition, the budget proposal will open the president up to the familiar Republican attack of being a tax-and- spend liberal. Obama should not underestimate how effective such criticism can be. He can just ask Bill Clinton, who saw Republicans take over Congress in 1994 following the defeat of his health care proposal….
    Using what might be called “Facebook politics,” the netroots could raise money to campaign against opponents of Obama’s budget proposals. They might also encourage volunteers to explain and promote Obama’s policies to their neighbors. They could also provide a forum to counteract Republican attacks, and remind senators of the kind of voter turnout they might encounter in the midterm elections if they decide to stand in the way of Obama’s program. Of course, Republicans could counter with their own Web-based politics, but so far they have lagged behind the Democrats. When Obama proposed the economic stimulus legislation in January, he didn’t really use Facebook politics and instead relied on an inside-the-beltway approach. He let legislators hammer out the details without heavy-handed presidential intervention….
    If Obama can show that Facebook politics is as organizationally strong as the party politics of yesteryear, then he would on to something big. Not only would the president be able to tap into a powerful political army that could pressure legislators into supporting his agenda, but he very well could introduce a new paradigm for governance, one that would remain a model for future presidents. On the other hand, when he calls on the netroots to support him against those pesky senators, he might learn that many of his virtual supporters have already clicked onto another page. – CNN, 3-2-09
  • Leo Ribuffo “Analysis: Obama embracing crisis as opportunity”: “Whenever there’s a crisis in American life, whoever is in charge has used it for a backlogged agenda,” said Leo Ribuffo, a history professor at George Washington University. “This is what leaders are supposed to do: take advantage of the situation to do what they think is good for the country.” – AP, 3-2-09
  • Robert Dallek “The First 100 Days: Lyndon Johnson Fulfilled Kennedy’s Legacy Johnson wanted to assure the country that he would carryout the policies of his predecessor”: “By contrast with Mr. Obama, Johnson had no mandate to govern except for being vice president. No one expected a Southern politician to suddenly replace the youngest man ever elected to the White House. . . . Johnson understood that his greatest initial challenge was to provide reassurance—to convince not just Americans but people around the world, who looked to the United States for leadership in the cold war, that he could measure up to the standard JFK had set as an effective president at home and abroad.” – US News & World Report, 3-5-09
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August 18, 2008: The Lull Before the Conventions

The week that was….

  • August 16, 2008: After returning from a over week long vacation in Hawaii, Democratic candidate Barack Obama met with his rival Republican candidate John McCain in a “two-hour forum on faith, the Compassion Forum hosted by the minister Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California.”
    Obama raised more than $51 million in July,
  • August 15, 2008: McCain raised $27 million in July, his largest one month total.
  • August 14, 2008: In attempt to unite the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton’s name will ceremonially be placed on the nomination ballot during the delegate roll call, as an acknowledgment of her historical run, and to please Clinton supporters, and “honor and celebrate these voices and votes.”
    The International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed Obama during their national convention in Las Vegas.
  • August 13, 2008: Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner will deliver the keynote speech at Democratic convention.
  • August 12, 2008: Obama took time out of his Hawaii vacation for a fundraiser for home state supporters that earned $1.3 million for his campaign.
    Two books written against Barack Obama were released “The Obama Nation” and “The Case Against Barack Obama.”
  • August 11, 2008: Both McCain and Obama called for Europe to rally against Russia during the country’s assault on Georgia.
    Obama released a commerical in response to McCain’s own ad that potrayed Obama as a celebrity akin to Paris Hilton and Britney, this was Obama’s second response to the McCain ad.
    A new Atlantic magazine report claims Mark Penn, a top Hillary Clinton adviser, wanted Clinton to paint Obama as un-American and having questionable “roots to basic American values and culture.”
    The Obama campaign sent out an e-mail to supporters allowing them to sign up to receive an e-mail or text-message as soon as the Democratic candidate announces his choice for a Vice-Presidential running mate.

    The Stats

  • August 8, 2008: A RealClearPolitics poll has Obama with 46.9% support compared to McCain’s 43.3%. Guardian, UK, 8-9-08

    Historians’ Comments

  • Carina Rey: Africa: Obama And US Foreign Policy – AllAfrica.com, Washington, 8-15-08
  • Gil Troy: Clinton’s Revenge — or Obama’s Triumph? – HNN, 8-15-08
  • Hank Roth quoting Sean Wilentz: Obama’s Historical Inaccuracies “Hope, in other words, is necessary to bring about change – but it is never enough. Change also requires effective leadership inside government. – Agoravox, France, 8-11-08
  • Kenneth E. Collier on “Experience no sure sign of success as president”: “It gives us a pretty mixed verdict,” said Kenneth E. Collier, a historian and professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. “Adams had a wonderful résumé, but his temperament was just not well-suited,” said Collier. “What people are looking for is judgment. And we hope that is going to be served by experience, but often it is not. Adams is a great example of somebody who just could not overcome his pettiness.” San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE, 8-17-08
  • Stephen Hess on “Experience no sure sign of success as president”: For Stephen Hess, who has spent 50 years working for presidents and analyzing events for the Brookings Institution, there are the more important traits than experience. He recalled Oliver Wendell Holmes’ description of Franklin D. Roosevelt as “a second-rate intellect with a first-rate temperament.” “That ability to know what is important, who to pick, who to listen to, what you put first in your priorities. All of that really doesn’t come from the sort of experience you get from being in the United States Senate long term,” Hess said. San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE, 8-17-08
  • Paul F. Boller on “How to Erase That Smea…”: Still, for all the new technology, the essential text of smears today is about the same as it has always been, said Paul F. Boller Jr., a former history professor at Texas Christian University and author of “Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush.” “Religion and sex, and whether the other guy is a real ‘man,'” Mr. Boller said. “It boils down to that.” The difference now: “If Winfield Scott’s people went out and attacked Franklin Pierce as a coward,” he said, referring to the election of 1852, which Pierce won, “well in those days it took a while for that idea to get around.” – NYT, 8-16-08
  • Allan Lichtman on “McCain and Obama face questions from megachurch pastor”: American University history professor Allan Lichtman says this is more of an opportunity for Democrat Obama, since Republicans have long ago sown up the Christian conservative vote. Lichtman says Obama has a chance to make inroads into a constituency that Democrats have not been able to touch for decades. He says McCain’s appearance will also be important, since the Republican candidate not only wants Christian conservatives to vote for him – but also to campaign for him. – WIS, SC, 8-15-08
  • Leslie Harris on “RPT-When it comes to race, US politicians talk in code”: “Blacks feel like they have more responsibility for exposing and discussing racism. Whites generally feel that they don’t want to be involved,” said Leslie Harris, a history professor at Emory University in Atlanta. – Reuters, 8-14-08
  • Julian Zelizer: Giving Clinton a roll call at the convention might mollify some of those most likely to be a problem, said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The anger about their fight will exist regardless of what he does, so giving her this role and this moment might help diminish any sense that he just wants to write her out of the history of this contest,” Zelizer said. – Bloomberg, 8-14-08
  • David Roediger on “For scholars of race, an Obama dilemma”: David Roediger, a race historian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, evinced a particle more enthusiasm for Obama’s candidacy. “I feel this sometimes has something to do with something I care about and, as things go in U.S. politics, it’s not the worst thing to happen,” said Roediger, who is white. But, as he notes in the conclusion of his book “How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon,” due out this fall, “Obama does not represent the triumph of an advancing anti-racist movement but rather the necessity, at the highly refracted level of electoral politics, of abandoning old agendas, largely by not mentioning them.” – Seattle Times, 8-13-08
  • Angela Dillard on “For scholars of race, an Obama dilemma”: Angela Dillard, professor of Afro-American and African studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, concurred. “It’s an odd paradox that this will shrink even further any kind of public space to talk about race,” she said. “That shouldn’t be possible, but it is.” – Seattle Times, 8-13-08
  • Paul Street on “For scholars of race, an Obama dilemma”: “Everybody is so enticed and intrigued all at once just by the mere fact that he’s black, as if that’s enough,” said Paul Street, a Chicago labor historian now living in Iowa City, whose book “Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics” will be published this month. Yet Street, who is white, says that because Obama is black, he “can’t be particularly aggressive on race, or anything else.” – Seattle Times, 8-13-08
  • Julian E. Zelizer on “Ike’s Granddaughter Calls Obama ‘Future of America'”: “It is this very weird moment where Republicans are very divided,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “It’s accurate to say that you don’t have a dominant set of ideas or a figure the party can really rally behind. What you simply see are factions who aren’t forming to create a coherent vision.” – The Washington Independent, 8-11-08
  • Bruce Shulman on “Ike’s Granddaughter Calls Obama ‘Future of America'”: Bruce Shulman, a professor of history at Boston University and author of “The ’70S: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society and Politics,” explained the situation. He sees the factions’ dissatisfaction, but cannot see a full realignment in the offing. “Since the Reagan Revolution,” Shulman said, “you’ve seen this amazing united front by different factions that are much more at odds ideologically than the factions within the Democratic Party. They’ve all managed to put their feelings about one another aside to defeat a common enemy. I don’t think the fracturing you’re seeing now will result in large numbers of Republicans voting for Obama. But I do think you’ll see people willing to sit on their hands instead of work towards that common goal as they have in the past.” – The Washington Independent, 8-11-08
  • Alan Brinkley on “From the Chaos: Opportunity? Bush Policies May Pave Way for Democratic Reforms”: “Whoever is elected is going to inherit a terrible mess, both domestically and internationally,” said Alan Brinkley, an American history professor and the provost at Columbia University. “But when things get really bad, there’s often an opportunity for change … I don’t rule out the possibility of some major reforms.” – The Washington Independent, 8-7-08
  • Nelson Lichtenstein on “From the Chaos: Opportunity? Bush Policies May Pave Way for Democratic Reforms”: “As a result of the polarization that Bush created, the Democrats are much more unified,” said Nelson Lichtenstein, a history professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of “American Capitalism.” ” There will be a big legislative push [next year].” “An Obama administration is going to have a lot of support across the board for a fairly radical shift [on Iraq],” he said. But on issues like health-care and labor reform — where there’s less public immediacy and the lines were drawn long before Bush came on the scene — Democrats will be less successful. The civil-rights movement, Lichtenstein said, was not just stirred by the fervent speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., there was the palpable urgency of riots in the streets. “Today, we don’t have that,” he said. “The blogosphere is not the equivalent.” – The Washington Independent, 8-7-08
  • John Morton Blum on “From the Chaos: Opportunity? Bush Policies May Pave Way for Democratic Reforms”: John Morton Blum, history professor emeritus at Yale University and a Roosevelt scholar, said that these factors, combined with the entrenchment of partisan politics, will prevent any major reforms in the near future. “Everything has been done wrong for eight years,” Blum said. “Rectification will take four to six years, at a minimum. Accomplishment of something novel may prove not only politically but economically impossible. “[The pendulum] will swing back the other way, just not dramatically.” For one prominent historian, the idea of coming in after Bush is hardly a welcome one. “The next president’s going to have a hell of a time,” said Blum of Yale. “I don’t know why anyone would even want the job.” – The Washington Independent, 8-7-08

    On the Campaign Trail….

  • Barack Obama in a statement released by his campaign, 8-14-08:
    “Honoring Senator Clinton’s historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together.”
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton in a joint statement with Obama announcing the roll call at the convention: :
    “With every voice heard and the party strongly united, we will elect Senator Obama president of the United States and put our nation on the path to peace and prosperity once again.”
  • Remarks by John McCain to the 87th Annual Convention of the Disabled American Veterans:
    Though victory in Iraq is finally in sight, a great deal still depends on the decisions and good judgment of the next president. The hard-won gains of our troops hang in the balance. The lasting advantage of a peaceful and democratic ally in the heart of the Middle East could still be squandered by hasty withdrawal and arbitrary timelines. And this is one of many problems in the shifting positions of my opponent, Senator Obama.With just three months to go before the election, a lot of folks are still trying to square Senator Obama’s varying positions on the surge in Iraq. First, he opposed the surge. Then he confidently predicted that it would fail. Then he tried to prevent funding for the troops who carried out the surge. Not content to merely predict failure in Iraq, my opponent tried to legislate failure. This was back when supporting America’s efforts in Iraq entailed serious political risk. It was a clarifying moment. It was a moment when political self-interest and the national interest parted ways. For my part, with so much in the balance, it was an easy call. As I said at the time, I would rather lose an election than lose a war….

    Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines and to brave Iraqi fighters the surge has succeeded. And yet Senator Obama still can’t quite bring himself to admit his own failure in judgment. Instead, he commits the greater error of insisting that even in hindsight, he would oppose the surge. Even in retrospect, he would choose the path of retreat and failure for America over the path of success and victory. Behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president. What’s missing is the judgment to be commander in chief.

    In short, both candidates in this election pledge to end this war and bring our troops home. The great difference is that I intend to win it first.

    It will also fall to the next commander in chief to make good on the obligation our government accepts every time any man or woman enters the proud ranks of the United States military, and again when they receive their DD 214. Those we depend on as troops should know, when they become veterans, that they can depend on us. …

    As president, I will do all that is in my power to ensure that those who serve today, and those who have served in the past, have access to the highest quality health, mental health and rehabilitative care in the world. And I will not accept a situation in which veterans are denied access to care on account of travel distances, backlogs of appointments, and years of pending disability evaluation and claims. We should no longer tolerate requiring veterans to make an appointment to stand in one line for a ticket to stand in another. And it’s even worse if the line winds eventually to substandard care for America’s veterans.

June 9, 2008: Hillary Concedes, Obama Cliches Democratic Nomination

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH

The week that was….

June 3, 2008: The Presidential campaign primaries end, Barack Obama reaches the number necessary to capture the Democratic Nomination. However, Hillary Clinton, chooses not to concede on the same night.

June 4, 2008: Hillary Clinton’s campaign announces she will suspend her candidacy, and will have a rally on Saturday June 7, 2008 to concede and endorse Obama’s nomination

June 4-5, 2008: Hilary Clinton’s key supporters call for a “dream ticket” with Clinton as the Vice Presidential candidate. Obama will not commit.

June 6, 2008: Clinton and Obama have what should have been a secret meeting to discuss the terms of Clinton’s endorsement.

June 7, 2008: Hillary Clintons throws her total support behind Obama’s candidacy and urges her supporters to do the same.

The Stats

NYT — Primary Season Election Results

Democrats Delegate Count (AP) :

Barak Obama: Pledged: 1,765 — Superdelegates: 425 — Total: 2,190

Hilary Clinton: Pledged: 1,640 — Superdelegates: 274 — Total: 1,914

Historians Comments

  • Professor James Taylor, who teaches politics and African American history at the University of San Francisco on “Obama faces tough task healing rift with women”:
    “Winning over the women is a real challenge. This will be a sad day when Hillary Clinton steps down for a lot of people, because … a whole generation of women thought it would be possible in their lifetime to see a woman administer the American state.” Many feminists believe Clinton was the focus of unforgivable sexism during the race – such as charges that she was “shrill” and an excessive focus on her clothing and emotions – and they are inclined to blame Obama, he said. “Women will have to forgive,” he said. “They will have to ask themselves: Are they even angrier now than when George Bush was elected in 2004? “Even though Barack isn’t responsible … for the sexism Hillary has experienced, many people supporting him have done it,” he said. So “it’s a soul-searching moment for Americans in general.” –

    San Francisco Chronicle, 6-6-08

  • Professor James Taylor on “Obama: Triumphant end to long primary season”:
    “This is perhaps the second greatest moment in African American history – symbolically right up there with the abolition of slavery,” said Professor James Taylor, who teaches politics and African American history at the University of San Francisco. “It will have tremendous effect across the world … overnight, the world will exhale and say, ‘My God, America has done something different, unprecedented.’ ” – San Francisco Chronicle, 6-4-08
  • Simon Sheppard, Boston University: Hillary, Continued A poli-sci prof talks about what comes next Interview – BU Today, 6-5-08
  • Larry Sabato, University of Virginia political professor on “What Went Wrong for Hillary”: “They thought they were going to knock Obama and everybody else out of the box with the first few primaries and caucuses, and they were just dead wrong.” – Voice of America, 6-6-08
  • Bruce Miroff, a professor of political science at the State University of New York at Albany on “What Went Wrong for Hillary”:
    The seeds of defeat for the Clinton campaign may have been planted as early as 2002, when Senator Clinton voted in favor of waging war in Iraq. Although she later renounced support for the war, that vote may have put Clinton at a disadvantage against Obama, who opposed the war from the start. “Because Hillary Clinton voted for the resolution in 2002 authorizing President Bush to use military force in Iraq, there was always the likelihood that there would be a significant anti-war challenger to her in the Democratic primaries, and that a lot of the activist base of the party would rally behind such a challenger. So the premise that Hillary was a kind of inevitable nominee was always questionable,” he said. Voice of America, 6-6-08
  • Patricia Turner, professor of African-American studies at the University of California, Davis on “Young voters: Obama’s race as an asset, non-issue”:“Obama’s race is just one factor that makes him more accessible to younger voters. She recalls a conversation at a recent university dinner where her table included a few Asian-American students and a white woman in her 30s who was married to a man of mixed race. Asked what struck them about Obama, they listed everything from his age and rearing by a single mother to the fact that he is biracial. “There’s something about the sophisticated and complex ethnic identity that resonates with younger voters as well,” says Turner, who is black. “Younger people are able to say ‘we’ — and that ‘we’ includes Barack Obama.” For Turner, the progress made is notable and moving. At age 52, she has vivid memories of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. So Obama’s candidacy is a reminder of how far the nation has come. “There have been times in the Obama campaign when I think, ‘I wish Dad could’ve seen that’ or ‘I wish my mother were here’ to just see him holding his own,” Turner says of her parents, who are no longer living. “They would have been proud.” – AP, 6-6-08
  • Bruce Schulman, a political historian at Boston University on “Clinton vows to work hard to get Obama elected”: “She can certainly run an I-told-you-so campaign four years from now, and she might have a strong chance to win the nomination then.” – San Francisco Chronicle, 6-8-08
  • Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University on “Clinton vows to work hard to get Obama elected”: Unlike Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, Clinton has lost a primary, not the general election, and so is not perceived “as the one who lost it for the party,” said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “So I think that actually helps her in terms of her future. The party’s not going to blame her if things go wrong in November.” – San Francisco Chronicle, 6-8-08
  • Who Said Senators Can’t Be President? Never Before Have Two Sitting Senators Run Head To Head As Major Party Nominees – CBS News, 6-5-08

The Candidates Comments:

Barack Obama, Final Primary Night, June 3, 2008:

Tonight, after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.

Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

…All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren’t the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn’t do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America….

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

John McCain, Remarks in light of Obama’s Presumptive Nominee Status, June 3, 2008:

…Tonight, we can say with confidence the primary season is over, and the general election campaign has begun. I commend both Senators Obama and Clinton for the long, hard race they have run. Senator Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign. Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend. Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent. He will be a formidable o ne. But I’m ready for the challenge, and determined to run this race in a way that does credit to our campaign and to the proud, decent and patriotic people I ask to lead.

The decision facing Americans in this election couldn’t be more important to the future security and prosperity of American families. This is, indeed, a change election. No matter who wins this election, the direction of this country is going to change dramatically. But, the choice is between the right change and the wrong change; between going forward and going backward.…

The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas. Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of change doesn’t trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests. It’s the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency and common sense of free people. That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that’s not change we can believe in….

I have seen Republicans and Democrats achieve great things together. When the stakes were high and it mattered most, I’ve seen them work together in common purpose, as we did in the weeks after September 11th. This kind of cooperation has made all the difference at crucial turns in our history. It has given us hope in difficult times. It has moved America forward. And that, my friends, is the kind of change we need right now.

Hillary Clinton, Remarks in Washington, DC, June 7, 2008:

“…It is this belief, this optimism, that Senator Obama and I share, and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard.

So today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes we can….

…As we gather here today in this historic magnificent building, the 50th woman to leave this Earth is orbiting overhead. If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House.

Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time. That has always been the history of progress in America.

Think of the suffragists who gathered at Seneca Falls in 1848 and those who kept fighting until women could cast their votes. Think of the abolitionists who struggled and died to see the end of slavery. Think of the civil rights heroes and foot-soldiers who marched, protested and risked their lives to bring about the end to segregation and Jim Crow.

Because of them, I grew up taking for granted that women could vote. Because of them, my daughter grew up taking for granted that children of all colors could go to school together. Because of them, Barack Obama and I could wage a hard fought campaign for the Democratic nomination. Because of them, and because of you, children today will grow up taking for granted that an African American or a woman can yes, become President of the United States.

When that day arrives and a woman takes the oath of office as our President, we will all stand taller, proud of the values of our nation, proud that every little girl can dream and that her dreams can come true in America. And all of you will know that because of your passion and hard work you helped pave the way for that day.

So I want to say to my supporters, when you hear people saying – or think to yourself – “if only” or “what if,” I say, “please don’t go there.” Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.

Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next President and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort….”

Barack Obama, Reactions to Hillary Clinton’s Endorsement:

“Obviously, I am thrilled and honored to have Senator Clinton’s support. But more than that, I honor her today for the valiant and historic campaign she has run. She shattered barriers on behalf of my daughters and women everywhere, who now know that there are no limits to their dreams. And she inspired millions with her strength, courage and unyielding commitment to the cause of working Americans. Our party and our country are stronger because of the work she has done throughout her life, and I’m a better candidate for having had the privilege of competing with her in this campaign. No one knows better than Senator Clinton how desperately America and the American people need change, and I know she will continue to be in the forefront of that battle this fall and for years to come.”

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