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Obama takes San Francisco by storm

Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama
brought an audience of supporters to their feet during a campaign speech
at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco today.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Ari Burack

September 7, 2007

Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Barack Obama electrified a crowd of supporters in downtown San Francisco today, at a campaign stop focused on cultivating backing from women and young voters.

"I am overwhelmed," Obama told an often raucous, jubilant crowd of about 3,000 people gathered this afternoon at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. "San Francisco, you do not play!"

The event, sponsored by Women for Obama and Generation Obama, raised an estimated $400,000, and drew upon familiar themes in Obama's grassroots campaign: working families, education, universal health care, energy independence and the Iraq war.

"Women have always made the difference, in every election," he told the audience, which included Women for Obama co-chair San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

"Change begins by bringing an end to the policies of the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Gonzalez administration," Obama began. The administration "treats our Constitution as a nuisance, as opposed to the foundation of our democracy," said the former constitutional lawyer.

Obama faces a strong challenge for Democratic votes in California from U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who has already received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, among others.

"People in California want change and experience," Clinton campaign spokesman Luiz Vizcaino said today. "Hillary Clinton is the candidate with the experience to bring change," he said.

According to Vizcaino, in an Aug. 17 Field Poll of California Democrats, Clinton received the support of 49 percent of voters, while Obama received 19 percent. Women in the poll supported Clinton over Obama by a margin of 50 to 21 percent, Vizcaino said.

Without mentioning Clinton by name, Obama drew distinctions today with his closest fundraising competitor, and deflected criticisms that he lacks experience.

Obama touted his refusal to take money from lobbyists and political action committees for his presidential campaign, which Clinton has publicly refused to do.

The 46-year-old Obama noted his nearly two decades of public service as a community activist, constitutional law professor and state senator, before arriving in Washington D.C. in 2004.

Obama challenged what he called "the same-old politics" of both parties in the nation's capitol.

"Oh, there he goes, talking about hope again, he's so naive," said Obama, parroting his critics. "I stand guilty as charged. I'm hopeful about America."

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld's extensive experience in Washington D.C. "led us into the worst foreign policy disaster of our generation," Obama said. "Time served does not guarantee good judgment. A resume says nothing about your character."

Addressing some of his specific policy plans, Obama announced that he would pass a universal health care plan by the end of his first term as president.

He added that he would raise fuel efficiency standards for cars, and put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions; provide a "world-class" education for every American child while recruiting "an army" of new, more highly paid teachers; and invest in early childhood education and push to make a college education available and affordable to the less privileged.

Obama further declared his support for a living wage for workers, rights for women in the workplace, and an elimination of tax breaks for companies that only do business overseas.

The first thing he would do as president, Obama declared, would be to end the war in Iraq.

"There is no military solution to the problems in Iraq," Obama said. There has to be a political solution."

Obama moves on to Southern California Saturday, where he will attend a fundraiser in Santa Barbara during the afternoon and an evening fundraiser hosted by Oprah Winfrey, perhaps his most high-profile supporter to date, at her Montecito home.

California's primary election takes place Feb. 5.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.





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