Obama talks issues at Google
By Jason Bennert
November 15, 2007
When Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama came to
Google headquarters yesterday, he not only attracted a visibly
larger audience than any previous candidate but also two of the
world's richest men, company founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Obama told the assembled Google employees he will win the presidency
next year by "being straight with the American people."
"Democrats lose when they are not clear on what they stand
for," Obama said. "The problem we have is when we get
defensive. And we are not sure about our beliefs or convictions."
Obama did not hesitate to offer specifics during the forum, which
was streamed and is available for download on Google's YouTube
site. He said as president he would have American combat troops
out of Iraq in approximately 16 months.
"We can safely bring out 1 to 2 brigades per month,"
The freshman U.S. Senator from Illinois also promised to negotiate
directly with Iran if elected and he criticized his opponents,
without mentioning any specific candidates, who have rejected
"The notion that not talking to our enemies makes us look
tough I think is fundamentally flawed. It makes us look arrogant,"
Obama, like every major presidential candidate that comes to
Silicon Valley, promised his presidency would increase broadband
access nationwide and make more H-1B visas available for foreign
The response to Obama appeared to be more enthusiastic among
the Google employees. More than 1,500 people crowded into a Google
auditorium to hear Obama this afternoon, the largest audience
ever for a presidential candidate, according to a company spokeswoman.
Brin and Page were also visible in the audience, which was not
the case previously when candidates appeared at company forums
open to the media.
Former California State Controller Steve Westly, now a co-chairman
of Obama's California campaign, said Obama's getting stronger
as more California residents begin to pay attention to the presidential
"I think he's got huge momentum building," Westly said.
Obama only took one question from a reporter as he was leaving
the Google event. The reporter was journalism student Allison
Tam, 10, of Saratoga. She asked him what he would do about contaminated
toys being imported from China and other countries.
"I would have our safety inspectors go to those countries,"
Obama told Allison.