Barack Obama Returns to New Hampshire! (W/Pictures) - Live From New Hampshire: Presidential Primary 2008!
Barack Obama Returns to New Hampshire! (W/Pictures) -
Live From New Hampshire: Presidential Primary 2008!
Senator Barack Obama returned to New Hampshire as an official candidate for president yesterday.
Two hours before the start of Obama's town meeting with New Hampshire voters a crowd of eager
youngsters had already gathered outside the doors, huddling together for warmth. UNH students
David Schultz, 20, and Sarah Grandmaison, 19, eagerly awaited the opening of the doors and a shot
at the "good seats" as they discussed Mr. Obama and the upcoming presidential election.
Â Â Â "Torn and not as torn," were the words the pair used to describe their preferences in the
race. Grandmaison said she could support either Mr. Obama or his primary opponent, Hillary
Clinton, because both have taken positions against the war. Grandmaison was also concerned about
the high cost of college tuition and the availability of financial aid for students.Â High tuition rates
had forced her to leave her first college and she had spent a few months out school and living
without health insurance. Schultz said that he had been a fan of Hillary Clinton since the 2004
campaign and would likely support her in the primary, but that as a responsible voter he would
listen to all of the candidates before making up his mind.
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Â The faces outside the Field House were predominantly under 30, with about a third of those
gathered hailing from older generations. Carrie Black, a 27 year old from Vermont and a graduate
student studying nursing at UNH, had already knew which candidate she would support. "Obama.
Absolutely." Black worried about the rising costs of health care and the increasing number of
uninsured Americans. The war also stood out among her top issues. In the last election Black
supported Howard Dean in the primaries and voted for John Kerry in the general election.
Â Â Plymouth State University student Matt Balf also voiced support for Mr. Obama and stated
that his relative inexperience in Washington was an asset. Balf went on to compare Obama's
candidacy to that of Robert Kennedy in the 1960's. He cited Mr. Obama's youth, fluency, vision, and
charisma as characteristics shared by the Kennedy during his tragically abbreviated bid for the
presidency. Stacey Johnsons, a 29 year old New Hampshire based web designer, chimed in to
compliment Mr. Obama for his honesty, "He is an open book." Johnson felt Obama also resembled a
1992 style Bill Clinton in his ability to inspire hope among younger voters. Allison Schmidt, a 24-
year-old teacher from the Granite State, also supports Mr. Obama. "I support the fact he talks about
people making sacrifices. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. It won't change withoutÂ Â
Â Â Â Nearby, John Thing of New Hampshire for Healthcare stood outside handing out signs and
stickers reading, "I am a Healthcare Voter". New Hampshire for Healthcare is affiliated with the
Service Employees International Unions and currently claims to have collected around 60,000
signatures in the state. Signers pledge to only support candidates who will work to increase
hurricane windows coral springs access to affordable, quality healthcare. The group did not endorse
a candidate during the last presidential primary, and Thing did not think they would this time
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When the doors were finally opened a capacity crowd slowly filled the gymnasium, where the size-
able press entourage currently tailing Barack Obama had already set up shop. In timely fashion Mr.
Obama took his place on the stage to overwhelming applause and a frenzy of campaign signs and
American flags."Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when given the chance," stated the
confidently poised candidate. "That is one of the founding principles of our democracy." Obama
launched into a typically fluent speech, stating that the high cost of healthcare in America today
threatens the potential of everyday families, small businesses, and even the well being of the biggest
corporations. He talked about education, stating that schools in America would improve when the
nation invests in more teachers, and pays them more. He also proposed that the nation's current
energy policy was the equivalent of "funding both sides in the war on terror" and called for
increased investment in alternative fuels like ethanol. Closing his brief introductory statements he
said,"I hope this campaign becomes a vehicle for your hopes and dreams."
Â Â Â Turning to the crowd he fielded a question from a member of Priorities New Hampshire.
The group is part of a broader "Priorities" movement that has called for reduced spending on
defense. Cuts in funding would target obsolete Cold War era programs and the money saved would
then be used to fund increases in social spending on health care and education. "Federal budgets
are all about our priorities," Barack commented. "They reflect our values." But Obama iterated his
belief that it would be necessary to increase spending on the military first, in order to bring it back
to its pre-war levels of excellence. Mr. Obama stated that America will have to rebuild the National
Guard, which has lost equipment and soldiers overseas. He emphasized the Guard's role in disaster
relief, stating that failure to act would only lead to another crisis on par with the one currently being
experienced in New Orleans. But he added that a well-reasoned re-allocation of funding from non-
vital to vital areas of the budget was necessary, a statement which drew applause from efficiency
Â Â Â Another question from the audience pointed out Mr. Obama's relative lack of experience in
Washington. Obama seized on the opportunity to point out the advantage this lack of experience
gives him over other candidates. "I have been in Washington for two years. I have been in
Washington for long enough to know that Washington needs to change." He also pointed to his 10
years of experience as a professor of constitutional law as an asset, saying that he knows the
constitution has been ignored for the past six years. Obama also pointed to his experiences as an
activist, a teacher, and his service as a state senator for seven years in Illinois as evidence that he is
well prepared to understand the problems facing America today.
Â Â Â Asked about gay marriage, Barack Obama told the crowd that his opinion on the matter is
informed by his experience as the son of a mixed-race couple. While it may not be possible to
legalize gay marriage, it would be possible - and right - to grant gays and lesbians all of the benefits
enjoyed by married couples through civil unions. "We can grant all the same civil liberties to gays
and lesbians who love each other and want to get married," he said.
Â Â Â A UNH freshman prodded Mr. Obama for policy details and the candidate responded eagerly,
focusing on environmental issues. He called for a rigorous cap and trade system to reduce industrial
emissions that pollute the atmosphere and stated that there is no reason every American built car
cannot get 40 miles per gallon. Pointing to Brazil, where he claims that 70% of vehicles are powers
by alternative fuels, Mr. Obama called for investment in ethanol, stating, "If Brazil can do it, so can
Â Â Â On immigration, Mr. Obama did not hesitate to voice his opinion. "We are a nation of
immigrants. That has been the beauty of this country." He pointed to immigrants as a source of
renewal, calling them "strivers" who have reinvigorated the American economy time and time again.
But he tempered his support for illegal immigrants by differentiating between plans calling for
"amnesty" and his own plan, which calls for heavy fines against illegal aliens while still opening the
doors to eventual citizenship. Obama stated that the United States is in no position to be rounding
up the estimated 12 million illegals currently residing within our borders. He also called for the
creation of a national database, which would allow employers to verify that their employees can
legally work in the U.S.
Â Â Â Mr. Obama fielded a final question about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina before heading
off to meet his political destiny, whatever it may be. Katrina reminded Americans that having a good
government matters, Obama remarked. "There was a disaster going on before Katrina hit," pointing
to the high murder rates, rampant poverty, and detiorating education system that already existed in
New Orleans. Calling for a "living wage" and renewal in cities and poor rural communities, Barack
Obama told the crowd that hard work and ingenuity would recreate America. Mr. Obama claimed
that his only opponent in this race is cynicism. Judging from the positive reponse he recieved from
young New Hampshire voters last night, Mr. Obama may be well on his way towards beating that
The author, David W. Anderson, resides in New Hampshire. He is a 27 year old graduate student
studying Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. Mr. Anderson has spent several
years working with political campaigns and organizations in New Hampshire. You can read his
correspondent column under the tag "live from new hampshire" or at Gather Essentials: Politics and
Gather Essentials: News