The Collegian
Saturday, December 10, 2022

Obama and V.P. contender Kaine campaign in Richmond

Sen. Obama begins his speech.
Sen. Obama begins his speech.

CHESTER, Va. -- Barack Obama campaigned at John Tyler Community College with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine Thursday morning, addressing the troubled U.S. economy and reinforcing what he said would be a commitment to fight for the American people.

"I want to wake up every day in the White House thinking about you and how to make your lives better," said Obama, a U.S. Senator from Illinois.

He contrasted his plans for revitalizing the economy with the plans of Republican candidate John McCain. He said he would work to help those at the bottom of the economic ladder instead of those at the top.

"McCain has a compelling personal story because he'' a prisoner of war," he said. "We have to honor that service. But the fact is that John McCain is offering more of the same."

He depicted his opponent as a second President George W. Bush and argued that there was a gap between McCain's world and the lives of ordinary people. While he emphasized the economy, Obama also touched on education, the environment, the war in Iraq and health care.

"We're entitled to excellence," Kaine said before introducing Obama to a crowd of about 150 people outdoors. "That's what Senator Obama has shown."

He explained he believed Obama would be a unifier who would effect change. "Obama has the interests of the United States at heart," Kaine said.

Though speculation is swirling around Kaine as a possible vice presidential running mate, Obama made no indication during the speech about his decision.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama said he had decided on a running mate, but declined to name his choice. He is planning to announce his choice in an e-mail or text message to supporters sometime before Saturday afternoon, when he's scheduled to appear with his pick in Illinois.

"I've been running for president for 19 months," Obama said, "and people ask me what I've learned about America." He said he was awed by the size of the United States and by the self-reliance of its people, but that he understood their worries about what he called "anxious times."

When a member of the audience questioned him about his lack of foreign policy experience, Obama said he had been against the war from the beginning. "I have been right more than [McCain] has, for all the time he's spent in Washington," Obama said.

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He also said his opponent did not have a commitment to education and had not been a leader with energy issues.

Obama criticized the No Child Left Behind law, saying it "left the money behind." He described his plan to provide a $4,000 tax credit toward college tuition for students who complete national or community service.

He also said if he were elected president he would evaluate every government program's efficiency.

"I have great people advising me," he said. "I don't know everything. We have to build trust between people and their government. You have to feel like somebody is listening to you. This election is not about me, but about you -- your hope, your dreams."

The Democratic National Convention is slated to begin Monday in Denver, where former Gov. Mark R. Warner, a candidate for U.S. Senate, will be the keynote speaker. There, Obama will be formally declared the Democratic candidate for November's general election.

Obama campaigned with Warner in Martinsville on Wednesday and stopped in Lynchburg to campaign with Sen. Jim Webb. He completed his two-day tour of Virginia at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake Thursday afternoon.

Virginia has been widely considered a swing state with its 13 electoral votes up for grabs in November. It could be Obama's ticket to winning the election, but Virginians have not elected a Democratic president since Linden B. Johnson in 1964.

Analysts say that Obama's decision to feature Mark Warner as the convention's keynote speaker shows the candidate's acknowledgment that he wants to win Virginia. Kaine, meanwhile, is being mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate along with Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

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