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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 31, 2008

Governor Perdue Sets Election Date for 93rd House District

Today Governor Sonny Perdue issued a writ of election for the state House 93rd District seat, which was vacated last week when state Representative Ron Sailor resigned.

Pursuant to state law, the special election for the House post will be held on May 13th. If there is a runoff following the May 13 election, it would occur four weeks later, on June 10th.

State law also requires the 93rd House District seat to be up for election as part of the regular 2008 election cycle. Anyone wanting to run in the regular election cycle must separately qualify for the General Primary, which will be held July 15th. The qualifying period to participate in the General Primary is set for April 28th through May 2nd. The General Election will be held on November 4th.

A copy of the writ follows:
Due to the resignation of the Representative from the 93rd, a vacancy now exists in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Therefore, pursuant to Article V, Section II, Paragraph V of the Constitution and Section 21-2-544 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, a writ of election is hereby issued to the Secretary of State for a special election to be held on Tuesday, May 13, 2008, to fill the vacancy in District 93 of the Georgia House of Representatives.

This 27th day of March, 2008.

Governor Sonny Perdue

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nader News & Blogs with a touch of Cynthia tossed in

Cynthia McKinney wins 79% of Wisconsin Green Party Vote
Third Party Watch - USA
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney won 79% of the vote in the Wisconsin Green Party’s Presidential Preference Primary. The Primary, conducted by mail ...

Ralph Nader wants his matching funds
Third Party Watch - USA
The following is from the Ralph Nader campaign. From an editorial point-of-view, it is notable that Nader’s campaign went after John McCain, ...

Nader to Clinton: Stay in
CNN Political Ticker - USA
(CNN) – Ralph Nader, who recently announced his own 2008 presidential bid, has now also weighed in on the battle between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack ...

Nader to Clinton: “You have a right to run”
Third Party Watch - USA
This entry was posted by Stephen Gordon on Saturday, March 29th, 2008 at 8:39 am and is filed under News, Campaign 2008, Ralph Nader, Presidential Race. ...

Nader loses Isle vote law challenge
Honolulu Advertiser - Honolulu,HI,USA
By Jim Dooley Past and present US presidential candidate Ralph Nader has lost his Hawai'i Supreme Court challenge to state election law. ...

OpEd News Story on Green Party Presidential Contest
Ballot Access - San Francisco,CA,USA
It features Kent Mesplay, who says he is serious about defeating Cynthia McKinney for the nomination. Nader is an Ivy League lawyer, and Dumb Dumb Masplay ...

Cynthia McKinney Video
By Eclecticvibe(Eclecticvibe)
Cynthia McKinney Speaks on her Presidential Run. Cynthia McKinney - Green Party Presidential Candidate - Interviewed on Issues from Craig Seeman on Vimeo.
Cottage Home Grown - http://cottagehomegrown.blogspot.com/

Quixotic Nader'll find going's tough in Texas
Austin American-Statesman - Austin,TX,USA
Ralph Nader, the independent and third-party presidential candidate bitterly cursed for spoiling the Democrats presidential chances in 2000, is at it again. ...

Nader to Hillary: Hang In There!
AOL News Newsbloggers - Dulles,VA,USA
By Christopher Weber Politico had it first: On his web site today, Ralph Nader has a little advice for Hillary Clinton. Senator Clinton: Just read where ...

Interview: Ralph Nader Says We're Living Under Corporate Fascism
The Consumerist - New York,NY,USA
Ralph Nader, running for President in 2008, sat down with Red Tape Chronicles to talk about the current deplorable state of consumer affairs. ...

"Gaming the Vote": Why elections aren't fair
Seattle Times - United StatesBy Bruce Ramsey by William Poundstone Ralph Nader's entrance last month into the presidential race is a smirking reminder of the spoiler effect: Eight years ...

Nader deserves better
Press & Sun-Bulletin - Binghamton,NY,USA
Now that Ralph Nader has announced his candidacy, we again see the blatant hypocrisy in many Democrats. They charge him of being egotistical while implying ...

The Wichita Eagle - Wichita,KS,USA
I'm sick of hearing Democrats complaining about Ralph Nader "taking away votes" from them. The purpose of any politician's campaign is to take away votes ...

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader to visit Fort ...
Sun-Sentinel.com - Fort Lauderdale,FL,USA
By Anthony Man Political Writer March 28, 2008 Ralph Nader, the constant candidate blamed by many for costing Al Gore the presidency in 2000, ...

Run, Hillary, Run
By Stephen
Now Ralph Nader is encouraging Hillary to stay in the race. Heh. Jake Tapper wondered if The Onion was scripting this stuff. Don’t Listen to Senator Leahy — Ralph Nader for President in 2008. Senator Clinton: ...
politburo diktat 2.0 - http://acepilots.com/mt

Hippies for Hillary
By madeleinehawks
Ralph Nader, however, sort of fits into a different category in his approach, obviously as an independent, he would naturally be different anyway. I like his carbon tax, but other than that, he doesn’t put much focus into the ...
Green is becoming a kitsch phrase... - http://brownisabettergreen.wordpress.com

Who’s got her back?
By media@politico.com (Mike Allen)
A startling ally is calling on Senator Clinton to resist suggestions that she consider abandoning the presidential race - Ralph Nader, the independent presidential candidate who arguably cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000. ...
US Presidential race 2008 real-time ! - http://www.electionbid2008.com

Right to Life, HealthCare, and Happiness
By admin_huliq
Should it be Ralph Nader? No matter what, when I go to the poll I will be voting against somebody. This I already know because I don't like anybody who is running. And, as always, I will be voting for the person I think will do the ...
Society - http://www.huliq.com/society

US Election 2008: Nader will not defeat the Democratic Party. Only ...
By Stephen Dann
Ralph “One Man Band” Nader’s run for president will not be the reason for a Democratic candidate to lose in 2008, unless and until you’re caling Ralph Nader “Mr President”. In which case, fair point, Democrats were schooled by Nader ...
Stephendann.com - http://stephendann.com

Cynthia McKinney on racial disparities
Third Party Watch - USA
This entry was posted by Stephen Gordon on Thursday, March 27th, 2008 at 2:18 pm and is filed under News, Green Party, Cynthia McKinney. ...

Nader campaign: “No man is above or beyond the rule of law!”
Third Party Watch - USA
Declaring President George W. Bush the most impeachable president in American history, the Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader summoned the ...

Hillary Should Stay In. So Should Nader.
Conde Nast Portfolio - New York,NY,USA
What is wrong with Ralph Nader running for president, yet again? He could well cost the Democrats some votes as he did in 2000 although that seems ...

Why I Won’t Vote for Barack Obama
Dissident Voice - Santa Rosa,CA,USA
by Steven Salaita / March 27th, 2008 I would like to start by noting that although this will not be an essay about why one should vote for Ralph Nader, ...

Barr, Gravel Eye Libertarian Nod for President
New York Sun - New York,NY,USA
By JOSH GERSTEIN With Mayor Bloomberg out of the presidential race and Ralph Nader's appeal on the wane, the third-party presidential candidates of the ...

Nader will lecture at Stockton College
Asbury Park Press - Asbury Park,NJ,USA
GALLOWAY: Activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader will lecture April 5 at Richard Stockton College as part of the annual environmental forum. ...

Obama, Clinton — and Echoes of Nader?
New York Times - United States... may be remembered by many people who long admired them as having the same effect on Mr. Obama this November that Ralph Nader had on Al Gore in 2000. ...

Voice of the people
Huntington Herald Dispatch - Huntington,WV,USA
Maybe if we could get Ralph Nader to stop dreaming about the White House, we could get him back on the job of making our highways safe. How about it, Ralph?

NYT Column- 3/27/08- Obama, Clinton-- and Echoes of Nader?
By sphsapenglish(sphsapenglish)
Times Topics: Ralph Nader. Consider what it would take for Senator Clinton to win. For starters, she would have to pull ahead in the popular vote, to balance her second-place spot in number of states won and in pledged delegates. ...
sphsapenglish - http://sphsapenglish.livejournal.com/

Not an April Fool's joke: Ralph Nader to visit Fort Lauderdale on ...
Ralph Nader, the constant candidate blamed by many for costing Al Gore the presidency in 2000, makes an April Fool's Day appearance in Fort Lauderdale. Democrats hate the one-time icon of consumer activists. Playing on what made Nader ...
Broward Politics - http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/

Democrats can guarantee Ralph Nader won't play spoiler by ...
Ask your average Democrat their thoughts about Ralph Nader and most will respond with disgust that he is the man that handed George W. Bush the Presidency of the United States. And in one way of viewing it, they would be absolutely ...
BlogSheroes - the feminist bloggers... - http://www.blogsheroes.com

Nicholas Kristof Says The N Word
By hilzoy
Obama this November that Ralph Nader had on Al Gore in 2000. Do the Clintons really want to risk becoming the Naders of 2008?" That is exactly the right question for the Clintons to ask themselves. The superdelegates, on the other hand ...
Obsidian Wings - http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Obama Posts Tax Returns on the Internet, Calls on Clinton to Follow Suit Immediately

Senator Barack Obama today posted his tax returns from 2000-2006 on his campaign website, demonstrating his continued commitment to transparency in government and changing business as usual in Washington. The returns are complete, including all schedules, and are now available to anyone to view. The Obama campaign urged Senator Clinton to join Senator Obama in making her returns public.

Full disclosure on Senator Clinton’s part is especially important because she recently loaned $5 million to her campaign, shortly after revelations surfaced that her husband was to receive a $20 million payout from Yucaipa, a supermarket holding company that invests in tax shelters in the Cayman Islands.

Senator Clinton has agreed to release her returns, but will only offer a target date at least three days before the Pennsylvania primary, and has not specified the level of detail.

“Senator Clinton recently claimed that she’s ‘the most transparent figure in public life,’ yet she’s dragging her feet in releasing something as basic as her annual tax returns,” said Obama Communications Director Robert Gibbs. “Senator Clinton can’t claim to be vetted until she allows the public the opportunity to see her finances—particularly with respect to any investment in tax shelters.”

The Clinton campaign’s vague commitment to release the returns and the Clintons’ known involvement with such investments as Yucaipa raise a number of questions.

1. Yucaipa Has A Financial Stake In Three Investment Entities Registered In The Cayman Islands. “Securities and Exchange Commission documents and financial- disclosure forms filed by Hillary Clinton show that Bill Clinton, 61, has a financial stake in three investment entities registered in the Cayman Islands by Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. LLC. In 2004, Hillary Clinton, a New York senator, said she wanted to close the ``loopholes’’ for ``people who create a mailbox, or a drop, or send one person to sit on the beach in some island paradise and claim that it is their offshore headquarters.’’ [Bloomberg, 12/17/07]

Question: If elected President, would Sen. Clinton propose or support legislation to block or curb any of Yucaipa’s current business or tax strategies?

2. Clinton Spokesman Claimed That Yucaipa Is Registered In Cayman So That Bill Clinton Can Pay US Taxes. “Jay Carson, a Clinton spokesman, said that while the former president hasn’t ``severed ties’’ with Yucaipa, he ``is taking steps to ensure’’ that ``there will be an appropriate transition for those relationships’’ if his wife receives the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Carson, in an e-mail, said the funds are designed for foreign investors. ``All three of these entities (which are related) are organized in the Cayman Islands so that each investor or partner pays the taxes they would owe in their home country,’’ he said. ``For U.S. citizens like Bill Clinton, that means he pays U.S. taxes on his income from this fund, which he does.’’ [Bloomberg, 12/17/07]

Question: Did Bill Clinton participate in the decision for Yucaipa to register any of these funds in the Cayman Islands? If so, did he argue for or against?

3. Clinton Spokesperson Will Not Answer Questions On Whether Bill Clinton Receives Equity Instead Of Cash, Allowing Him To Pay The Lower 15 % Capital Gains Tax Rate Instead Of Higher Income Tax Rate. “ Carson said Bill Clinton’s payments from Yucaipa aren’t deferred and the former president pays tax on that income in the year in which it is earned. Steven Howard, a partner at Thacher Proffitt & Wood LLP in New York who advises investment firms, said private-equity firms such as Yucaipa often compensate advisers with a stake in the company rather than salary. ``In Clinton’s case, he may be allocated equity instead of significant cash for services rendered,’’ Howard said. Carson didn’t respond to questions about whether Bill Clinton receives this form of compensation. Howard said equity allocations are taxed at the 15 percent capital-gains rate instead of as ordinary income, which is taxed at rates as high as 35 percent. He said the same benefit applies to so-called carried interest, a profit-sharing arrangement used by fund managers that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have criticized and vow to curb.” [Bloomberg, 12/17/07]

Question: Is Bill Clinton allocated equity? What is the effective tax rate that Bill Clinton pays on all income or gains from Yucaipa?

4. Clintons Won’t Explain Why Yucaipa Was Listed On Disclosure Forms As Based In Los Angeles Rather Than Cayman; Won’t Disclose When Sen. Clinton Became Aware Of Husband’s Offshore Deals. “Bloomberg’s questions to the campaign involved the nature and amounts of his compensation from Yucaipa, why the holdings were listed as Los Angeles-based rather than Cayman Islands entities, and when Hillary Clinton became aware that the funds were offshore. Carson didn’t address those questions. Yucaipa spokesman Frank Quintero referred all questions about the former president’s role to the Clintons’ spokespeople.” [Bloomberg, 12/17/07]

Question: Why do the Clintons consider Yucaipa to be a Los Angeles-based company when it is actually based in the Cayman Islands?

Question: Why were the Clintons unable to answer the media’s questions in mid-December 2007?

Ironically, Senator Clinton herself made the release of her opponent’s tax returns a central issue when she ran for the Senate in 2000. Numerous Democratic presidential candidates in recent years have released their tax returns, including Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards, General Clark, Senator Lieberman, and Congressman Kucinich.

With the next primary only weeks away and sure to see significant spending from the Clinton campaign, now is the time for Senator Clinton to keep faith with the voters, release her tax returns, and allow these questions to be answered in full. In the meantime, you can view Senator Obama’s 2000-2006 tax returns HERE.

Clinton has claimed that releasing her tax returns is unnecessary because she has filed the personal financial disclosure forms that all Senators are required by to submit. But there are key facts that the personal financial disclosure form alone does not disclose, including:

The amount the Clintons make as a couple;
Senator and President Clinton’s effective tax rate;
What loopholes, if any, they used to reduce it;
The actual amount of President Clinton’s income and not just the range;
What stock have they sold, and how much did they made from it;
The amount they made from their stock dividends;
The deductions they took for losses related to stock sales;
The household employment taxes they paid for employees;
The personal exemptions they took; and
The charitable contributions they have made.

Obama Statement on Report of the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare

Senator Obama issued the following statement today in response to the Report of the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare.

"Today’s report should give Americans confidence that we can keep Social Security strong for future generations if we come together and address its real but manageable long-term cash flow issue. But the report also shows the cost of Washington’s failure to overcome the special interests and pass health care reform that expands coverage and lower costs, which would keep Medicare strong and affordable for America’s seniors. As president, I will reduce costs in the Medicare program by enacting reforms to lower the price of prescription drugs, ending the subsidies for private insurers in the Medicare Advantage program and focusing resources on prevention and effective chronic disease management. I’ll also bring Democrats and Republicans together to provide every single American with affordable, available health care that reduces health care costs by $2,500 per family. By investing in proven measures to improve the health of all Americans and reduce health care cost across the economy, we can ensure that the Medicare program remains strong for future generations."

3/24/08 Statement from Hillary Clinton

Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, there have now been 4,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. On this solemn day, we remember the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We honor the tens of thousands more who have suffered wounds both visible and invisible, wounds that scar bodies and minds, and hearts as well. We honor the sacrifices of their families, a price paid in empty places at the dinner table, in the struggle to raise children alone, in the wrenching reversal of parents burying children.

In the last five years, our soldiers have done everything we asked of them and more. They were asked to remove Saddam Hussein from power and bring him to justice and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqi people the opportunity for free and fair elections and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqi government the space and time for political reconciliation, and they did. So for every American soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice for this mission, we should imagine carved in stone: "They gave their life for the greatest gift one can give to a fellow human being, the gift of freedom."

I recall the great honor of meeting many of our brave men and women who have served our country. In meeting them, I am always struck by how, no matter how great their suffering, no matter how grave their own injuries, they always say the same thing to me: "Promise that you’ll take care of my buddies. They’re still over there. Promise you’ll keep them safe."

I have looked those men and women in the eye. I have made that promise. And I intend to honor it by bringing a responsible end to this war, and bringing our troops home safely.

Hillary Clinton: Leadership on The Economy


Hillary called for a foreclosure timeout on March 15, 2007. In a speech to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Hillary calls for a "foreclosure timeout, during which borrowers will have the opportunity to put their financial houses in order and to work out a payment plan." [Speech, 3/15/07]

Bush administration follows Hillary's lead 11 months and 2.4 million foreclosures later. [USA Today, 2/12/08]

Hillary called for a five year freeze on interest rates on December 5, 2007. Hillary calls on the Administration to negotiate a freeze in interest rates of at least 5 years for all subprime mortgages to give the housing market time to stabilize and families an opportunity to rebuild equity in their homes. [CNN, 12/5/07]

Bush administration follows the next day with weaker proposal. [AP, 12/6/07
Sen. Obama still opposes, placing him to the right of Bush administration. [Obama Release, 2/20/08]

Starting in her first days as Senator, Hillary urged fiscal responsibility to avoid a return to deficits. "You know, I respect the comment about the tax burden on our children, but we also are imposing other burdens on our children if we return to deficits, or if we do not adequately prepare for the retirement of the baby boom generation so that entitlement programs, in whatever way we can provide, will be available so that the burden doesn't shift to our children." [Hillary Remarks, Senate Budget Committee Hearing with Greenspan, 1/25/01]

Starting in her first days as a Senator, Hillary spoke out against was the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. "What do we do with our budget? I believe in affordable tax cuts. I would like to see some tax cuts. But I also believe that we have to continue to pay down our debt, we have to invest in education, health care, and the environment….so I am going to be looking for a balanced approach…(B)ased on the numbers that I've seen, if he has set forward as I believe he has a $1.6 trillion tax cut, I'm very worried about that. " [Clinton Senate Office press release, 2/5/01]

Hillary was a leader in the effort to rebuild the nation's aging infrastructure. "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today applauded Senate passage of the National Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2007, bipartisan legislation she introduced with Senators Carper, Voinovich and Coleman, to address the deteriorating condition of our nation's roads, bridges, drinking water systems, dams and other public works. The bill will establish a National Commission on Infrastructure of the United States, charged with aiding in the nation's economic growth and ensuring the nation's infrastructure meets current and future demands…" [Press release, 8/2/07]

Hillary fought to extending unemployment benefits for out of work Americans. Clinton co-sponsored an amendment to the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2002 to extend the temporary extended unemployment compensation program for five months. In a floor statement, Hillary said "The House Leadership and the President did not support extending benefits then, but now they do now." [S. 23, 1/07/03; Floor statement, 1/7/03]

Just Embellished Words: Senator Obama’s Record of Exaggerations & Misstatements

Once again, the Obama campaign is getting caught saying one thing while doing another. They are personally attacking Hillary even though Sen. Obama has been found mispeaking and embellishing facts about himself more than ten times in recent months. Senator Obama’s campaign is based on words –not a record of deeds – and if those words aren’t backed up by facts, there’s not much else left.

"Senator Obama has called himself a constitutional professor, claimed credit for passing legislation that never left committee, and apparently inflated his role as a community organizer among other issues. When it comes to his record, just words won't do. Senator Obama will have to use facts as well," Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said.

Sen. Obama consistently and falsely claims that he was a law professor. The Sun-Times reported that, "Several direct-mail pieces issued for Obama's primary [Senate] campaign said he was a law professor at the University of Chicago. He is not. He is a senior lecturer (now on leave) at the school. In academia, there is a vast difference between the two titles. Details matter." In academia, there's a significant difference: professors have tenure while lecturers do not. [Hotline Blog, 4/9/07; Chicago Sun-Times, 8/8/04]

Obama claimed credit for nuclear leak legislation that never passed. "Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was 'the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed.' 'I just did that last year,' he said, to murmurs of approval. A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks. Those revisions propelled the bill through a crucial committee. But, contrary to Mr. Obama’s comments in Iowa, it ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate." [New York Times, 2/2/08]

Obama misspoke about his being conceived because of Selma. "Mr. Obama relayed a story of how his Kenyan father and his Kansan mother fell in love because of the tumult of Selma, but he was born in 1961, four years before the confrontation at Selma took place. When asked later, Mr. Obama clarified himself, saying: 'I meant the whole civil rights movement.'" [New York Times, 3/5/07]

LA Times: Fellow organizers say Sen. Obama took too much credit for his community organizing efforts. "As the 24-year-old mentor to public housing residents, Obama says he initiated and led efforts that thrust Altgeld's asbestos problem into the headlines, pushing city officials to call hearings and a reluctant housing authority to start a cleanup. But others tell the story much differently. They say Obama did not play the singular role in the asbestos episode that he portrays in the best-selling memoir 'Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.' Credit for pushing officials to deal with the cancer-causing substance, according to interviews and news accounts from that period, also goes to a well-known preexisting group at Altgeld Gardens and to a local newspaper called the Chicago Reporter. Obama does not mention either one in his book." [Los Angeles Times, 2/19/07]

Chicago Tribune: Obama's assertion that nobody had indications Rezko was engaging in wrongdoing 'strains credulity.' "…Obama has been too self-exculpatory. His assertion in network TV interviews last week that nobody had indications Rezko was engaging in wrongdoing strains credulity: Tribune stories linked Rezko to questionable fundraising for Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2004 -- more than a year before the adjacent home and property purchases by the Obamas and the Rezkos." [Chicago Tribune editorial, 1/27/08]

Obama was forced to revise his assertion that lobbyists 'won't work in my White House.' "White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was forced to revise a critical stump line of his on Saturday -- a flat declaration that lobbyists 'won't work in my White House' after it turned out his own written plan says they could, with some restrictions… After being challenged on the accuracy of what he has been saying -- in contrast to his written pledge -- at a news conference Saturday in Waterloo, Obama immediately softened what had been his hard line in his next stump speech." [Chicago Sun-Times, 12/16/07]

FactCheck.org: 'Selective, embellished and out-of-context quotes from newspapers pump up Obama's health plan.' "Obama's ad touting his health care plan quotes phrases from newspaper articles and an editorial, but makes them sound more laudatory and authoritative than they actually are. It attributes to The Washington Post a line saying Obama's plan would save families about $2,500. But the Post was citing the estimate of the Obama campaign and didn't analyze the purported savings independently. It claims that "experts" say Obama's plan is "the best." "Experts" turn out to be editorial writers at the Iowa City Press-Citizen – who, for all their talents, aren't actual experts in the field. It quotes yet another newspaper saying Obama's plan "guarantees coverage for all Americans," neglecting to mention that, as the article makes clear, it's only Clinton's and Edwards' plans that would require coverage for everyone, while Obama's would allow individuals to buy in if they wanted to.” [FactCheck.org, 1/3/08]

Sen. Obama said 'I passed a law that put Illinois on a path to universal coverage,' but Obama health care legislation merely set up a task force. "As a state senator, I brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass legislation insuring 20,000 more children. And 65,000 more adults received health care…And I passed a law that put Illinois on a path to universal coverage." The State Journal-Register reported in 2004 that "The [Illinois State] Senate squeaked out a controversial bill along party lines Wednesday to create a task force to study health-care reform in Illinois. […] In its original form, the bill required the state to offer universal health care by 2007. That put a 'cloud' over the legislation, said Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon. Under the latest version, the 29-member task force would hold at least five public hearings next year." [Obama Health Care speech, 5/29/07; State Journal-Register, 5/20/04]

ABC News: 'Obama…seemed to exaggerate the legislative progress he made' on ethics reform. "ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: During Monday's Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., seemed to exaggerate the legislative progress he has made on disclosure of "bundlers," those individuals who aggregate their influence with the candidate they support by collecting $2,300 checks from a wide network of wealthy friends and associates. When former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel alleged that Obama had 134 bundlers, Obama responded by telling Gravel that the reason he knows how many bundlers he has raising money for him is "because I helped push through a law this past session to disclose that." Earlier this year, Obama sponsored an amendment [sic] in the Senate requiring lobbyists to disclose the candidates for whom they bundle. Obama's amendment would not, however, require candidates to release the names of their bundlers. What's more, although Obama's amendment was agreed to in the Senate by unanimous consent, the measure never became law as Obama seemed to suggest. Gravel and the rest of the public know how many bundlers Obama has not because of a 'law' that the Illinois Democrat has 'pushed through' but because Obama voluntarily discloses that information." [ABC News, a=href"http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2007/07/obama-exaggerat.html">7/23/07]

Obama drastically overstated Kansas tornado deaths during campaign appearance. "When Sen. Barack Obama exaggerated the death toll of the tornado in Greensburg, Kan, during his visit to Richmond yesterday, The Associated Press headline rapidly evolved from 'Obama visits former Confederate capital for fundraiser’ to ‘Obama rips Bush on Iraq war at Richmond fundraiser' to 'Weary Obama criticizes Bush on Iraq, drastically overstates Kansas tornado death toll' to 'Obama drastically overstates Kansas tornado deaths during campaign appearance.' Drudge made it a banner, ensuring no reporter would miss it." [politico.com, 5/9/07]

Hillary Clinton Reacts to Sen. McCain’s Support for Social Security Privatization & His Housing Speech

The following are excerpts from a press availability that Hillary Clinton held at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg earlier this afternoon:

“…Social Security is a big issue in this campaign. There are differences between myself and Senator Obama and there are very big differences between myself and John McCain. And I have to admit to being somewhat surprised when I saw that Senator McCain had said that he would try to continue to try to privatize Social Security along the lines of what President Bush tried and failed in doing in 2005. That is a very significant difference between the two of us.”…

“…Pennsylvania as you know has a higher percentage of older people than most states so it is a particular concern to a lot of Pennsylvanians who are on Social Security, like a couple we heard from earlier today who keep seeing their expenses increase and realize that they are in a very difficult position trying to afford all of the necessities of life and being on a fixed income like they are. That’s why it’s so important that we are doing everything we can to meet the long term challenges of Social Security. The Social Security trustees just issued a report, actually while I was speaking, and there has been some improvement in the outlook for Social Security according to some, to the Social Security trustees. So I think that it reinforces what I have said for a long time, which is we have some long term challenges. It is not a crisis. We can fix what’s needing to be changed in Social Security. Our real challenge is Medicare which is much more in crisis and deserves closer attention.”…

The following is Clinton’s response to Sen. McCain’s comments on the housing crisis.
“It sounds remarkably like Herbert Hoover and I don’t think that’s a good economic policy. We have a framework of regulation, it needs to be updated and modernized. The government has a number of tools at its disposal that are well-suited for just this situation. I think that inaction has contributed to the problems we face today and I believe further inaction would exacerbate those problems. I’ve laid out what I would do. I don’t think it’s an adequate response to say the government shouldn’t be helping either banks or people because I think that would be a downward spiral that would cause tremendous economic pain and loss in our country and I don’t see why we should wait by for that to happen.”

3/25/08 HUBdate: Retirement Security

Previewing Today: Today, Hillary hosts a “Solutions for the American Economy” town hall in Greensburg, PA addressing how families can save and invest for a secure retirement.
Recapping Yesterday: Hillary unveiled her comprehensive plan to halt the housing crisis. “The solution I’ve proposed is a sensible way for everyone – lenders, investors, mortgage companies and borrowers – to share responsibility, keep families in their homes, and stabilize our communities and our economy.” Read More.
Uniontown, PA: Hillary addressed an “enthusiastic crowd” of over 4,000 “with several hundred people who couldn't fit…gathered in another room,” in Fayette County, PA. Joined by Gov. Ed Rendell and Rep. John Murtha, Hillary said, “I pledge I will work my heart out for you… [c]ome join this team and be a part of making history together." Read More.
On The Trail: At a women’s organizing event in Blue Bell, PA, “[n]early a thousand people filled the room, and more were directed to an overflow space,” as Hillary declared equal pay as “not a 'woman's issue’…[t]his is an issue of equality and justice. This is a family issue." Read More.
The Hillary I Know: PA Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll blogs about why Hillary is her choice to be the next president: “The real Women’s History month may not be in March, but in November.” Read More.
On Tap: On Wednesday, Hillary will be joined by her daughter Chelsea in hosting a “March to Victory” low-dollar rally in Washington, DC. RSVP here.
In Case You Missed It: Sen. Obama’s “three-year record in the Senate, …offers little evidence that he can do what he's promising.” Read More.
Fact Check: Sen. Obama Accepted Over $1 Million From Subprime Lending Industry. Read More.

NEW VIDEO: Rep. John Murtha On The Trail With Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania

Tells Supporters Pennsylvania is Hillary Country!

The Clinton campaign today released a new video of Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha on the trail with Hillary Clinton in the Keystone State. In the video, Murtha expresses his belief that Hillary is the only candidate who can responsibly end the war in Iraq and restore fiscal responsibility to our government.

Watch the new video here

Following is the script for the video:

Let me tell you something. I’ve served with seven Presidents. I am convinced that we’re in probably one of the worst situations that I’ve seen in the 35 years I’ve been in Congress. We need a person with experience, a person that understands the policy.

When the Clinton administration left, there was a $250 billion surplus. Now, there’s almost a $3 trillion deficit.

The military has been so depleted by this war. We’re spending $343 million dollars a day to build roads in Iraq and we’re not spending money on the projects that are so important.
And who can solve that problem – Hillary!

Finally, a person that listens to the people, listens and works with people, and can get the country together and reunite us, restore our credibility, restore our military, and put us back in a fiscal policy worth the United States history.

The next President of the United States – Hillary Clinton!

This is Hillary country. She’s had a tremendous reception here in Fayette County – she’s going to get that kind of reception all over Pennsylvania. There is no individual that can do this more effectively than Hillary Clinton and I support her wholeheartedly.

Statement from Campaign Manager Maggie Williams on New Vote in Michigan

In the wake of today's court ruling regarding Michigan’s January 15th primary, we urge Senator Obama to join our call for a party-run primary and demonstrate his commitment to counting Michigan's votes.

Senator Clinton has consistently urged that the 600,000 votes cast by the people of Michigan be counted and if that is not possible, that a new election be held.

Michigan voters must not be disenfranchised and the Obama campaign must not continue to block Michigan’s efforts to hold a new vote. Rather it should move quickly to announce its support for a party run primary.

Michigan will be a key battleground state in November. Disenfranchising Michigan voters today will, in the heat of a general election, provide Senator McCain with a powerful argument to use against the Democratic nominee. We cannot allow this to happen.

The people of Michigan must be counted and their voices finally heard. What the people of Michigan need now is just action, not just words.

Hillary Clinton Responds to John McCain on Iraq

“While there is much to praise in Senator McCain’s speech, he and I continue to have a fundamental disagreement on Iraq. Like President Bush, Senator McCain continues to oppose a swift and responsible withdrawal from Iraq. Like President Bush, Senator McCain discounts the warnings of our senior military leadership of the consequences of the Iraq war on the readiness of our armed forces, and on the need to focus on the forgotten front line in Afghanistan. Like President Bush, Senator McCain wants to keep us tied to another country's civil war, and said “it would be fine with me” if U.S. troops were in Iraq for 50 or even 100 years. That in a nutshell is the Bush/McCain Iraq policy.”

HUBdate: "March to Victory"

Previewing Today: Hillary and her daughter Chelsea co-host a “March to Victory” rally in Washington, DC. RSVP here.
Strong on the Economy: Yesterday, Hillary unveiled her retirement security plan to help Pennsylvania families save for the future. Read more about Hillary's plan and her long record of leadership on the economy.
By the Numbers: A new Rasmussen poll shows more Democrats supporting Hillary in the general election (71-64)…and viewing Hillary more favorably than Senator Obama (74-67) See results here.
If You Watch One Thing Today: Hillary goes on the air in Pennsylvania with “Level.” Watch here.
The Hillary I Know: Philadelphia Mayor Nutter lays out his case for Hillary. “I believe that Senator Clinton shares my commitment to healing lives and broken families while, at the same time, healing a nation…It's a new day in Philadelphia and Hillary Clinton is bringing new leadership…that I believe will make life better - for all of us.” Read more.
Endorsement Watch: Yesterday, the Liberty City Democratic Club, a leading LGBT political group in PA, overwhelmingly endorsed Hillary. “[Hillary’s] record of accomplishment is proof positive that she'll be a fighter for the LGBT community …We need her experience working for us." Read more.
In the States: This week, the campaign has opened new offices in Raleigh, North Carolina and in Bristol, Easton, and Norristown, Pennsylvania, as well as in Indianapolis and New Albany, Indiana.
On Tap: Tomorrow, Hillary delivers an economic policy address in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In Case You Missed It: Senator Obama’s campaign continues engaging in negative, slanderous attacks on Senator Clinton. Read more.
Just words? Senator Obama “has been found misspeaking and embellishing facts about himself more than ten times in recent months.” Read more.

Clinton Talks about Protecting American Homeowners—but Contributions Show Close Ties to the Industry’s Interests

Senator Clinton gave a speech today (3/24/08) outlining her plans to address the mortgage crisis— but her history of accepting campaign contributions from PACs and lobbyists representing that same industry shows that she’s enmeshed in the very system that needs to change. Barack Obama has an unparalleled record of standing up to the special interests that stand in the way of meaningful relief for working people.

Senator Obama does not accept PAC or federal lobbyist money, and has pledged to sign the most sweeping ethics reform in history, finally getting tough on the special interests.

“If we’re really going to crack down on the practices that caused the credit and housing crises, we’re going to need a leader who doesn’t owe those industries any favors,” said Obama for America campaign manager David Plouffe. “Barack Obama knows that with so many hardworking Americans struggling to keep their homes and stay out of debt, we need a President who will put our interests before the special interests.”

Senator Clinton has taken more special interest money than any candidate in the race of either party, including:

$56,250 to date from finance industry PACs
Nearly $750,000 total to date from PACs
$72,747.91 to date from insurance industry lobbyists
$919,000 total to date from lobbyists

And Clinton has taken nearly $22,000 this cycle form lobbyists for the sub-prime lending industry [Center for Responsive Politics, accessed: 8/6/07]:

Clinton took $2,300 from Countrywide Financial lobbyist Jennifer Bendall
Clinton took $3,600 from Countrywide Financial lobbyist Stephanie Markiewicz
Clinton took $1,250 from Countrywide Financial lobbyist Maria Cardona
Clinton took $4,600 from Countrywide Financial lobbyist Charles Campion
Clinton took $4,600 from Washington Mutual lobbyist James Free
Clinton took $1,000 from Washington Mutual lobbyist Robert Hickmott.
Clinton took $4,600 from Washington Mutual lobbyist Cantwell F. Muckenfuss

In addition, her campaign activities show close ties to special interests:

12 Of Clinton’s $100,000+ Bundlers Are Federal Lobbyists. 12 of the “HillRaisers” listed on Clinton’s web site were federally registered lobbyists in 2007 or 2008. “HillRaisers” are defined as anyone who raises more than $100,000 for Clinton’s campaign. [http://www.hillaryclinton.com/Q1/HillRaisers/; Senate Office of Public Records]

Clinton Held an “Issues Breakout” Fundraiser With Lobbyists. Clinton's campaign is hosting lobbyist donors for an “issues breakout session” on the morning of June 6. For $500, attendees can choose briefings on education, energy and the environment, health care, and telecommunications and technology, among others, according to a copy of the invite. An extra $500 allows donors to stick around for breakfast with the candidate. “It's somewhat unusual, but it's appreciated,” one lobbyist, a Clinton supporter, said of the fundraiser. Roll Call described the event as being for “Democratic lobbyists eager to hear the particulars of Hillary Rodham Clinton's policy positions.” [Roll Call, 5/9/07; Hillary Clinton for President Event Invitation]

Clinton Planned To Hold A “Rural Americans For Hillary” Lunch At Monsanto Lobbying Firm. Clinton planned to hold a “Rural Americans for Hillary” lunch and campaign briefing at the end of this month at lobbying firm Troutman Sanders Public Affairs which lobbies for the “controversial multinational agri-biotech Monsanto. You read that right: Monsanto, about which there are serious questions about its culpability regarding 56 Superfund Sites, wanton and ‘outrageous’ pollution, and the decidedly unkosher (and quite metaphoric) genetically-bred ‘Superpig.’ A company that the website ‘Ethical Investing’ labels ‘the world's most unethical and harmful investment.’” [ABC, 10/18/07]

Clinton Went Directly From The AFL-CIO Labor Forum To A Lobbyists’ Fundraiser.” “ Clinton, under fire from her rivals for accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists, will head directly from a labor forum in Chicago to a fundraiser at a lobbyist's home Tuesday evening. Clinton, D-N.Y., plans to attend a dessert reception in Wilmette, Ill. -- minimum contribution: $1,000 per person -- at the home of Kevin Conlon, the founder and president of Conlon Public Strategies. Conlon is registered with the federal government to lobby for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to receive federal subsidies. … Clinton has raised more than $413,000 directly from registered lobbyists and their immediate family members -- by far the most of any presidential candidate, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. She also has 10 federal lobbyists serving as ‘Hillraisers’ -- supporters who are committed to raising at least $100,000 apiece for her campaign. [ABC, 8/7/07]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Obama: We Must End the Iraq War to Address Our National Security Priorities

On the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, Senator Barack Obama offered a clear contrast between his foreign policy vision and that of John McCain, emphasizing the need to end the war in order to confront the emerging national security challenges of the 21st Century. Obama spoke at Fayetteville Technical Community College, a short distance from Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. Fort Bragg is home to the 82d Airborne Division and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, members of which have seen multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his remarks, Senator Obama drew stark distinctions between the leadership and judgment he offers and the kind of leadership that led us into Iraq—and fails to comprehend the consequences of our involvement there:

“Just yesterday, we heard Senator McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and al Qaeda,” Senator Obama said. “Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.”
Obama was introduced and endorsed at the event by Paul “Bud” Bucha, a former Army captain awarded the Medal of Honor in 1970 for heroism in Vietnam.

Senator Obama outlined the threats that have festered while the U.S. has remained mired in Iraq, a war he opposed from the start. Obama will immediately begin to bring and end to the war and refocus our military and diplomatic efforts on 21st-Century security challenges. As President, Obama will:

End the war in Iraq, removing our troops at a pace of 1 to 2 combat brigades per month;
Finally finish the fight against the Taliban, root out al Qaeda and invest in the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, while making aid to the Pakistani government conditional;
Act aggressively to stop nuclear proliferation and to secure all loose nuclear materials around the world;
Double our foreign assistance to cut extreme poverty in half;
Invest in a clean energy future to wean the U.S. off of foreign oil and to lead the world against the threat of global climate change;
Rebuild our military capability by increasing the number of soldiers, marines, and special forces troops, and insist on adequate training and time off between deployments;
Renew American diplomacy by talking to our adversaries as well as our friends; increasing the size of the Foreign Service and the Peace Corps; and creating an America’s Voice Corps.

The full fact sheet is available HERE
Senator Obama’s remarks follow as prepared for delivery.
The World Beyond Iraq Senator Barack Obama March 19, 2008
As prepared for delivery

Just before America’s entry into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress: “It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war,” he said. “...But the right is more precious than peace.” Wilson’s words captured two awesome responsibilities that test any Commander-in-Chief – to never hesitate to defend America, but to never go to war unless you must. War is sometimes necessary, but it has grave consequences, and the judgment to go to war can never be undone.

Five years ago today, President George W. Bush addressed the nation. Bombs had started to rain down on Baghdad. War was necessary, the President said, because the United States could not, “live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.” Recalling the pain of 9/11, he said the price of inaction in Iraq was to meet the threat with “armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.”

At the time the President uttered those words, there was no hard evidence that Iraq had those stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. There was not any evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks of September 11, or that Iraq had operational ties to the al Qaeda terrorists who carried them out. By launching a war based on faulty premises and bad intelligence, President Bush failed Wilson’s test. So did Congress when it voted to give him the authority to wage war.

Five years have gone by since that fateful decision. This war has now lasted longer than World War I, World War II, or the Civil War. Nearly four thousand Americans have given their lives. Thousands more have been wounded. Even under the best case scenarios, this war will cost American taxpayers well over a trillion dollars. And where are we for all of this sacrifice? We are less safe and less able to shape events abroad. We are divided at home, and our alliances around the world have been strained. The threats of a new century have roiled the waters of peace and stability, and yet America remains anchored in Iraq.

History will catalog the reasons why we waged a war that didn’t need to be fought, but two stand out. In 2002, when the fateful decisions about Iraq were made, there was a President for whom ideology overrode pragmatism, and there were too many politicians in Washington who spent too little time reading the intelligence reports, and too much time reading public opinion. The lesson of Iraq is that when we are making decisions about matters as grave as war, we need a policy rooted in reason and facts, not ideology and politics.

Now we are debating who should be our next Commander in Chief. And I am running for President because it’s time to turn the page on a failed ideology and a fundamentally flawed political strategy, so that we can make pragmatic judgments to keep our country safe. That’s what I did when I stood up and opposed this war from the start, and said that we needed to finish the fight against al Qaeda. And that’s what I’ll do as President of the United States.

Senator Clinton says that she and Senator McCain have passed a “Commander in Chief test” – not because of the judgments they’ve made, but because of the years they’ve spent in Washington. She made a similar argument when she said her vote for war was based on her experience at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But here is the stark reality: there is a security gap in this country – a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions. A gap between Washington experience, and the wisdom of Washington’s judgments. A gap between the rhetoric of those who tout their support for our troops, and the overburdened state of our military.

It is time to have a debate with John McCain about the future of our national security. And the way to win that debate is not to compete with John McCain over who has more experience in Washington, because that’s a contest that he’ll win. The way to win a debate with John McCain is not to talk, and act, and vote like him on national security, because then we all lose. The way to win that debate and to keep America safe is to offer a clear contrast, and that’s what I will do when I am the nominee of the Democratic Party – because since before this war in Iraq began, I have made different judgments, I have a different vision, and I will offer a clean break from the failed policies and politics of the past.

Nowhere is that break more badly needed than in Iraq.

In the year since President Bush announced the surge – the bloodiest year of the war for America – the level of violence in Iraq has been reduced. Our troops – including so many from Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base – have done a brilliant job under difficult circumstances. Yet while we have a General who has used improved tactics to reduce violence, we still have the wrong strategy. As General Petraeus has himself acknowledged, the Iraqis are not achieving the political progress needed to end their civil war. Beyond Iraq, our military is badly overstretched, and we have neither the strategy nor resources to deal with nearly every other national security challenge we face.

This is why the judgment that matters most on Iraq – and on any decision to deploy military force – is the judgment made first. If you believe we are fighting the right war, then the problems we face are purely tactical in nature. That is what Senator McCain wants to discuss – tactics. What he and the Administration have failed to present is an overarching strategy: how the war in Iraq enhances our long-term security, or will in the future. That’s why this Administration cannot answer the simple question posed by Senator John Warner in hearings last year: Are we safer because of this war? And that is why Senator McCain can argue – as he did last year – that we couldn’t leave Iraq because violence was up, and then argue this year that we can’t leave Iraq because violence is down.

When you have no overarching strategy, there is no clear definition of success. Success comes to be defined as the ability to maintain a flawed policy indefinitely. Here is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.

So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on Day One: I will end this war. Not because politics compels it. Not because our troops cannot bear the burden– as heavy as it is. But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.

In order to end this war responsibly, I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them 16 months. After this redeployment, we will leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy. What I propose is not – and never has been – a precipitous drawdown. It is instead a detailed and prudent plan that will end a war nearly seven years after it started.

My plan to end this war will finally put pressure on Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future. Because we’ve learned that when we tell Iraq’s leaders that we’ll stay as long as it takes, they take as long as they want. We need to send a different message. We will help Iraq reach a meaningful accord on national reconciliation. We will engage with every country in the region – and the UN – to support the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq. And we will launch a major humanitarian initiative to support Iraq’s refugees and people. But Iraqis must take responsibility for their country. It is precisely this kind of approach – an approach that puts the onus on the Iraqis, and that relies on more than just military power – that is needed to stabilize Iraq.

Let me be clear: ending this war is not going to be easy. There will be dangers involved. We will have to make tactical adjustments, listening to our commanders on the ground, to ensure that our interests in a stable Iraq are met, and to make sure that our troops are secure. Senator Clinton has tried to use my position to score political points, suggesting that I am somehow less committed to ending the war. She makes this argument despite the fact that she has taken the same position in the past. So ask yourself: who do you trust to end a war – someone who opposed the war from the beginning, or someone who started opposing it when they started preparing a run for President?

Now we know what we’ll hear from those like John McCain who support open-ended war. They will argue that leaving Iraq is surrender. That we are emboldening the enemy. These are the mistaken and misleading arguments we hear from those who have failed to demonstrate how the war in Iraq has made us safer. Just yesterday, we heard Senator McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and al Qaeda. Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.

The war in Iraq has emboldened Iran, which poses the greatest challenge to American interests in the Middle East in a generation, continuing its nuclear program and threatening our ally, Israel. Instead of the new Middle East we were promised, Hamas runs Gaza, Hizbollah flags fly from the rooftops in Sadr City, and Iran is handing out money left and right in southern Lebanon.

The war in Iraq has emboldened North Korea, which built new nuclear weapons and even tested one before the Administration finally went against its own rhetoric, and pursued diplomacy.
The war in Iraq has emboldened the Taliban, which has rebuilt its strength since we took our eye off of Afghanistan.

Above all, the war in Iraq has emboldened al Qaeda, whose recruitment has jumped and whose leadership enjoys a safe-haven in Pakistan – a thousand miles from Iraq.

The central front in the war against terror is not Iraq, and it never was. What more could America’s enemies ask for than an endless war where they recruit new followers and try out new tactics on a battlefield so far from their base of operations? That is why my presidency will shift our focus. Rather than fight a war that does not need to be fought, we need to start fighting the battles that need to be won on the central front of the war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This is the area where the 9/11 attacks were planned. This is where Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants still hide. This is where extremism poses its greatest threat. Yet in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have pursued flawed strategies that are too distant from the needs of the people, and too timid in pursuit of our common enemies.

It may not dominate the evening news, but in Afghanistan, last year was the most deadly since 2001. Suicide attacks are up. Casualties are up. Corruption and drug trafficking are rampant. Neither the government nor the legal economy can meet the needs of the Afghan people.
It is not too late to prevail in Afghanistan. But we cannot prevail until we reduce our commitment in Iraq, which will allow us to do what I called for last August – providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our efforts in Afghanistan. This increased commitment in turn can be used to leverage greater assistance – with fewer restrictions – from our NATO allies. It will also allow us to invest more in training Afghan security forces, including more joint NATO operations with the Afghan Army, and a national police training plan that is effectively coordinated and resourced.

A stepped up military commitment must be backed by a long-term investment in the Afghan people. We will start with an additional $1 billion in non military assistance each year – aid that is focused on reaching ordinary Afghans. We need to improve daily life by supporting education, basic infrastructure and human services. We have to counter the opium trade by supporting alternative livelihoods for Afghan farmers. And we must call on more support from friends and allies, and better coordination under a strong international coordinator.

To succeed in Afghanistan, we also need to fundamentally rethink our Pakistan policy. For years, we have supported stability over democracy in Pakistan, and gotten neither. The core leadership of al Qaeda has a safe-haven in Pakistan. The Taliban are able to strike inside Afghanistan and then return to the mountains of the Pakistani border. Throughout Pakistan, domestic unrest has been rising. The full democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people have been too long denied. A child growing up in Pakistan, more often than not, is taught to see America as a source of hate – not hope.

This is why I stood up last summer and said we cannot base our entire Pakistan policy on President Musharraf. Pakistan is our ally, but we do our own security and our ally no favors by supporting its President while we are seen to be ignoring the interests of the people. Our counter-terrorism assistance must be conditioned on Pakistani action to root out the al Qaeda sanctuary. And any U.S. aid not directly needed for the fight against al Qaeda or to invest in the Pakistani people should be conditioned on the full restoration of Pakistan’s democracy and rule of law.

The choice is not between Musharraf and Islamic extremists. As the recent legislative elections showed, there is a moderate majority of Pakistanis, and they are the people we need on our side to win the war against al Qaeda. That is why we should dramatically increase our support for the Pakistani people – for education, economic development, and democratic institutions. That child in Pakistan must know that we want a better life for him, that America is on his side, and that his interest in opportunity is our interest as well. That’s the promise that America must stand for.

And for his sake and ours, we cannot tolerate a sanctuary for terrorists who threaten America’s homeland and Pakistan’s stability. If we have actionable intelligence about high-level al Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot. Senator Clinton, Senator McCain, and President Bush have all distorted and derided this position, suggesting that I would invade or bomb Pakistan. This is politics, pure and simple. My position, in fact, is the same pragmatic policy that all three of them have belatedly – if tacitly – acknowledged is one we should pursue. Indeed, it was months after I called for this policy that a top al Qaeda leader was taken out in Pakistan by an American aircraft. And remember that the same three individuals who now criticize me for supporting a targeted strike on the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, are the same three individuals that supported an invasion of Iraq – a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

It is precisely this kind of political point-scoring that has opened up the security gap in this country. We have a security gap when candidates say they will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but refuse to follow him where he actually goes. What we need in our next Commander in Chief is not a stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality or empty rhetoric about 3AM phone calls. What we need is a pragmatic strategy that focuses on fighting our real enemies, rebuilding alliances, and renewing our engagement with the world’s people.

In addition to freeing up resources to take the fight to al Qaeda, ending the war in Iraq will allow us to more effectively confront other threats in the world - threats that cannot be conquered with an occupying army or dispatched with a single decision in the middle of the night. What lies in the heart of a child in Pakistan matters as much as the airplanes we sell her government. What’s in the head of a scientist from Russia can be as lethal as a plutonium reactor in Yongbyon. What’s whispered in refugee camps in Chad can be as dangerous as a dictator’s bluster. These are the neglected landscapes of the 21st century, where technology and extremism empower individuals just as they give governments the ability to repress them; where the ancient divides of region and religion wash into the swift currents of globalization.

Without American leadership, these threats will fester. With strong American leadership, we can shape them into opportunities to protect our common security and advance our common humanity – for it has always been the genius of American leadership to find opportunity embedded in adversity; to focus on a source of fear, and confront it with hope.
Here are just five ways in which a shift in strategy away from Iraq will help us address the critical challenges of the 21st century.

First, in addressing global terror and violent extremism, we need the kind of comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy I called for last August. We need to strengthen security partnerships to take out terrorist networks, while investing in education and opportunity. We need to give our national security agencies the tools they need, while restoring the adherence to rule of law that helps us win the battle for hearts and minds. This means closing Guantanamo, restoring habeas corpus, and respecting civil liberties. And we need to support the forces of moderation in the Islamic world, so that alliances of convenience mature into friendships of conviction.

Second, the threat of nuclear proliferation must serve as a call to action. I have worked across the aisle with Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel in the Senate to secure dangerous weapons and loose nuclear materials. And as President, I will secure all loose nuclear materials around the world in my first term, seek deep cuts in global nuclear arsenals, strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and once more seek a world without nuclear weapons.

Third, the danger of weak and failed states risks spreading poverty and refugees; genocide and disease. Now is the time to meet the goal of cutting extreme poverty in half, in part by doubling our foreign assistance while demanding more from those who receive it. And now is the time to build the capacity of regional partners in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and the reconstruction of ravaged societies.

Fourth, the catastrophic consequences of the global climate crisis are matched by the promise of collective action. Now is the time for America to lead, because if we take action, others will act as well. Through our own cap and trade system and investments in new sources of energy, we can end our dependence on foreign oil and gas, and free ourselves from the tyranny of oil-rich states from Saudi Arabia to Russia to Venezuela. We can create millions of new jobs here in America. And we can secure our planet for our children and grandchildren.

And fifth, America’s sluggish economy risks ceding our economic prominence to a rising China. Competition has always been a catalyst for American innovation, and now should be no different. We must invest in the education of our children, renew our leadership in science, and advance trade that is not just free, but fair for our workers. We must ensure that America is the economic engine in the 21st century just as we were in the 20th.

I have no illusions that any of this will be easy. But I do know that we can only begin to make these changes when we end the mindset that focuses on Iraq and ignores the rest of the world.
I also know that meeting these new threats will require a President who deploys the power of tough, principled diplomacy. It is time to present a country like Iran with a clear choice. If it abandons its nuclear program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, then Iran can rejoin the community of nations – with all the benefits that entails. If not, Iran will face deeper isolation and steeper sanctions. When we engage directly, we will be in a stronger position to rally real international support for increased pressure. We will also engender more goodwill from the Iranian people. And make no mistake – if and when we ever have to use military force against any country, we must exert the power of American diplomacy first.

Once again, Senator Clinton, Senator McCain, and President Bush have made the same arguments against my position on diplomacy, as if reading from the same political playbook. They say I’ll be penciling the world’s dictators on to my social calendar. But just as they are misrepresenting my position, they are mistaken in standing up for a policy of not talking that is not working. What I’ve said is that we cannot seize opportunities to resolve our problems unless we create them. That is what Kennedy did with Khrushchev; what Nixon did with Mao; what Reagan did with Gorbachev. And that is what I will do as President of the United States.

What I have talked about today is a new strategy, a new set of priorities for pursuing our interests in the 21st century. And as President, I will provide the tools required to implement this strategy. When President Truman put the policy of containment in place, he also invested in and organized our government to carry it out –creating the National Security Council and the CIA, and founding NATO. Now, we must upgrade our tools of power to fit a new strategy.

That starts with enhancing the finest military in the history of the world. As Commander in Chief, I will begin by giving a military overstretched by Iraq the support it needs. It is time to reduce the strain on our troops by completing the effort to increase our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines, while ensuring the quality of our troops. In an age marked by technology, it is the people of our military – our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen – who bear the responsibility for complex missions. That is why we need to ensure adequate training and time home between deployments. That is why we need to expand our Special Forces. And that is why we must increase investments in capabilities like civil affairs and training foreign militaries.

But we cannot place the burden of a new national security strategy on our military alone. We must integrate our diplomatic, information, economic and military power. That is why, as soon as I take office, I will call for a National Strategy and Security Review, to help determine a 21st Century inter-agency structure to integrate the elements of our national power.

In addition, I will invest in our civilian capacity to operate alongside our troops in post-conflict zones and on humanitarian and stabilization missions. Instead of shuttering consulates in tough corners of the world, it’s time to grow our Foreign Service and to expand USAID. Instead of giving up on the determination of young people to serve, it’s time to double the size of our Peace Corps. Instead of letting people learn about America from enemy propaganda, it’s time to recruit, train, and send out into the world an America’s Voice Corps.

And while we strengthen our own capacity, we must strengthen the capability of the international community. We honor NATO’s sacrifice in Afghanistan, but we must strive to make it a larger and more nimble alliance. We must work with powers like Russia and China, but we must also speak up for human rights and democracy – and we can start now by speaking out for the human rights and religious freedom of the people of Tibet. And while we are frustrated by the UN, we must invest in its capability to keep the peace, resolve disputes, monitor disarmament, and support good governance around the world – and that depends on a more engaged United States.

We are at a defining moment in our history.

We can choose the path of unending war and unilateral action, and sap our strength and standing. We can choose the path of disengagement, and cede our leadership. Or, we can meet fear and danger head-on with hope and strength; with common purpose as a united America; and with common cause with old allies and new partners.

What we’ve seen these last few years is what happens when the rigid ideology and dysfunctional politics of Washington is projected abroad. An ideology that does not fit the shape of the times cannot shape events in foreign countries. A politics that is based on fear and division does not allow us to call on the world to hope, and keeps us from coming together as one people, as one nation, to write the next great chapter in the American story.

We also know that there is another face of America that we have seen these last five years. From down the road at Fort Bragg, our soldiers have gone abroad with a greater sense of common purpose than their leaders in Washington. They have learned the lessons of the 21st century’s wars. And they have shown a sense of service and selflessness that represents the very best of the American character.

This must be the election when we stand up and say that we will serve them as well as they have served us. This must be the election when America comes together behind a common purpose on behalf of our security and our values. That is what we do as Americans. It’s how we founded a republic based on freedom, and faced down fascism. It’s how we defended democracy through a Cold War, and shined a light of hope bright enough to be seen in the darkest corners of the world.
When America leads with principle and pragmatism, hope can triumph over fear. It is time, once again, for America to lead.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Governor Bill Richardson Endorses Barack Obama

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico endorsed Barack Obama today in Portland Oregon. A globally renowned ambassador, executive, and foreign affairs expert, Governor Richardson’s trailblazing campaign for the presidency energized voters and boosted the Democratic Party’s foreign policy credentials in this critical election. Richardson also serves as a Democratic superdelegate.

“Today I am endorsing Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States because I believe he is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime leader that can bring our nation together and restore America’s moral leadership in the world,” Governor Richardson said. “As a Presidential candidate, I know full well Senator Obama's unique ability to inspire the American people to confront our urgent challenges at home and abroad in a spirit of bipartisanship and reconciliation.”Over the course of a distinguished career as legislator, cabinet secretary, and diplomat, Richardson developed a nuanced understanding of America’s role in the world and the best uses of our power—issues that led him to choose Obama as the best equipped to handle the challenges facing the next President. Richardson served seven terms in Congress before being appointed by President Clinton to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations and, later, Secretary of Energy. He was elected Governor in 2002 and reelected in 2006. Richardson has negotiated with some of the world’s most unsavory regimes to secure the release of American prisoners, and has been active in seeking to secure loose nuclear materials and end the genocide in Darfur, both priorities shared by Senator Obama.

“Whether it was as a congressman or cabinet secretary, ambassador or governor, there are few more distinguished public servants in America than Governor Richardson, and I am deeply honored to have his support,” Senator Obama said. “He knows that to secure American interests, we have to talk to our enemies, as well as our friends, which is why he stood up to North Korea and Saddam Hussein to secure the release of American hostages. And that’s the kind of tough, aggressive diplomacy we need to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.” Including Richardson, 62 superdelegates have endorsed Obama since February 5—compared to only two gained by Senator Clinton—as elected officials and party leaders are increasingly drawn to his unifying vision and broad coalition for change.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama Receives Endorsement of Flag Officers from Army, Navy and Air Force

From Wednesday, March 12th (last week):

Citing his judgment and ability to lead, admirals and generals from the United States Army, Navy and Air Force that together have served under the last nine Commanders-in-Chief today announced their endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president.

In offering their endorsement, the generals and admirals recognized Obama’s judgment to oppose the war in Iraq before it began, his respect for the Constitution and rule of law, his leadership on behalf of America’s servicemen and women and his ability to conduct the diplomacy necessary to restore America’s standing in the world.

"Those of us who have served, worn the cloth of our nation, and gone into harm's way know that to be successful we must have the strongest sense of trust in our Commander in Chief. We must be confident that he or she has listened to the best possible advice, that he or she has garnered the best possible information from all possible sources, that he or she has analyzed and weighed all the possible consequences and outcomes, and that he or she has made the decision to exert military force as a last possible resort,” said Admiral (Ret.) Robert “William” Williamson (USN). “Of this I am certain: Senator Obama will do all of those things and much more to ensure the safety and f reedom of our citizens, our allies, and coalition partners. He has all the great qualities and attributes required to carry out the most difficult duties of the Presidency.

“I spent a career involved in coalition warfare, and I am keenly aware of the importance of working with allies,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) James Smith (USAF). “Senator Obama brings a powerful approach to dealing with national security challenges by truly leveraging multinational relationships. He brings a new face of America to the rest of the world."

“Senator Obama has a profound, even scholarly knowledge of our Constitution and he has the deepest respect for the rule of law. As a career naval officer, I trust his judgment, his temperament, and his ability to analyze complex international situations and relationships and to make military decisions that are in the best long term interests of the United States,” said Admiral (Ret.) Don Guter (USN). “It will take the powerful leadership of Senator Obama to forge the consensus we need to right our ship of state, restore our honorable place in the world, and secure the safety of our nation."

“As a child of the Greatest Generation I learned that the attraction, glory and resilience of America come from the principle of “We the People.” In my four decades in the national security arena I developed an increasing appreciation for the intent and expectations of this principle, particularly in terms of the Common Defense and Domestic Tranquility,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) David McGinnis (ARNG). “In recent years, enticed to believe that these roles belonged to a chosen elite, each of us have paid an increasing price in loss of power, liberties, and national treasure. Today, by every measure, our current strategic situation is not good. It is from that perspective I believe only Senator Obama offers us the opportunity to reclaim our Republic, restore our national dignity and ensure our overall security. I salute his leadership, embrace his candidacy, and commend his courage.”

Obama is the grandson of a soldier who marched in Patton’s Army. Throughout his career, he has exercised the judgment and leadership required of a Commander-in-Chief. In 2002, he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, cautioning that it could lead to "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences” at a time when conventional Washington was lining up for war. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has worked across the aisle to secure the world’s most dangerous weapons and as a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he has compiled a record of standing up for America’s troops and veterans, leading a bipartisan effort to improve care for injured troops, passing laws to fight homelessness among veterans, and increase screening for Traumatic Brain Injury. Over the course of the last year, Obama has unveiled a comprehensive national security agenda that includes detailed plans to secure America from the threat of terrorism, responsibly end the war in Iraq and renew American diplomacy to restore our standing in the world.
The following admirals and generals endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president:

Brigadier General Larry Gillespie. Gillespie has led a distinguished 33-year career with the U.S. Army. He served as the Assistant Deputy Commanding General, (ARNG) Army Material Command. He is a recognized authority in many of the technical challenges and solutions associated with Homeland Security and National Defense. As a civilian, General Gillespie has held a series of increasingly important positions with the Air Transport Association, Hughes Aircraft Company, Raytheon Systems Company, NCI, Hampton University, and Eagle Force Association.

Major General Scott Gration (USAF-Ret). General Gration is a retired two-star general and was the Director of Strategy, Policy, and Assessments of the United States European Command in Germany. General Gration was raised in Africa and entered the Air Force in 1974 through the Air Force ROTC program at Rutgers University. He served as a White House Fellow, operations group commander and two-time wing commander. The general served as Director of Regional Affairs in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. General Gration served as the Commander of Task Force West during Operation Iraqi F reedom. His aerial combat experience includes almost a thousand hours of combat time with 274 combat missions over Iraq.

Admiral Don Guter. Admiral Guter served in the U.S. Navy for 32 years, concluding his career as the Navy’s Judge Advocate General from 2000 to 2002. Admiral Guter currently serves as the Dean of Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh, PA. He also is executive director of the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation.

Brigadier General David “Dave” McGinnis. General McGinnis was the Chief of Staff of the National Guard Association of the U.S. McGinnis served as director of strategic plans and analysis for the Honorable Deborah R. Lee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. He served two tours in Vietnam before leaving the active Army in 1972 and joining the New York National Guard that same year. In 1990, he became branch chief of the force management division at National Guard Bureau (NGB) in Washington. Subsequent assignments included Deputy Chief from 1991-92 and Director from 1992-1993.

General Merrill “Tony” McPeak. General McPeak is a retired four star general and served as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force during Operation Desert Storm. McPeak entered the Air Force in 1957 and was appointed Chief of Staff in 1990, holding that office until his retirement in1994. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, McPeak served as a top wartime advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council. General McPeak is the recipient of the Silver Star, Distinguished Service Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross. He was a fighter pilot and flew over 300 combat missions in Vietnam.

Admiral John B. Nathman. During his thirty-seven year career with the U.S. Navy, Admiral Nathman held a variety of positions in naval air and sea-based operations, finishing his service as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Admiral Nathman became a naval aviator, ultimately serving as an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School. In 1971, Admiral Nathman earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering from the University of West Florida. He attained Flag rank in 1994 and served in a number of command positions, including with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Naval Air Forces, and U.S. Fleet Forces. Admiral Nathman also served as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Major General Hugh Robinson. A West Point graduate, Robinson was promoted to brigadier general and became the Corps of Engineers’first African American general officer. He served as deputy director of Civil Works, and in 1980 assumed command of the Southwestern Division, a position he held until his retirement in 1983 as a major general. In 1965, he was appointed as military aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Robinson was the first African American to serve in that position and held the appointment throughout the remainder of Johnson’s presidency.
Brigadier General James Smith. Smith retired from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general and served as Commander, Joint Warfighting Center, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center. He was responsible for managing the joint force exercise and training development program and the modeling, simulation and deploying of solutions that demonstrated high probability of operational success. His previous assignments included Commander, 18th Wing; Vice Director for Operations, Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command; Commander, 325th Operations Group; and CSAF Chair, National War College.

Admiral Robert “Willie” Williamson (USN-Ret Rear Admiral). Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Williamson served as military Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition and Director, Office of Program Appraisal. He was the senior military advisor on the Secretary of the Navy staff. Williamson commanded the aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, during Desert Storm, and his last operational assignment was Commander, Carrier Group Two, (John F. Kennedy Battle Group), Deploying to the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas in support of allied operations in Bosnia.

Major General Ralph Wooten. Wooten is a former Commanding General of the Army’s Chemical Arsenal. His civilian corporate career includes Management of large material management and control of multi-million Department of Defense programs. He served 31 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a Commanding General. During his military career he crafted strategic vision, formulated operations plans, developed investment strategies, controlled facilities and equipment, executed multi-million dollar budgets, and provided leadership, direction and advocacy to human resources numbered in the thousands, and corporate management to major military installations. He is currently the Executive Vice President of Management Systems, Inc.

As Prepared for Delivery:

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama Endorsement by US Admirals and Generals Chicago History Museum March 12, 2008

It is my privilege to be joined by some of the distinguished generals and admirals supporting my campaign. They have defended the American people and stood up for American values with honor and distinction. Between them they have served nine Commanders-in-Chief, and I look forward to continuing to draw on their counsel throughout my campaign and beyond.
As as a candidate for the presidency, I know that I am running to be Commander-in-Chief – to safeguard this nation's security, and to keep our sacred trust with the men and women who serve. There is no responsibility that I take more seriously.

This is something that I’ve talked about throughout this campaign. Because I believe that any candidate for President must present the American people with a clear vision of how we will lead. There are real differences between the candidates, and important issues to debate – from ending the war in Iraq, to combating terrorism, to devising new strategies and new capabilities to confront 21st century threats.

But recently, we’ve seen a different kind of approach. Instead of a serious, substantive debate, we’ve heard vague allusions to a “Commander-in-Chief threshold” that seems to be about nothing more than the number of years you’ve spent in Washington.

This is exactly what’s wrong with the national security debate in Washington.

After years of a divisive politics that uses national security as a wedge to drive us apart, how much longer do we have to wait to bring this country together to confront our common enemies?
After years of being told that Democrats have to talk, act and vote like John McCain to pass some Commander-in-Chief test, how many times do we have to learn that tough talk is not a substitute for sound judgment?

After years of a war in Iraq that should’ve never been authorized, how many more politicians will appeal to the American peoples’ fears instead of their hopes?

This moment – in this election – is our chance to put an end to a divisive politics that has done nothing to keep America safe, or to serve our men and women in uniform as well as they are serving us. Because the real Commander-in-Chief threshold doesn’t have to do with years tallied up in Washington, it has to do with the judgment and vision that you will bring to the Oval Office.
On the most important national security question since the Cold War, I am the only candidate who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. This judgment was not about speeches, it was about whether or not the United States of America would go to war in Iraq. Because we did, we took our eye off al Qaeda; we have lost thousands of lives and spent hundreds of billions of dollars; our military is overstretched; and our security and standing has been set back. So don’t tell me that the decision to go to war was just a speech, because it was far more than that to the men and women who have served – and continue to serve heroically in Iraq.

When I spoke out against the war, I said that I was not opposed to all wars. In fact, one of the central reasons why I opposed going to war in Iraq is that we had yet to finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. That remains true today. That is why I have consistently called for an increased commitment to Afghanistan, and why I called last August for at least two additional combat brigades to support our mission there. And that is why I will end the war in Iraq when I am President, and focus on finishing the job in Afghanistan.

I will never hesitate to defend this country and our critical interests. That is why I am the only candidate who has made it clear that we cannot tolerate any safe-haven for terrorists who threaten America. But we must also use all elements of national power to combat the threats of the 21st century, and that means deploying the power of American diplomacy before we deploy our troops. That is why we must be willing to talk to the leaders of all nations – friend and foe.
The threats we face are increasingly unconventional, and they call for new approaches. I have worked on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to combat the challenges of the 21st Century – securing loose weapons and nuclear materials from terrorists; working to stop ethnic killing and genocide in Africa; and investing in our ability to combat epidemic diseases like avian flu that can be deadly at home and sew instability abroad.

And one theme that I hear in talking to military officers – whether generals and admirals, or the mid-level officers who will lead tomorrow’s military – is that we need new capabilities to respond to this century’s new threats.

We must maintain our overwhelming conventional advantage – and I will. We also need to increase the size of our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to relieve the strain on our troops, and to increase our capacity to put boots on the ground. We need to invest in capabilities like civil affairs, foreign languages, and training foreign militaries, so that we can confront nimble enemies. We need to give our civilian agencies the ability to operate alongside our military in post-conflict zones and on humanitarian missions. And we must inspire a new generation of Americans to serve their country, in the military and in a civilian capacity.
And let me be very clear: when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will seek out, listen to, and respect the views of military commanders. Under this Administration, too often we have seen civilian control turned into an expectation that the uniformed military will be punished if they tell the President what he needs to know, rather than what he wants to hear. When I am President, the buck will stop with me, but we will restore trust and open dialogue between the military and civilian leadership.

Finally, it is the sacred obligation of any Commander in Chief to give the men and women who have served the care and support they have earned. That is what I have tried to do on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee – working to improve care and benefits for wounded warriors and their families, and to enhance screening and treatment for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As President, I will ask myself every day whether I am serving our troops and veterans as well as they have served America. That means only sending them into harm’s way when we absolutely must; providing them with a clear mission and the equipment they need to do the job; standing by them when they come home; and helping them live their dreams after they leave the service.

Like the men who have joined me on this stage today, my story is only possible in America. It is the story of my grandfather, who marched in Patton’s Army; and my father, who crossed the globe to be a part of the dream that my grandfather defended. An America that secures its people, and stands as a light of hope for the world.

That is the America that I will defend as Commander-in-Chief, drawing on the counsel of military commanders and the courage and conviction of the American people. An America where we meet the challenges of the 21st century with sound judgment, clear plans, and a common purpose.