By Kenneth Miller
Sentinel Managing Editor
Christine G. Sabathia
Sentinel Staff Writer
As the country begins to hone in on the upcoming caucuses, the first of which will be held January 3, 2008 in Iowa and continue through February 5, 2008, Senator Barack Obama is steadily gaining momentum, all the while remaining focused on addressing the most critical issues of the American people.
He has lately attracted new faces to his political rallies with the addition of the highly regarded Oprah Winfrey on his campaign trail. And, he has gained an endorsement from Congresswoman Barbara Lee who represents more registered Democrats (over 200,000) than any other congressional district in the state of California. But, ultimately, it’s his consistent message of hope, change and leading the country in new direction that draws in the overwhelming support.
During his recent visit to Los Angeles, where such support was visible as throngs of people gathered for a political rally on Monday, the senator gave an update of his campaign to become the next president of the United States.
“What I know is this – that the American people want change,” he said to reporters during a conference call on Tuesday morning. “They don’t buy into this notion that the next president should be selected simply by virtue of longevity in Washington because they don’t think Washington works.
“…What I think the American people are evaluating is whether those who have been in power and worked their networks have actually delivered for the people, and I think the American people have concluded that things are broken and we need to try something new.”
And that’s where Senator Obama steps in – breaking out of the conventional Washington thinking in terms of foreign policy and adding new divisions in his administration as it relates to domestic issues.
With respect to issues of foreign policy, he explains that it’s a combination of his experience living and traveling oversees and his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that point to his ability to “break out of the conventional Washington thinking that has led us to so many of the foreign policy disasters that we’ve seen over the last several years.”
Addressing the domestic front, namely the issue of race tensions among minority communities and police departments, Obama says he will have a pro-active civil rights division in his administration. “I don’t want this civil rights division just to come in and investigate after something like a Jena 6,” he said. “I want a civil rights division that is actively reaching out to local law enforcement and working with police chiefs around the country to lift up best practices that engage the community, train police officers in ways that are appropriate when it comes to issues of race that prevents some of things from happening so that they do their job, which is to protect and to serve.”
On other domestic issues, Obama commented that while on his campaign trail health care continues to dominate discussions he has with the American people. But he also said that increasingly he’s heard much talk about the situation of sub-prime lending, which he considers “a mess.”
As for the recent Supreme Court ruling, Obama stated that he was pleased with the decision that allows federal judges to impose lighter prison sentences for crack cocaine offenders. “That, I think, is a step in the right direction,” he added. “This is part of the broader process that I’ve spoken about repeatedly over the course of this campaign about needing to restore a sense of balance, justice and fairness into our criminal justice system, particularly as it applies to African Americans.”
The aforementioned issues are just some of the many that Senator Obama anticipates taking on as president of the United States, a race he feels he is confident he will win, but a race, nonetheless, he’s in for the long-haul.
“We’re in this thing to win and to govern,” he said. “I’m in this race because I feel we have an urgent set of problems that we have to deal with, and I believe we can lead this country to deal with them.”