Senator Barak Obama appeared at the Cherokee Community Center on Monday as the third appearance on a tour through Northwest Iowa that began in Spencer and ended in Sioux City.
Those attending the event crowded into the main community center room, filling the stage and lining the walls to see the Illinois senator who is in a tight competition for support during the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.
Obama criticized the present administration as corrupt and wasteful. He stated that the richest Americans are getting tax breaks while others fight a losing battle against a declining standard of living.
"The dream so many fought for seems to be slipping away," Obama stated.
He noted that working people have reasonable expectations -- to earn a decent living without being bankrupted by medical bills, to be able to send kids to college without being rich and to have a dignified retirement.
"I want to banish the term 'working poor.' A person who works should not be poor," Obama said.
He pledged that everyone would be covered by health insurance by the end of his first term in office. Obama noted that having adequate coverage makes for more cost effective treatment. Without it, treatment is often delayed until the patient needs to go to an emergency room.
Obama also advocated that prevention be a part of a cost effective health plan.
Obama criticizes our involvement in Iraq but does not advocate immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He is in favor of setting a timetable for bringing home troops.
He is critical of our foreign policy in general, which he ties in with energy policy or what he regards as the lack of one.
"We give $800 million a day to hostile nations because of our addiction to oil, and we're melting the polar ice caps in the bargain," Obama said.
He supports alternative energy development but believes that we cannot rely on corn to ethanol but must also develop cellulose-based conversion to energy to make cost effective alternative fuels.
Obama also recognizes that coal is the major source of energy for creating electricity in Iowa and that power companies must move toward trapping carbon emissions.
Obama notes that he doesn't take PAC money or any other special interest contributions.
He supports more teacher pay and he opposes mandates that require schools to teach to tests for particular academic subject matter at the expense of a well-rounded educational program that includes art, music and literature.
Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961. He lived for most of his childhood in Hawaii and spent four of his pre-teen years in the multi-ethnic Indonesian capital of Jakarta. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer, university lecturer, and civil rights lawyer before running for public office. He served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, launching his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2003.
Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention while still an Illinois state legislator. He went on to win election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.