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Updated story on Obama’s Seattle appearance

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Dec. 12, 2007 at 9:38 am with No Comments »
December 12, 2007 9:38 am

This morning’s paper has an earlier version of the David Ammons story on Barack Obama’s Seattle appearance.

Here is a later version…


AP Political Writer

SEATTLE (AP) — It was well past midnight, Eastern time, when a drooping Barack Obama took the campaign stage. His opening line riffed on an old Tom Hanks movie: "I’m in Seattle and I’m sleepless. I don’t get enough sleep."

But the mostly youthful crowd was juiced from an evening of teeth-rattling rock music and Obama quickly shook off his fatigue and launched into a full-throated 25-minute speech that took aim at the Bush-Cheney years, but also his own fellow Democratic contenders for the White House.

By wrap-up time, he was in full pulpit-pounding shout, summoning the memories of the great civil rights leaders and painting an activist future of peace, environmental progress, racial equality, outstanding schools and health care for all, as well as harmony with the rest of the world.

"Seattle, our moment is now!" he cried Tuesday night.

Obama, paying a return visit to one of the West’s strongest Democratic bastions, raised money at three events and exhorted his backers to give him a victory in the state’s Feb. 9 caucuses, which will be a follow-up to the "Super-duper Tuesday" Feb. 5 primaries set in many states.

He drew some of his strongest reaction by noting that next year’s ballot won’t include the names of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. He said "being against Bush is easy," and proceeded to blame him for everything from unprovoked war to corporate greed and environmental decay.

But he also said Democrats and the country need to be more than just Bush-bashers. "The question is not what are you against, but what are you for?" he said.

As he has in recent days, Obama portrayed his Democratic competitors, particularly Hillary Clinton, as Washington, D.C., insiders, defenders of the status quo and politicians who are likely to allow America’s problems to linger without decisive action.

Without mentioning Clinton by name, Obama said the country can’t afford to allow endless years of debate over health care, an issue Clinton tackled unsuccessfully when she was first lady. He also criticized Clinton and other Democrats who voted to authorize the war in Iraq and to "saber-rattle" with Iran and to oppose his suggestions to support direct contact with North Korea.

"I don’t want to spend the next four years fighting the same old battles," he told the crowd.

Obama said the country needs a big dose of what Martin Luther King Jr. called "fierce urgency."

He said young people and other voters have a right to be cynical about a national government that, year after year, seems to let problems fester.

"I want us to rally together to get great things done," Obama said.

At least 1,500 people showed up for the fundraiser at the Showbox SoDo nightclub. Regular tickets were $100 and students were admitted for $35. Obama earlier dropped by two other Seattle fundraisers.

"He’s the most inspiring politician in my lifetime," said Sandra Smith, 27, a graduate student at The Evergreen State College. "I’ve read his books and I’m extremely enthused. He talked about low-income people and higher education and education and the environment."

Obama was last in Seattle in June, drawing 3,500 to a rally at Qwest Field Events Center. He campaigned for Sen. Maria Cantwell and Democratic candidates in several appearances last year before moving his own White House campaign into high gear.

State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz said the presidential campaign remains fluid in Washington state, where caucuses are now less than two months away. The state also has a primary on Feb. 19, but it’s strictly a beauty contest for Democrats, who are selecting all of their national convention delegates through the caucus process.

Clinton, who had star billing at the state Democratic Party’s annual fall awards reception in October, is generally viewed as the front-runner in the state.

Clinton’s campaign has attracted many of the state party’s establishment figures, although Gov. Chris Gregoire, both U.S. senators and most of the party "superdelegates" remain uncommitted.

On the eve of Obama’s Seattle visit, the Clinton campaign rolled out the names of a blue-chip steering committee. Co-chairmen, previously announced, are former Gov. Gary Locke, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Ron Sims. Also on the extensive list are strategists Cathy Allen and Christian Sinderman, Microsoft executive DeLee Shoemaker, philanthropist Laurie McDonald Jonsson, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon and Women’s Political Caucus Chairwoman Linda Mitchell.

Obama spokeswoman Jan Psaki said the Washington campaign for Obama is starting to show clear signs of momentum.

"What we’re seeing in Washington state is the same we’re seeing elsewhere around the country, that people are watching the developments and seeing the exciting movement in the four early states," she said in an interview. "So we feel we have some real momentum here and we hope to be strong heading into the Washington primary (and caucuses)."

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, one of Obama’s earliest congressional supporters, is his state chairman.

Others endorsing him include Seattle City Council President Nick Licata, state Sens. Ken Jacobsen, Derek Kilmer, Chris Marr and Ed Murray and a number of state House members.

Other Democrats, particularly former Sen. John Edwards, also are contesting Washington.

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