Obama talks Iraq, climate in S.F.

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama electrified a crowd of more than 6,000 supporters Wednesday night at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, promising universal health care, an end to the war in Iraq and an improved education system.

As part of his “Countdown to Change” tour across the country, Obama made the San Francisco stop with the on-stage support of local favorites including former Giants manager Dusty Baker and author Alice Walker.

Patrick and Denise Edwards of San Francisco went to the event together but for different reasons. For Denise, hearing Obama speak about the war in Iraq was worth the $30 admission.

“A stable economy,” Patrick injected. “Right now we’re on a downward spiral.”

Obama didn’t touch on the economy, but he did mention Iraq more than once.

“As president, I will end the war in Iraq,” he said. “I will bring the troops home. I will close Guantanamo.”

He said, “When I am the Democratic nominee, my Republican opposition will not be able to say I voted for the war.”

The Illinois senator listed climate change, nuclear weapons, poverty, HIV and AIDS and the genocide in Darfur as issues he plans to address.

“I am in this race to tell the lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over…. They will not work in my White House,” Obama said to wild cheers.

If elected, he said, he would remove tax brakes for companies that outsource jobs to other countries.

Jeff Liang of San Francisco was impressed by the senator’s speech.

“Electric,” he said of Obama. “The thing about the lobbyists was great. The crowd loved it all. It’s more about him than anything else. It’s about hope.”

Manik Suri of San Francisco agreed, adding that Obama’s energy struck him. Suri said he was glad to hear the candidate discuss lowering the cost of college and getting the United States out of Iraq.

“He understands issues unlike any other politician,” Suri said.

Marin high school students Tiara Lewis and Samantha Deer agreed they came “to see our future husband.” They both attended the event to hear Obama talk about universal health care.

“He said he’s going to be president of both blue and red states,” Deer said. “I want to see how he does that, how he’s going to be president of purple states.”

No matter what issues people came to see Obama speak about, they all agreed with one sentiment about the election.

“Here’s the good news,” he said. “The name Bush will not be on the ballot.”

— Bay City News

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