Tuesday, April 22, 2008


UPDATE--7:40 a.m.--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) won Pennsylvania decisively last night by a 10 point margin, 55 to 45 percent. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) won several counties in Southeastern Pa.--including Philadelphia, with a 30 point margin--and counties in central Pa., but lost heavily throughout the rest of the state. Obama won in Chester, Lancaster, Delaware and Philadelphia counties in Southeastern Pa., including a 55-45 percent margin in Chester County.

The next contests are in Guam on May 3 and Indiana and North Carolina, together on May 6. --HENRY ROME


Henry Rome/The SPOKE

Henry Rome
Managing Editor

WAYNE - Pennsylvania voters flocked to the polls today for the state's critical primary, a primary that has been called by some analysts the deciding force in determining the Democratic presidential nominee.

Polls close at 8:00 pm.

Polling stations were busy today across Chester County. At one polling station in Devon, roughly 70% of the precinct's Democrats voted with still over an hour left for voting, according to party and election officials, reflecting the intensity and anticipation of the race, especially among the Democrats.

Analysts say today's Democratic primary between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will decide who wins the nomination. Harrisburg-based political analyst David La Torre said in an interview with The Spoke that the primary is do-or-die for Clinton.

"This primary means everything for Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton loses, she's done. If she wins, there's a good chance she can take the nomination," La Torre said.

"Typically, Pennsylvania has been a foregone conclusion. Now all Pennsylvania voters really have an opportunity to select the eventual nominee."

Both candidates have focused heavily on Pennsylvania over the past few weeks, making dozens of visits to the state. Tonight, Hillary Clinton will host an election results party in Philadelphia. Barack Obama will move on to Indiana, where he, along with his wife, will hold a rally with singer John Mellencamp.

After weeks of hard campaigning in a primary that could mean everything in the presidential race, the campaigns today sent out last e-mails to supporters pleading for volunteer support or votes.

"Everything we've worked for together comes down to what we do in these next few hours," Obama Pa. State Director Paul Tewes said in an e-mail.

"This race is close, and we need every last vote in Pennsylvania," Clinton Pa. State Director Mary Isenhour said in an e-mail.

At the Baptist Church in the Great Valley, in Devon, the warm spring weather and calm atmosphere at the polling place belied the intensity of the past weeks. Party officials earlier tonight offered sample ballots to those about to enter the voting area, which was inside a cramped room in the lower level of the church.

"We have all the excitement," Rochelle Rabin, the precinct Democratic Committee person, said. "There's a lot of anticipation."

Rabin, along with other officials, manned the Democratic table, which featured literature from both the Obama and Clinton campaigns. The Tredyffrin Democrats have not endorsed either candidate.

Inside the polling place, voters did not touch screens or punch ballots but instead circled in holes--not unlike the SAT.

"It's been a long time" since I've taken the SATs, voters could be heard saying as they filed through the voting lines.

"I was sorry I didn't bring my reading glasses," Rabin said.

News Copy Editor Seth Zweifler contributed to this report.


Stay tuned to stoganews.com for complete election results.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Obama pulls into Paoli

Jonathan Yu/The SPOKE

By Sonia Khandekar
Managing Editor

PAOLI—As the train pulled into the station, Obama stepped onto the Paoli Train Station for his whistle-stop railway tour aboard the “change train,” amidst chanting of “Yes We Can” and “O, B, A-M-A, he’s going to change the USA.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama boarded a patriotic train car, heading from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station towards Harrsiburg, as part of his “Track for Change” campaign. Obama addressed a crowd of 3,000 supporters in Paoli Station’s parking lot, touching on subjects ranging from the economy to the need for political change.

Obama noted the importance of the approaching Pennsylvania primary, emphasizing that Pennsylvania voters have the opportunity to make history.

“We’ve got four days before we bring change to America,” Obama said. “This is now our moment, this is now our turn.”

The speech included familiar Obama campaign statements, especially the need to change the way politics works and how business is done in Washington.

“We’ve got to look forward, not backwards,” Obama said. “Unless you’re willing to bring about change, change won’t happen.”

Obama also used the train platform to note the differences between his platform and that of Hillary Clinton, as well as the flaws in John McCain’s policies.

“We [the Democratic Party] are going to be unified in November, but [right now there is a choice],” Obama said.

Obama criticized the Bush Administration, highlighting that a McCain presidency would be “another Bush term.” He stressed that “the name of [his] cousin Dick Cheney would not be on the ballot.”

“We [Cheney and Obama] have not gone on a family hunting trip yet,” Obama jokingly added.

By the end of the speech, cheering supporters could be heard shouting “You’re the man,” and “I love you.”

Obama emphasized that he is the best candidate running and under his presidency, “we can have a government of and by and for the people.”

“I will always tell you what I think, I will always tell you where I stand,” Obama said.

At the end of the speech, Obama walked around shaking hands and signing autographs of supporters, thanking them for their backing.

“Thank you Paoli, I love you,” Obama said.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John McCain at Villanova

Henry Rome/The SPOKE

By Henry Rome
Managing Editor

VILLANOVA - In a race that has drawn incredible interest among young people, it was no surprise that two young people stole the show as presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, live from Villanova University.

    The first questioner from the audience asked McCain if he thought he was a "typical white person," a question that was met with laughter.

    The second questioner, a junior at Villanova, asked if McCain thought Democratic contender Hillary Clinton was finally "hitting the sauce," referencing the New York senator's recent shot-drinking episode in Indiana.

    "I was wondering if you would care to join me for a shot after this," the student, Peter Doocy, said.

    "Whatever makes Senator Clinton happy," McCain said to laughter. "You know, I've had two of the best questions, or the toughest questions that I have ever had."

    The crowd at McCain's appearance on April 15 was largely students who enthusiastically waved signs and hats that were provided by Hardball.

Michelle Obama Rally

Meghan Morris/The SPOKE

By Meghan Morris and Erin O'Neil
Staff Reporters

HAVERFORD—Michelle Obama, wife of presidential hopeful Barack Obama, spoke to crowds of college students and community members at Haverford College on April 15, one week before the critical Pennsylvania primary.

Michelle Obama, amidst calls that her husband is an "elitist" after he made controversial comments at a fundraiser in San Francisco, stressed their less-than-privileged childhoods and struggle to achieve financial security. Michelle Obama also assailed the No Child Left Behind Act, saying it is "strangling the life out of the education system."

As her speech came to a close, she reminded the crowd why she feels Barack Obama is different.
"There's something special about Barack," she said. "If we are going to thrive and change this nation, we need a whole lot of inspiration."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Teens phone bank for Obama

Jonathan Yu/The SPOKE

By Sanjana Bijlani

Staff Reporter

ARDMORE—Many teens are always hooked on their cell phones, but instead of gossiping with friends this group of teens clicked open their phones in the name of presidential politics.

Fueled with pizza and the hope of making a change, the twenty-or-so students--many of whom can't vote in the upcoming election--sought to garner support and recruit volunteers for presidential candidate Sen Barack Obama. They met at the candidate's Montgomery County headquarters in Ardmore on the evening of April 3.

"If you can't vote, you have to do something," said Bea Abbot, a sophomore at Lower Merion High School. Most of these teens seemed excited and believed that they were making a change.

Some came to show their support for a change that they believe they haven't seen for the past eight years. When talking about why she came out to support Obama, Friends' Central High School senior Isabe Friedman said it was the first time she hadn't seen politics as "just a sterile machine." Lower Merion junior Emma Saltzberg believes that "electing Obama will send a message to the world that we're willing to cooperate with the international community and not just pursue our unilateral goals."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Obama visits Strath Haven High School

Henry Rome/The SPOKE

By Seth Zweifler
News Copy Editor

WALLINGFORD—It all started as a rumor. The word in the halls was that Sen. Barack Obama, a leading candidate to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee and possibly the next President of the United States, would be speaking to students, faculty and community members at Strath Haven High School.

For once, this was a rumor that proved to be true. Obama held a town hall meeting in the Strath Haven gymnasium on April 2, speaking to a group comprised heavily of high school juniors and seniors.

After a brief policy speech, Obama answered questions ranging from topics about AIDS research to the war in Iraq, but made news at the very end of the meeting by saying that he would consider former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore for a cabinet level position if he were elected to the White House.

"I would," Obama said. "Not only will I, but I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He's somebody I talk to on a regular basis. I'm already consulting with him in terms of these issues, but climate change is real. It is something we have to deal with now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now."

According to Strath Haven senior Sam Hargrove, Obama’s visit, which marked the culmination of a six-day Pennsylvania bus tour, showed the increase in attention this primary has garnered, especially from those who are young, first time voters.

“I think there’s been a major shift in the political climate here. [...] People are definitely starting to pay attention more, because this is the first time many of us will actually have a say in the future of our country.”

“I’m amazed by how my students, especially those who can vote, are getting involved this year,” said Strath Haven politics teacher David Waldman. “It’s really something I don’t ever remember seeing. There was a time when young people didn’t think that politics had an impact on them, but now it seems [that time] has come and gone.”

Monday, March 31, 2008

Obama visits Muhlenberg College

Henry Rome/The SPOKE

By Seth Zweifler
News Copy Editor

ALLENTOWN—The Muhlenberg College Memorial Hall gymnasium was packed to the brim on March 31, as presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama made his first stop in the Lehigh Valley during this campaign cycle. Obama’s visit drew more than 3,500 college students, community members, activists and college faculty to Allentown for the Monday night rally. The stop, which was part of a six-day bus tour across Pennsylvania, marked the first time a presidential candidate had visited the campus since Richard Nixon did in 1968.

Obama’s visit to Muhlenberg represented the value that his campaign has placed on soliciting the youth vote, one that hasn’t proven to be of the most importance in past primaries.

“I think he’s re-energized the youth vote through his inspiring words and underlying message of change,” said Angela Light, a graduate of Muhlenberg College. “He seems to be able to relate to the next generation and has a way of expressing himself like no other candidate has, in my opinion.”

During the rally, Obama stressed how he wants to change the “broken politics of Washington,” a message that has been the backbone of his campaign for the past 15 months.

“I’m not running to fit into the Washington mold – I’m running to break the mold,” he said. “We must change how politics is done in Washington. We have to shake it up.”

The Memorial Hall gymnasium was described as being a “mob scene” by Allentown resident Marc Jacobs. Although those in attendance were instructed not to bring signs to display, many found ways to maintain a high level of excitement, as chants of “Yes we can!” and “We want change!” could be heard above all other chatter as the night progressed.

“This is history we’re witnessing right here,” Jacobs said. “It’s hands down the most important primary Pennsylvania has ever had, and I hope that everybody here realizes that.”

Hillary Clinton at Keystone Industrial Port Complex

Jonathan Yu/The SPOKE

By Alice Zhang

FAIRLESS HILLS—As “Eye of the Tiger” pumped through the Keystone Industrial Port Complex, Hillary Clinton strode onto the cement ground, surrounded by American flags, oversized load trucks, and labor union members. Clinton visited Fairless Hills on March 31 as part of her three-day “Solutions for Pennsylvania Economy” tour.

Clinton stressed her plan for economic reform, such as giving tax breaks to the middle class and taking away subsidies from special interest groups. Citing the industrial plant around her, she emphasized expanding factories to cause a ripple effect in the economy. The Keystone Industrial Plant was originally the economic center of Fairless Hill and an old U.S. Steel plant that had went out of business. Currently it is a wind-turbine manufacturing facility.

“Pennsylvania has gone through rough times,” Clinton said. “I believe we can turn this economy around.”

Many labor unions attended the event, from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades to National Association of Letter Carriers. Mark Musho, a member of a manufacturing labor union from Fallsington, Pa., attended the event to see what Clinton had to say about manufacturing, trade and job loss.

“Right now I’m undecided. I want to see what [Clinton] has to say about manufacturing, trade, and job loss,” Musho said.

Clinton’s visit to Fairless Hills also attracted Hillary supporters, young and old, from around the area. More than 1,000 supporters gathered in the industrial complex.

“Clinton does generate a lot of excitement,” said Dot McDonald of Willow Grove, Pa. “Last time there was a lot of excitement was in 1960 with John Kennedy. Since then, I have not seen so much excitement.”

While the main focus of the event was on the Pennsylvania Economy, Clinton also addressed other aspects, such as health care, college tuition and energy.

“I [expected] the event to mostly gather votes,” said Sohini, a student from Bensalem, Pa. “I believe that Pennsylvania could be a major role and could actually decide the election.”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Power of Obama and Yoga

Jonathan Yu/The SPOKE

By Matthew Schaff and Sanjana Bijlani

Op-Ed Copy Editor and Staff Reporter

THORNTON—“We’ll have fun,” said Charlie Phillips as he invited his fellow Barack Obama supporters to take off their shoes and enter his studio. The “fun” that the proceeding experience brought them reflects a new medium through which Greater Philadelphians are expressing their political enthusiasm—the medium of music and rhythm.

Phillips, a yoga instructor and singer-songwriter, hosted a pro-Obama event at his privately owned yoga studio in Thornton, PA on Mar. 30. Inside the sun-lit instructing room at “Charlie’s Yoga and Massage Studio,” Phillips led the participants in a video-taped group sing-along. They sang three run-throughs of “We Believe,” a song written specifically for the event by Phillips. It includes parts for a soloist, guitar, and chorus.

“I just thought it’d be a good idea to have a rally of sorts,” said Phillips. “I wanted to create a song that people could [sing] along to it, but with enough meat behind it.”

Even though he stressed his “studio as a center for self-realization,” and that it “does not want to cause controversy,” Phillips was not subtle in his expressing his personal political views. “I’m a progressive. I certainly don’t espouse the tenets of Republicans. We have to move forward.”

Phillips is an enthusiastic Obama supporter. He refers to US Sen Barack Obama as being “someone with a vision and extreme intelligence. He offers a new brand of politics.” Phillips does not regard US Sen Hillary Clinton in the same positive light. “I like Hillary’s policies, but
she would create polarization. People either love her or hate her. I don’t think we [should] have four more years of this kind of government, or gridlock,” he said.

Attendees of Phillips’s sing-along had their own viewpoints about the junior senator from Illinois.

“I was impressed with Obama ever since the last convention,” said Kathy Richard, a member of the Thornbury Township Democratic Party.

“He’s awesome,” said Elisa Cawley, a junior at Unionville High School. “Obama is a real person. I think he really cares about the American people. He is a very unifying force.”

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Women gather in support of Obama

Alice Zhang/The SPOKE

By Anika Mehta

Features Editor

NORRISTOWN—Four women stood with their eyes transfixed to the screen of the iMac, intently watching Will.I.Am's popular new interpretation of Barack Obama's recent race relations speech, a few quietly singing "Yes. I can" under their breaths.

On March 29, Norristown resident Virginia Fitzpatrick hosted an open house at her home called "Women for Obama" for women who support Barack Obama in the upcoming primary elections. The open house was reserved for only women in the community, who came together to voice their opinions on Sen Obama and the current political arena.

As more women came into the home, the topics of conversation started off with how much Pennsylvania matters in this primary and how someone should vote for who they think is the best person, regardless of their party. Most of the women present were registered Republicans who were very concerned with the amount of mudslinging that was taking place between Senators Clinton and Obama.

"You don't want people to stay home for such an important election. You want them voting for the party's candidate, whoever that is. But [the mudslinging] has gone so far," Virginia Cracium said.

The women then switched focus to more pressing issues. They discussed the many different crises that the country is facing: violence in Iraq, the economy and the mortgage crisis, as well as past administration corruption, which they called "Bush's flawed philosophy," and how that should be changed.

"With the new economic crises, with the return of violence in Iraq, and the mortgage problems, it's really a good test of how our presidential candidates react. It was unexpected when they started the campaign that things would get so bad, so it's interesting to see how all three of them respond to this," Fitzpatrick said.
Around 5:00 P.M. the five women sat down and got to business. Their goal was to outline the issues and points that they thought Obama should comment on, in order for him to get the most benefits from the many grassroots organizations.

"Obama has been credited to having a much stronger grassroots, his campaign is better organized. I think that is credited to a lot of his success and a lot of his fundraising from many, many people giving a small amount of money," Judy McDonald said.
The women, with tea in one hand, and a pen in the other, prepared to help their candidate win the presidency.

Maps, scripts and barking dogs

Henry Rome/The SPOKE

By Henry Rome
Managing Editor

VILLANOVA—It was her first time, and as she approached her first house Nancy Rainey quickly glanced over the script. The house sat at the end of an exclusive cul-de-sac in Villanova. As she approached the house, she was not met with a registered Democrat, but with a large, black lab, barking loudly—the dog was charging, much like the stereotypical mailman hunter of the movies. Rainey backed away cautiously and quickly marked down "inaccessible" on her sheet of potential voters.

Rainey, 62, of Villanova, was among a group of canvassers who were out in force Mar. 29, trying to rally support for presidential contender Barack Obama and attract volunteers to his campaign. Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have canvassed extensively, trying to garner support and volunteers in the pivotal Main Line.

Rainey and a partner canvassed for about two hours that Saturday morning, visiting around a dozen houses and distributing literature, signs and bumper stickers.

The canvassers were given spreadsheets of registered Democrats in the area, along with printouts of maps and directions and scripts for addressing potential voters.

"This is not as easy as it looks," Rainey said, as she shuffled through stacks of voter information and maps, organizing with her partner their plan of attack.

Rainey decided to volunteer because she said she likes Obama's stance on issues--such as healthcare--and feels he can turn Washington in a new direction.

Rainey's beat this morning involved many of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Villanova, and more often than not she was met with locked gates than residents.

But, overall, Lower Merion Canvas Coordinator Art Matusow said that this morning's canvassing yielded "terrific results." Matusow said the Obama Main Line Office has volunteers canvassing almost every day.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Kate Walsh speaks at Bryn Mawr

Sanjana Bijlani/The SPOKE

By Sanjana Bijlani
Staff Reporter

BRYN MAWR—After announcing that she was running on coffee and granola bars, actress Kate Walsh delivered a witty dialogue detailing her support of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid. Walsh, TV's feisty Dr. Addison Montgomery, attracted a largely young crowd, a sign of the campaign's efforts to reach out to the state's youngest voters.

Walsh was also met with a majority female audience at Bryn Mawr College on March 28, where she touched upon issues such as Planned Parenthood and a woman's right to choose, as well as tax cuts for the rich.

"It's imperative that our next President is a Democrat because a lot of people don't know that John McCain is not for women's choice," said Walsh, emphasizing the real change that she feels Barack Obama would bring.

"Barack Obama is the only choice…every person in this country is of special interest to Barack Obama," Walsh said.

Lauren Faber, a 2007 Bryn Mawr graduate, viewed Barack Obama as being "the transformational candidate of our generation and has the potential to be up there with figures such as Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr…I imagine us in 1968, picking up from there."

Chelsea Clinton speaks at West Chester University

Jonathan Yu/The SPOKE

By Ashley Chiang
Staff Reporter

WEST CHESTER—Chelsea Clinton answered questions from university students and area residents about her mother’s campaign and policies for over an hour at West Chester University on March 28. Question topics included education laws, foreign oil dependency, and the War in Iraq.

Clinton arrived at the Sykes Student Union, where the session was held, shortly after 4:00 p.m. where she was greeted enthusiastically by students and adults alike. Following a welcome speech given by the President of the West Chester University College Democrats, Clinton began taking questions from audience members from a makeshift stage.

“I’m excited to be here with you all to talk about whatever’s on your mind,” Clinton said.

Opening questions focused on future campaign strategies and tactics but question quickly shifted towards key issues such as LGBT issues, public school education, and national debt. Following the last question concerning foreign competition, Clinton remained behind to greet members of the audience before leaving for the opening of the Chester County for Hillary Campaign Office Opening.

“There are a lot of issues that the senator focuses on that affect everyone, including young people, whether it’s health care or the economy,” said senior advisor to the Clinton Campaign Philippe Reines.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Touching base at Obama Delaware Co Field HQ

Julie Chen/The SPOKE

By Brendan Viola
Staff Reporter

SPRINGFIELD—On the second floor of Sen Barack Obama's Delaware County Field Headquarters, a closed-door meeting of the utmost importance is getting underway. This meeting is not between Obama's head campaign advisors, not a meeting to discuss a tactic to win the Pennsylvania primary and not a secret conference between Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright discussing race relations. No, this Mar. 27 meeting is between just over a dozen community volunteers in the Springfield area, and is key to the Neighborhood Team Model of Obama's grassroots campaign.

The teams meet once a week to touch base, however a great deal of the communication between members coordinating events occurs outside of the meetings. Each neighborhood team is composed entirely of volunteers, and each team is appointed a field organizer that manages multiple teams and coordinates larger-scale events. Volunteers are assigned such tasks as canvassing neighborhoods and phone banking, which is designed to target undecided voters and explain Obama's strongpoints.

The teams at the Delaware County Headquarters just finished a successful campaign for voter registration, and nearly all counties exceeded expectations in getting voters to register Democratic, according to the Delaware County Regional Field Director Betsy Hoover.

The Spoke had an opportunity to talk with Hoover.

The Spoke: Why did you first choose to get involved with the Obama campaign?
Hoover: Well, I am very passionate about the candidate; I feel we have an awesome candidate on our hands that fires people up in a way that I haven't seen before. I also love seeing all of the new people that Obama is bringing into the process.
The Spoke: What's the most important thing that makes Obama's campaign stand out from those of the other candidates?
Hoover: Obama's organizing model. He's really focused on grassroots organizing, and that was a draw for me because my background is in community organizing.
The Spoke: How do you feel Obama's strategy has changed leading up to the primaries, considering his lead over Hillary Clinton and the effect that a victory in Pennsylvania could have on the race?
Hoover: One of the greatest things about Obama is how consistent he's been, in the high and low times—he's well-organized, neighborhood based, very grassroots, very on the ground. I anticipate his strategy will remain the same going forward, and hopefully we'll continue our surge in confidence as we finish up.
The Spoke: How do you feel the bashing of the Hillary campaign and personal attacks on Obama?
Hoover: I think that negative campaigning is something that we've tried to avoid—I don't think it's helpful in any way that our opponent has been more negative at times. I also think that Barack has handled the opposition with great grace, and it could've been much more detrimental than it has been.
The Spoke: Do you feel that the criticism by Obama's Democratic opponents have lowered his chances of victory in the general election?
Hoover: No, I actually think they have increased. We recently held our voter registration drive at this location, and the amount of people that have traditionally voted Republican who switched over to support Obama is amazing; he's definitely got bipartisan appeal, and that's what's important going into November.

Bill Clinton rallies at Pottstown

Elizabeth Hedges/The SPOKE

By Erika Fernandez
Staff Reporter

POTTSTOWNA line that stretched two city blocks had already formed, filled with people waiting to see former president Bill Clinton. Inside, the crowd started chanting "We Want Bill."
Clinton, accompanied by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Congressman Joe Hoeffel, campaigned on behalf of his wife in front of a receptive crowd at the Pottstown Senior High School gymnasium March 27.

Clinton rallied the crowds by talking about his wife's plan for the economy and foreign policy. Part of Clinton's speech targeted the parents and students in attendance at the event--he concluded the rally by talking about problems currently facing the student, including student loans and the high cost of higher education. After ending his speech, Clinton, Rendell, and Hoeffel shook hands, signed books, and talked to those lucky few that were in the front.

After exiting the building, people waited for Clinton's motorcade in the rain in one last attempt to see the former president.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Clinton delivers major policy speech at UPenn

Jonathan Yu/The SPOKE


PHILADELPHIA—Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech in Philadelphia today on the state of the American economy and announced a four-point plan to stem the tide of home foreclosures, which has been a key driver in the weakening economy. Her plan includes new action to help at-risk homeowners restructure their mortgages, the creation of a working group that would investigate ways to broadly restructure at-risk mortgages and report its findings in the next three weeks, an easing in legal liability for mortgage servicers to help unfreeze the mortgage market, and an additional $30 billion in stimulus to help states and localities fight foreclosures in their communities.

“Over the past week, we’ve seen unprecedented action to maintain confidence in our credit markets and head off a crisis for Wall Street Banks. It’s now time for equally aggressive action to help families avoid foreclosure and keep communities across this country from spiraling into recession,” said Clinton. “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.”

The plan she announced today builds on her previous proposals to address the housing crisis including, cracking down on unscrupulous mortgages lenders, establishing a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures, and freezing interest rates for five years on subprime mortgages.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama delivers speech on race in America

Jonathan Yu/The SPOKE

By Seth Zweifler
News Copy Editor

PHILADELPHIA – Sen. Barack Obama delivered what many analysts have deemed as the most important speech of his campaign at the National Constitution Center on March 18. Obama used the speech as an opportunity to address recent issues raised from the controversy surrounding his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and to tell the American people that they would have to find a way to get past their issues with race relations in order to make create a real change. A full transcript of the speech as prepared for delivery can be found by visiting http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hisownwords/. Excerpts are given be seen below.

“A More Perfect Union” (speech excerpts only)
Barack Obama

“I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”

“This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own. 

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.”

“The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.”

“For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. 

We can do that. 

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

Excerpts from interview with political analyst

The Spoke’s news copy editor Seth Zweifler spoke with Harrisburg-based political analyst David La Torre on issues surrounding the Democratic candidates and the Pennsylvania primary. La Torre, a noted Pennsylvania political analyst and public affairs consultant, served under former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and was the Press Secretary for former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker. Below are excerpts from the interview.

Seth Zweifler - In your opinion, what importance is the state of Pennsylvania going to have in the upcoming Democratic primary?

David La Torre - This primary means everything for Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton loses, she’s done. If she wins, there’s a good chance she can take the nomination. [...] Typically, Pennsylvania has been a forgone conclusion. Now all Pennsylvania voters really have an opportunity to select the eventual nominee.

SZ - So, based on your view that Pennsylvania is going to be a major determinant for this upcoming primary, how do you feel that political awareness has been raised throughout the state, if you feel that way at all?

DLT - I don’t think there’s any question [that] more people are paying attention this year. A lot of Pennsylvanians are catching the presidential campaign fever now, and it’s something that is very apparent.

SZ - And this is something that you’ve really never seen before in the state of Pennsylvania?

DLT - Well, we’ve seen a lot of interest in presidential campaigns before. [...] Make no mistake, Pennsylvania is a big prize, given the size of the state, number of electoral votes and its geographical position. One could argue if you win Pennsylvania you’re also going to win New Jersey and Ohio. The fact that Hillary Clinton has already won New Jersey and Ohio [...] helps give her a compelling argument to Democratic superdelegates as to why she deserves the nomination.

SZ - So, since we’ve established that there is an increased participation and political awareness among the general masses, how do you think the candidates have responded to this?

DLT - With increased campaigning. You’re going to find them all over Pennsylvania for the next several weeks. It’s going to be unlike anything anybody has ever seen. Pennsylvania is certainly the biggest prize to date in the Democratic primary, and both candidates will do whatever it takes to nail down a victory.

SZ - From what you know, has any one candidate been putting more attention forth toward gaining the state of Pennsylvania?

DLT - It’s both equal. They’re both here. You can’t weigh one’s presence. Like I said, when a state means everything in a primary both candidates are going to be here and spend millions of dollars getting their message out.

SZ - It seems that the general trend in past elections has placed younger voters in a much less important role than their percent makeup in the population shows. In this election, however, it seems that from my point of view young people are really starting to get interested, no matter if they are over or under 18.

DLT - I absolutely agree with you. I think young voters are a big reason why Barack Obama has enjoyed the success he’s had. He [Obama] really connects with the younger generation, [...] and these are voters that could end up helping him carry Pennsylvania, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton has a comfortable lead in most polls. It will be interesting to see if young voters still have that same vigor if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.

SZ - From what you’ve seen recently, have the candidates, specifically Barack Obama, altered their campaign in any way to appeal to this younger generation of voters?

DLT - Most people will tell you that Barack Obama has gone to places that younger voters connect with. You have to look at his overall message of change, when the current president’s approval ratings are as low as they are, that tells you that America is ready for or wants new change or leadership. Barack is a fresh face with a tremendous message that appeals to people who have grown tired of the Bush administration.

SZ - Do you have any prediction as to what the result will be for the upcoming Democratic Primary and then the general election?

DLT - I think Hillary Clinton will win in Pennsylvania. I think Hillary Clinton will then secure the Democratic nomination, and I think John McCain will be the next president.

SZ - Do you feel that John McCain simply has the most appeal to the American people, or is there any other reasoning behind your prediction for our next president?

DLT - I think he [McCain] will be the next president because [...] many of the young people and people who have not been involved in politics in the past but support Barack Obama will lose interest, and it remains to be seen whether they will go to the booth in November to vote for Hillary Clinton. At the end of the day, that, combined with other things, should mean a presidential victory for John McCain.

SZ - So you strongly believe that this primary and this election is in the hands of the young voters?

DLT - In many ways it’s in the hands of young people who are attracted to Barack Obama’s message and people who typically sit on the political sidelines, but have been inspired by his message. If Barack Obama doesn’t win the nomination, and those people feel slighted, it clearly works to John McCain’s advantage.

SZ - I know that in the past most statewide primaries have been determined mainly by popular vote. This year, however, many of us are being exposed to the concept of the superdelegates, one that is certainly a new focus in the political spectrum. What role do you see these superdelegates having in the upcoming primary?

DLT - Clearly, if neither candidate has enough conventional delegates to secure the nomination, the superdelegates are going to mean everything, and it’s looking like it’s headed that way.