Obama

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama speaks to a large crowd at Ashford University on Wednesday.

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CLINTON — Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama made a major announcement right here in Clinton on Wednesday.

Obama came to Ashford University to outline his ideas for ending the war in Iraq. Obama's plan includes immediately beginning to remove American troops from the region.

“There is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was,” Obama said to a standing-room-only crowd in Ashford's Durgin Center. “The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year, but now.”

Obama added the stated purpose of the recent surge of troops sent to Iraq was to aid that country's leaders in reconciliation, but noted those leaders have only fallen deeper into their centuries-old sectarian conflicts.

Obama's four-step plan would include a new constitutional convention in Iraq, which would not adjourn until that country's leaders reach reconciliation, and a surge of U.S. diplomacy to the region.

Obama would then work on confronting the humanitarian disaster in Iraq.

“It's time to form an international working group with the countries in the region, our European and Asian friends, and the United Nations,” Obama declared. “We can and must do more to expand access to social services for refugees in neighboring countries, and to ensure that Iraqis displaced inside their own country can find safe haven.”

Obama reiterated the fact that he was against the war from the beginning.

He also worked to set himself apart from President George Bush, claiming if he was elected, he would be more responsive to the public.

“I will be a President who listens to the American people, not a President who ignores the American people,” Obama stated. “It's time to move beyond Iraq so that we can move forward together.”

Four months before the Iowa caucus, many attending the event were not surprised Obama made such a major announcement in the Gateway area.

“Clinton is right on the border with Illinois, and if he's going to sway anybody, it's here. He's got Illinois for sure, but Iowa is iffy, it's out there,” said Linda Santos, a freshman at Ashford majoring in social science with a concentration in psychology. “Iowa does have a lot of political power, so I'm not really surprised, but I'm excited.”

Another Ashford student felt Obama's visit was an inspiration for herself and her classmates.

“We have a lot of students here in for criminal justice and social science, so that helps us a lot,” said Cheri Edwards, a freshman studying criminal justice with a minor in psychology who plans to go into politics. “The fact that he came to this school shows that he's not only reaching out to the bigger communities, but he's also coming to the smaller communities, because that's where it starts.”

Ruth Lewis and her husband, Greg, of Lockport, N.Y., were vacationing in Colorado and made a special stop in Clinton on their trip home so they could hear Obama's ideas.

“I hope for some plan to end this war. It just gets more terrible and more terrible every day,” Lewis said. “I just think we're totally in a quagmire and need to get out of it.”

Lewis, whose state senator is Hillary Clinton, plans to support Obama in his run for the presidency.

“I like Hillary and she's my senator, coming from New York, but I just think that she's got too much baggage, and it will split the country,” Lewis said. “She's been a good senator for New York, and she should stay being a good senator from New York.”

Clinton Mayor LaMetta Wynn feels Obama's appearance says a lot about the Clinton community.

“To have the people that are seeking this high an office to come to Clinton, and they are concerned about us listening to them and hearing what their thoughts are, as well as them listening to us,” Wynn said. “I think we're very privileged to have these people come to Clinton.”

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