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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Obama speech does Democrats proud

 •  Kerry's wife says he's 'first in the line of fire'
 •  Sister, other viewers here proud of keynote speaker
 •  Island attorney excited about being delegate

Advertiser News Services

BOSTON — Hawai'i-born Barack Obama drew roars of approval from Democrats last night, saying cultural and political divisions exposed in the disputed 2000 presidential election do not have to be permanent.

U.S. Senatorial candidate Barack Obama said John Kerry would provide the change in priorities needed to give every child in America a decent shot at life.

Illinois state senator Barack Obama often drew cheers last night in his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. He stressed a message of unity, saying, "We are one people."

Associated Press

"I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America," said the 42-year-old candidate for a Senate seat from Illinois. The energized crowd — some chanting his name — cheered the convention keynoter and waved blue-and-white Obama signs.

Obama criticized the journalistic shorthand of red states (Republican) and blue states (Democratic).

"We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

Obama said people don't expect government to solve all their problems but sometimes do need help.

"They sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all," Obama said in his keynote address.

He said John Kerry would provide that change at home — and lead America into war abroad only when absolutely necessary.

"When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going," the 1979 graduate of Punahou School said in a jab at President Bush, "and to never — ever — go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world."

The crowd leapt to its feet in cheers.

Obama, an Illinois state senator who easily captured the Democratic Senate nomination in his first bid for statewide office, wove his personal biography into an invocation of the American dream. The son of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas who became an honors graduate of Harvard law school and now is a strong favorite to be elected to the Senate, Obama said that "in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."

Obama's late father was a goat herder in Africa who won a scholarship to study in America. He described his mother's youth in Kansas, raised by a couple who built a good life with educations they obtained through the GI Bill and a home they got with a federal loan.

He noted that his maternal grandparents went to Hawai'i to seek a better life. His parents met at the University of Hawai'i, where both were students.

Obama urged parents to "turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white."

He drew laughter and applause with a reference to himself as "a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too."

The Associated Press, Washington Post and Gannett News Service contributed to this report.