A little blogging from the Obama event here in the Polk Co. Complex (aka the Plex). The event comes on the fifth anniversary of Obama's anti-Iraq war speech in Chicago.
It's a little after 4 o'clock (event slated to start now. I guess Obama comes later) and we're getting a little time-filler "Iowa Caucus Trivia" courtesy of Polk Co. Assessor Jim Maloney as we wait for Obama to arrive... "When are the caucuses?" he asks the crowd. Someone yells "Jan. 14." Maloney quips his response, "to be determined."
A few others take the stage to sing their support for the Illinois senator.
"Are Ya Fired Up!? Ready To Go?!" The crowd responds somewhat in unison "Fired up, Ready to Go!"... "Sen. Obama will be out in several minutes."
Tina Turner's "Simply The Best" is now pumping through the speakers.
Enter Ted Sorenson, former adviser and speechwriter for President John F. Kennedy.
Sorenson says Obama is "the only serious candidate for the democratic nomination for the President of the United States who five years ago was the first and the only presidential candidate to oppose the single worst blunder in the history of American foreign policy: the needless, endless occupation in Iraq."
Sorenson is now reminiscing back to JFK and the Cold War... a time when "Kennedy believed in negotiation."
Sorenson is making connections between JFK and Obama... "we don't even need to go into the fact that there were those who said Kennedy had lost his chance to be President the day he was baptized, like they say Obama lost the day he was born black."
"Those that say Kennedy was too inexperienced, too young."
"The next president of the United States, Barack Obama."
Thank-yous for Sorenson and campaign staffers... Thank-yous to Co-Chairs IA Attny. Gen. Tom Miller and State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. (Both were some of Obama's earliest Iowa endorsers).
Sign-up to volunteer, Obama pitches to the audience.
Obama now getting into the war on Iraq by telling a story about redeployed soldiers.
"Hard truth is the war in Iraq is not about a catalogue of many mistakes it's about one big mistake," says Obama. "The war in Iraq should have never been fought." (Long applause).
Obama discussing his anti-war speech from five years ago today. "Some told me to keep quiet. To wait longer. Going to war was popular."
"I didn't see how Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat."
"Let's be clear: without that vote there would be no war."
"We need to ask those voted for the war, how can you expect to give the President a blank check and not expect him to cash it?"
Obama says "conventional thinking" in Washington needs to be challenged.
"I'm running to change this country."
"Who got it write and who got it wrong?"
"This is not just a matter of debating the past or 'I told ya so.' It's about making a determination who's got the best judgement to make the critical decisions going into the future."
"No matter what we think about George Bush he will be gone in 2009."
"We're not going to unify a divided America by playing conventional politics."
"This election is a turning point... are we going to turn back the clock or are we going to turn the page?"
"I want to be straight with you. If you want someone with conventional Washington thinking, I'm not your man. If you want rigid ideology, I'm not your man. If you think fundamental change can wait, then I am definitely not your man..."
"... but if you want to bring this country together... If you want experience broader than just learning the ways of Washington..."
"I offer a different choice in this race... A different vision for our future. First thing we have to do is end this war and the right person to end it is someone who had the judgement to oppose it from the beginning.' (applause).
"Not military solution in Iraq and there never was." Barack says he will remove troops immediately: 1-2 brigades per month and get all "combat" troops out within 16 months."
Obama says he will leave some troops to "perform limited ordinary missions of protecting our diplomats" and to "carry out targeted strikes on al-Qaida."
"Let there be no doubt, I will end this war."
Obama says we can't win if we "outsource critical missions to unaccountable contractors like we've been reading about over the last several weeks."
"Let there be no mistake. We must always be prepared to use force to protect America."
"All nations friend and foe. It's time to turn the page..."
"Time to offer a message of hope instead of a message of hate."
"To lead... must lead by example."
"When I'm President, I will close Gitmo." (loud cheer).
"The American people are not the problem, they are the answer."
"I will always tell you what I think. I will always tell you were I stand. I will always tell you the truth and it's what I'll do as the President of the U.S. of America."
"Time to unite America."
"I'm not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect President."
"I would not have been here if the torch -- as Tom suggested -- had not been passed by the new generation."