Sunday, May 4, 2008

Transcript: Barack Obama on Meet The Press 5-4-08

Read the entire transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: The National Journal says that in 26 of the 29 contests you've been involved in you have lost white voters who do not have college degrees. How do you connect with them? What's wrong?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, first of all, I think we got to give Senator Clinton some credit. I mean, she's a pretty formidable candidate, and she possesses the best brand name in Democratic politics. And her and her husband have been campaigning actively. People have fond memories of some of the work that they did in the '90s. And so the fact that she has won some of those contests in some demographic groups shouldn't be surprising. I mean, I'm the underdog. I, I came into this thing with everybody anticipating that we would be blown away. And if I was worrying about polls and, you know, some of this, some of this analysis, I probably wouldn't have gotten into the race in the first place. What's remarkable is how well we've done.

Now, what I do believe is that it is important for the American people to understand my story and how it connects to theirs. I think it's important for people to understand not only that I was raised by a single mom and, and my grandparents, and the values of hard work and decency and honesty that they've passed on to me, that those are values that are rooted in the heartland of America and small-town America. My, my wife, Michelle, you mentioned earlier, you know, when I think about her father, who worked as a shift worker for the city of Chicago, despite having MS, got up every single day and went to work, was able to raise a family and send his two kids to college and, and support a family of four on a single salary. I think about your father and the fact that, that your dad, Tim, looked nothing like Michelle's dad, but they lived that same American dream and, and they had those same core values. And those are the values of millions of people all across the country. And my job in this campaign is to communicate the fact that not only are those values at the core of what this country's about, not only are those values what make me patriotic, but those are the values that have to be fought for because that American dream is slipping away.

Those same individuals who are like Michelle's dad, who are like my grandparents, who are like your dad, they can't make it now doing the same things that they used to do. No matter how hard they work, they're falling behind. No matter how hard they work, they're at risk of losing their home or losing their pension. That's what this campaign's about, and that's what we've been fighting for, and, and that's why, ultimately, I'm confident not only are we going to win this nomination, but I also believe that we're going to win this general election because that is what the American people understand. Unless we are able to create the kinds of opportunities for ordinary Americans that have been slipping away over the last seven years, with wages and incomes actually going down even during an economic expansion, then, you know, we're not going to pass on the kind of America to our children that we want to.

Hillary's Horse Places 2nd Then Put to Sleep

This is sweet irony:

Tragedy struck the first filly in the Kentucky Derby since 1999, as Eight Belles went down on the track after her second-place finish today, broke two ankles, and was euthanized.

Showing a sisterhood with the female horse, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., during a trip to Louisville this week had said she was going to bet on Eight Belles to win, place, and show.

ABC News' Karen Travers reports that Clinton told supporters in Jeffersonville, Ind., earlier this week, "I hope that everybody will go to the derby on Saturday and place just a little money on the filly for me. I won’t be able to be there this year -- my daughter is going to be there and so she has strict instructions to bet on Eight Belles."

Travers also points out that Eight Belles' trainer, Larry Jones, returned the love. "It looks like it could be the year for the girls," he said. "Eight Belles I’m sure would want to endorse."

The horse Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., picked to show -- Big Brown -- won the Derby.

Maybe after Tuesday's primaries Ms. Clinton's campaign should be put to sleep.

Pentagon Wants to Use Mercenaries to Fight in Iraq

Haven't gone through enough scandals involving contractors in Iraq? Now the military wants to make it worse by using private contractors to train the Iraqi military. Why? Because we don't have enough troops to fight the Iraq quagmire. This is an argument for getting out:

U.S. commanders in Iraq are for the first time seeking private contractors to form part of the small military teams that train and live with Iraqi military units across the country, according to a notice for prospective bidders published last week.

The solicitation, issued by the Joint Contracting Command in Baghdad, says the individuals that a contractor recruits -- who would include former members of the U.S. Special Forces and ex-Iraqi army officers -- will be trained in the United States with military transition teams (MiTTs) and shipped as a single team to Iraq. The recruits will live on Iraqi military bases "under Iraqi living conditions and participate with MiTT special operations and convoy duties," the solicitation says.

Thus far, the MiTTs have consisted of specially trained teams of about 10 to 12 U.S. soldiers led by a field-grade officer that were embedded with Iraqi army units from the division level down to the battalion level. The MiTTs have included officers and noncommissioned officers from different service branches tasked with teaching and mentoring their Iraqi counterparts to make them self-sufficient.

Anthony H. Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and now a scholar with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, described the new effort as an understandable step, given the current stresses facing the U.S. military.

"There is a lot of pressure on the active Army, and during this transition period where the military is converting to noncombat roles, a shift to contractors as trainers for the expanding Iraqi military is a natural step." He added, however, that the outcome "depends on the quality of those the contractors recruit."

Michael O'Hanlon, a military specialist at the Brookings Institution, said the need for contractors to support the Iraq transition teams is linked to the shortage of such officers in the U.S. Army at a time when it is also expanding. "There are insufficient field-grade officers in our own service, and we need the captains and majors as we increase our own ground forces," he said.

This newest proposal to outsource what has been a military activity comes as military contracting in Iraq undergoes increased scrutiny from Congress.

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