warm for Clinton, wild for Obama
Barack Obama of Illinois wowed California Democrats at
their annual convention on Saturday, drawing a more
passionate welcome than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
received hours earlier in this state that carries new
clout in the presidential primaries. More than 2,000
party activists frequently rose to their feet in cheers
as Obama, who has served just two years in the U.S.
Senate, talked about his desire to end the war in Iraq
and usher in a new political era in Washington. “It is
time to put an end to this war,” Obama, of Illinois,
said at the convention center in San Diego shortly
before many started chanting his surname.
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Obama continued from
Obama’s extremely talented, but this is
Hillary’s time,” said Steele, who wore a Clinton sticker
on her lapel. Democrats were making their pitch to a
state that has become key in the primaries since
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month signed
a law moving up its primary to February 2008 from June
to give the state a greater role in the presidential
selection. New York has also moved up it
primary to the same day in February 2008, which could
make it the earliest and biggest test of candidates’
strength. California Democrats gave Clinton a warm if
not overly effusive welcome, with a few shouting out for
an immediate end to the Iraq war. “The first thing I
will do upon taking office is to end the war in Iraq,”
Clinton said. During her speech, a small minority held
signs or called out for the U.S. Congress to cut off
funding for the Iraq conflict, a move that could
undercut President George W. Bush’s plans to continue
military involvement there.
“She is pro-war,” said Patrick Tate, 59, who loudly
booed the New York senator.
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supporters recognized Obama’s speech -- full of
generalities such as the need to “turn the page” -- had
tapped into the crowd’s emotions.
n recent years, California has served as
a vital source of fund-raising, but the national
contest was already decided by the time
the state held its primary. “It was the same thing in 2003 for Howard
Dean,” said Andrea Dew Steele, 38, referring to the
former Vermont governor who made a strong showing early
in the last presidential race largely because of his
opposition to the war. “We have a very progressive
left-wing constituency here in California.
has refused to apologize for her 2002 vote authorizing
the war or call it a mistake. “I am proud that I stood
up in 2002 when it wasn’t popular to take a stand and
urged our leaders not to take us down this dangerous
path,” Obama said, contrasting himself with Clinton and
others. Obama was not in the Senate at the time.Clinton, considered a front-runner in the primary
contest, got cheers with calls for universal health
insurance and support for what she termed the invisible
people of society.