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Obama blasts Clinton in Denver speech

Nedra Pickler
Associated Press
Vail,CO Colorado
Ed Andrieski/APDemocratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., addresses supporters at the University of Denver, Wednesday.
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DENVER, Colorado ” Democratic White House candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday said rival Hillary Rodham Clinton is too polarizing to win the presidency and she has taken positions shared by President Bush and Republican candidate John McCain for political expediency.

Obama depicted Clinton as a calculating, poll-tested divisive figure who will only inspire greater partisan divisions as she sides with Republicans on issues like trade, the role of lobbyists in politics and national security. At the same time, he elevated McCain, fresh off victory in Florida’s crucial primary, as the likely Republican nominee.

“Democrats will win in November and build a majority in Congress not by nominating a candidate who will unite the other party against us, but by choosing one who can unite this country around a movement for change,” Obama said, speaking as rival John Edwards was pulling out of the race in New Orleans, leaving a Clinton-Obama fight for the Democratic nomination.

“It is time for new leadership that understands the way to win a debate with John McCain or any Republican who is nominated is not by nominating someone who agreed with him on voting for the war in Iraq or who agreed with him in voting to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, who agrees with him in embracing the Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to leaders we don’t like, who actually differed with him by arguing for exceptions for torture before changing positions when the politics of the moment changed,” Obama said.

“We need to offer the American people a clear contrast on national security, and when I am the nominee of the Democratic Party, that is exactly what I will do,” he said.

Obama said it was time for a change and he was the man to provide it.

“I know it is tempting ” after another presidency by a man named George Bush ” to simply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th century,” he said in Denver.

“… It’s not enough to say you’ll be ready from Day One ” you have to be right from Day One,” he added in unmistakable criticisms of Clinton, who often claims she’s better prepared to govern, and her husband, who pledged during his own presidency to build a bridge to the 21st century.

The Clinton campaign said Obama was abandoning his pledge to run a positive campaign by making misleading attacks on her record.

“Senator Obama laments this kind of politics in his book, ‘Audacity of Hope,'” her campaign responded in a Web posting that containing a quote from page 133 of the book: “That is how most of my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, enter the Senate their words distorted, and their motives questioned.”

Obama drew more than 10,000 people to his speech at the University of Denver. They packed a hockey arena and crammed into two overflow rooms and still were lined up outside to get in. Colorado is a caucus state, one of 22 to hold nominating contests Tuesday, and is one of a handful of states where the Obama campaign is predicting victory. Clinton has the advantage in several others, while several are still up for grabs.

Obama said he understands voters might feel some comfort at the idea of returning to another President Clinton after eight years of Bush. But he cautioned voters not to buy the argument that Clinton’s experience is what the country needs.

“It is about the past versus the future,” he said. “And when I am the nominee, the Republicans won’t be able to make this election about the past.

“If you choose change, you will have a nominee who doesn’t just tell people what they want to hear,” Obama told them. “Poll-tested positions, calculated answers might be how Washington confronts challenges, but it’s not how you overcome those challenges; it’s not how you inspire our nation to come together behind a common purpose, and it’s not what America needs right now. You need a candidate who will tell you the truth.”

Later Wednesday, Obama gave a 10-minute talk by live broadcast to a joint meeting in Atlanta of four historically black Baptist denominations, where Clinton was to appear in person later. These groups produced some of the most prominent civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.. whom Obama quoted.

“Pastors are pushing this movement forward,” Obama said of his campaign, “and I need each and every one of you in this fight.”

He asked the audience to imagine what it would mean for the country to see him with his hand on the Bible, taking the presidential oath of office.

“Our children will look at themselves differently and their possibilities differently. They’ll look at each other differently,” he said.


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