Barack proves naysayers wrong, wife says

Michell Obama spoke of change and hope at
Packard Music Hall.



WARREN — Every step on his run for the presidency, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s met with critics who dismissed him or said his accomplishments were essentially meaningless, his wife, Michelle, said.

And with every step, the Democratic presidential candidate is proving those critics wrong, his wife told an enthusiastic crowd of about 400 at the W.D. Packard Music Hall.

During her nearly one-hour speech Wednesday, Obama spoke of problems facing the country — health care, making a living wage, getting a good education — but spent little time discussing solutions.

Instead, Obama delivered an inspirational populist message of change and hope, similar to the speeches her husband typically gives on the campaign trail.

Obama also addressed what some say is her husband’s lack of experience. She said her husband has a wide range of experience including being a community activist, a constitutional and civil rights lawyer, an Illinois Senate member for eight years, and serving as a U.S. senator since 2005.

“The question isn’t whether Barack Obama is ready to be president,” she said. “Barack will be one of thed most brilliant leaders we’ll see in a long time. He’s ready. He’ll be ready on Day 1, Day 2, Day 20, Day 200.”

Obama told the story of her husband’s presidential campaign, which began about a year ago.

“The initial reaction was there’s no way he could win,” she said. “... There were so many hurdles and obstacles.”

Among them, she said, was that many said there already was an anointed winner before the primaries. Though Obama didn’t say who that was, the implication was U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, the other Democratic presidential candidate. Obama, D-Ill., and Clinton, D-N.Y., will face off Tuesday in Ohio’s Democratic primary.

The next challenge was that Obama was tagged as being unable to raise money and build an organization to be competitive, his wife said. After meeting both goals, the tag was that Obama couldn’t win Iowa, she said.

When he won Iowa, it was national polls that had him trailing Clinton followed by the expectation he wouldn’t do well during the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday Democratic presidential races, she said.

The reason for his success, his wife said, is “folks are hungry for something different. They’re hungry for change.”

Because of that, they’re drawn to him, she said.

“We should be at a point where any child should be able to dream big dreams and imagine any life,” she said.

But that is not the case, she said.

“Regular folks are struggling,” Obama said.

Obama described herself as a regular person.

She grew up in a working-class family and said that after marrying Obama, the two struggled financially to make ends meet.

“The only reason we have money is Barack wrote two best-selling books,” she said. “That wasn’t a financial plan. That was like Jack and his magic beans. Those [books] were magic beans.”

Obama’s visit comes a day after Chelsea Clinton, Clinton’s daughter, spoke to about 150 people at Youngstown State University on behalf of her mother.

The Obama campaign is sending Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy, to Youngstown on Friday. The campaign didn’t provide any details on the location and time of the appearance. Her uncle, U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., campaigned earlier this month for Obama in Youngstown.

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