Although he currently trails behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in some national polls, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was greeted like a rock star when he arrived to a crowd of over 3,000 spectators at Santa Barbara City College earlier this month.
During his speech in front of SBCC’s Luria Library on Sept. 8, Obama discussed topics such as the war in Iraq, education, healthcare and living wages. His appearance at SBCC is part of a larger campaign tour that recently included a visit to an Oprah Winfrey-sponsored event in Montecito. According to the latest American Research Group national poll, Clinton is currently leading in the Democratic primary by 15 percent.
As he spoke to the crowd of mostly students, Obama said that as president he would make it his mission to end the war in Iraq and create a national healthcare program. However, he also said such changes would demand support from the American people.
“That transformation will require a righteous anger from all of us,” Obama said.
At one moment during his speech, Obama paused and pointed to a woman in the crowd who looked ill. The woman fainted, prompting an immediate response from paramedics to transport her to an ambulance. Obama waited until the woman was cared for before resuming his oratory.
One man from the crowd jokingly shouted, “I hope homeland security always acts this fast,” to which the senator responded, “Under the Obama administration, it will.”
Obama Campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt said he believes the senator’s message resonates with students due to the rising conflicts in Iraq and recent cuts to financial aid.
“The past eight years have been very damaging to students,” LaBolt said. “That’s why we’re seeing a whole new generation of supporters. Like Barack Obama, I think the judgment of most students is that the Iraq war is something that never should’ve been authorized or waged. His plan is to bring the war to a close and talk about a way forward in the region.”
LaBolt said visits such as the one at SBCC center on attracting voters to the Feb. 5 presidential primary elections. Such supporters include Oprah Winfrey, who recently endorsed Obama as her official candidate and held an event in Montecito. She also awarded the senator’s campaign with $3 million.
Obama, a self-proclaimed “hope peddler,” said he will continue to offer idealism in hope of realizing a better America and improving the U.S.’s reputation overseas.
“We are not a nation that turns a blind eye to the slaughter of innocents,” Obama said. “That’s not who we are. We are the best, last hope on Earth. That’s who we are, and that’s who we can be again.”