Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., tried to counter former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards’ tour of poverty-stricken areas by announcing Wednesday his own plan to combat urban poverty. In a thinly veiled swipe at Edwards, Obama said: “This kind of poverty is not an issue I just discovered for the purposes of a campaign; it is the cause that led me to a life of public service almost 25 years ago.”
In particular, Obama said he wants to expand New York’s Harlem Children’s Zone program to more than 20 American cities. He also wants to crack down on absent fathers, create new jobs programs, spur economic investment in inner-city neighborhoods and increase affordable housing.
The senator also weighed in on the Iraq debate this week. He spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, shortly before voting for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He also released a statement on the National Intelligence Estimate in which he lambasted the Bush administration for “waging a misguided war in Iraq that should never have been authorized, and failing to seize the opportunity to do lasting harm to the extremist networks that pose a direct threat to our homeland.”
Obama also “attended a Planned Parenthood event with several other Democratic candidates on July 17, where he said that educating kindergartners about sex was “the right thing to do.” He qualified his comments, saying that the sex education must be “age appropriate.”
Obama picked up the endorsement of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty on Tuesday. In a press appearance, the mayor said he chose Obama because “he is deeply committed to Washington, D.C., and to big cities and urban issues across the country.” The senator is also a supporter of full voting rights for the district.
The analysis of Obama’s formidable second quarter fund raising continued this week with an article in the New York Times that found that the campaign was counting people who bought Obama merchandise such as T-shirts and key chains as individual donors.
And it looks like the campaign will continue to tap wealthy donors for cash, with Oprah Winfrey announcing she would host a $2,300-per-person fund raiser for the senator in September at her home in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All of Obama’s money, however, did not save him from making what Politico.com’s Roger Simon called a “cataclysmic mistake.” On a recent trip to Iowa, the senator mistakenly encouraged the crowd to grow their own fuel “right here in Illinois.”
With a busy travel schedule, Obama now faces an even more daunting challenge: finding time between campaign stops to buy the final Harry Potter book. Obama’s wife Michelle told the Associated Press that her husband is the “Harry Potter parent” and that he and his 9-year-old daughter Malia have read all of the books.
Finally, “Obama girl” is back … and this time, she’s taking on “Rudy Giuliani girl.” The two have posted a new video on YouTube.
Obama girl was an Internet sensation in June with her music video “I’ve got a crush on Obama.” The clips of both videos have been played by several mainstream media outlets, including CNN and MSNBC.
Looking ahead, Obama is in New Hampshire on Thursday and then plans to make several campaign stops in Iowa over the weekend. On Sunday, he is scheduled to appear at the National Council of La Raza conference in Miami Beach, Fla. and Monday he will participate in the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is slated to open the Obama for America Chicago volunteer office on Friday.