This story was written by Colleen Donnelly, Daily Forty-Niner
Preceded by celebrity guests and two musical performances, presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama addressed hundreds of his Southern California supporters Monday night at the Gibson Amphitheatre.
Obama opened by talking about the diversity of the people who support his campaign. He said he had support from people from "all walks of life."
"You name it, we got it," Obama said.
Obama also told his supporters why this election would be different from previous years.
"George Bush will not be on the ballot," he said to a cheering audience. "The name of my cousin, Dick Cheney, will not be on the ballot."
Obama was recently revealed by genealogists to be distantly related to Cheney.
"It's embarrassing being related to Dick Cheney," he said. "It will hurt your self-esteem."
After making the audience laugh, Obama took a more serious tone. He asked, "What is next for America?" A few audience members shouted back "Barack Obama!"
Obama then asked people to take a minute and think about their beliefs, but "not just what you're against. That's easy," he said. "What are we for?"
Obama outlined his campaign platform, first by saying how it was "not efficient to run the same old textbook Washington campaign." Obama said his aim is to bring the nation together for a common purpose, and hopefully "yank America into a brighter future."
Two hot issues Obama addressed in his speech were a universal health care plan and more affordable college tuitions.
If elected, Obama promised to have universal health care by the end of his first presidential term.
Speaking to a crowd with a large student population, Obama also promised to make higher education more affordable so that anyone who wants to go to a four-year college can.
The senator also drove home his dedication to homeland security.
"As commander in chief, I will do whatever is necessary to keep you safe," he said. Obama also said he would end the war in Iraq, bring the troops home within 16 months and focus America's military efforts in Afghanistan but also emphasized the need for stronger American diplomacy. "It's not just our military that makes us a great nation," he said.
Obama was also concerned with how the United States is viewed by the rest of the world. He said he was ready for the country to be a world leader again and that it was his desire to stand before the U.N. and say, "America is back. We are ready to lead again."
To accomplish this, Obama proposed the ideas of building schools around the world, fighting HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, putting an end to the genocide in Darfur and closing Guantanamo Bay.
His goals also included reuniting American political divisions.
"I don't want to pit red America against blue America," he said, adding with emphasis: "I want to be president of the United States of America."
To keep a lighter mood, Obama mocked his Republican opponents and brushed off recent accusations of past drug habits, saying they were probably rifling through his kindergarten papers at that very moment, looking for dirt. He admitted to some bad behavior.
"I experimented with coloring outside the lines," Obama said. "I pulled on a girl's ponytail once, and liked it."
After the brief levity, Obama got back to business, talking about the changing face of American politics. According to Obama, the nation's politics have become "politics of fear." Instead, Obama would like to see "politics of hope."
Obama said that because of the fear the current administration has instilled in the citizens of the United States, they have turned their bcks on the government and each other, not trusting anyone. He said his goal was to have "people stop fearing each other."
Obama wasn't the only one trying to motivate people Monday night. Actors Kal Penn (Kumar in "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle") and James Whitmore (Brooks Hatlen in "The Shawshank Redemption") told the audience why they were supporting Obama.
Penn said he liked how Obama was trying to reunite the country.
"Everyone seemed so keen to divide us up, red versus blue," Penn said. "Then I met Barack 'Ohh-bama.'"
Penn also commented on how comfortable Obama is with people.
"Senator Obama is the same person in front of 4,000 people as he is in front of a room of four."
Whitmore, 86, said he has lived under a number of great presidents.
"I missed Lincoln by a few years," Whitmore joked. He said he served in the United States Marine Corps under Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and once portrayed Harry Truman. Whitmore said that all these presidents "nourished this country with intelligence."
MTV's "Wild 'N Out" host Nick Cannon also acted as a host for Obama Monday night, introducing the musical guests Ne-Yo and the Goo Goo Dolls.
© 2007 Daily Forty-Niner via U-WIRE