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Obama Addresses Research, Criticizes McCain During N.C. Town Hall

This story was written by Chris Allred, Technician

Local issues were put in focus during presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's visit to the State Fairgrounds Tuesday.

Obama addressed questions regarding scientific research and issues with Raleigh's veteran population, among others, during a one-and-a-half hour town hall meeting.

"There are very few states that have turned themselves more around economically based on education, science and research [than North Carolina]," he said. "That's what the Research Triangle has been all about."

The nation has lost its edge in research, Obama said, and to remain competitive, it must expand its focus on science.

"That idea of discovery and innovation has driven our economy," he said. "If we're going to compete just on manual labor, we can't compete."

Obama also took time to criticize his opponent, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, and President George W. Bush, while trying to link the two.

"Bush and his administration have been anti-science," he said, later citing Bush's denial of global warming.

Obama mocked McCain's stance on offshore drilling.

"We can't drill our way out of this problem," he said. "We just don't have enough oil on the ground to drill our way out of this problem."

He also said McCain has supported Bush "90 percent of the time."

McCain's campaign released an ad two weeks ago featuring clips of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton calling Obama "the biggest celebrity in the world" but Obama said he "doesn't have time for that mess."

"I don't intend to lose this election," he said. "John McCain doesn't know what he's running against right now."

An audience member who said he was a homeless war veteran in Raleigh asked Obama how he would deal with the issue of homelessness.

"If you served this country, you should not be homeless," Obama said, adding that he would have a "zero tolerance" policy regarding veteran homelessness.

Terrence Nelson, a senator in the Virgin Islands whose son, Terrence Nelson, Jr., is a freshman in mechanical engineering, said he came to the event to take part in the "Obama phenomenon."

"His visit to Germany is proof that diplomacy can work," Nelson said.

According to Nelson, an Obama presidency would take away the risk of his son being drafted to go to the war in Iraq.

"I want my son to be able to use a college degree for work in America," he said.

Obama's speech wasn't "fear-based," as Claire Narensky, a Durham resident in attendance, said she would expect of a Republican.

"He seems in touch with the people I know," Narensky said.

Sebastian Leape attends the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and said he was excited to hear Obama speak while visiting friends in Raleigh.

"Obama-mania is ripe in my school," Leape said.

According to Leape, Europeans are especially connecting with this presidential race because "Bush's policies for the first time have affected the UK negatively" with the Iraq war.