Obama Focuses On Education, McCain

This story was written by Ashley Killough, The Lariat
The waves ripple through the crowd. Thousands cheered and chanted. The funky jazz band jammed on the brightly lit stage, while a podium decorated with a Texas flag stood waiting for the star of the show.

"It's like a Barack concert." Brandon Wilcox of New Braunfels said. Country music blared as the tall Illinois senator gracefully took the stage. The energetic audience went wild.

"Y'all do it big in Texas," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said. "What an unbelievable crowd."

In Sewell Park on the campus of Texas State University, the crowd was spilling over the banks of the San Marcos River.

"This is nuts," Wilcox said.

Obama called the support his campaign is receiving among young people "unprecedented."

Texas State student Chris Marple said he has been an Obama supporter since the Senator entered the race and he waited an hour and a half to hear him speak.

"It really excites me," he said. "(The crowd) is pretty impressive."

Like people shouting amen at church, Obama's message of "We cannot wait" was answered with a host of "no"s.

Education was a prime topic for his audience of mostly college students. The idea of a $4,000 tuition credit for every student struck a cord with the crowd.

Obama's plan calls for students who receive the credit to put in time in community service.

"We will invest in you. You invest in America. Together we are going to move this country forward," Obama said.

Other education plans include raising teacher salaries, emphasizing early childhood education and improving public schools.

His universal health care plan drew a big applause from the crowd when he said young people out of college will be able to stay on their parents insurance until they reach 25 years of age.

Obama said the health care problem is one more thing America can't put off.

"We're not going to wait 10 years or 20 years. We're going to restore this by the end of my first term," Obama said.

Following the national trend, the economy was another strong focus of his speech. He spoke about taking on corporate greed, increasing minimum wage to keep pace with hyper-inflation and rolling back Bush's tax cuts.

"If you work in this country, you should not be poor," Obama said.

While Obama covered a variety of hot topics, the crowd was most responsive to his anti-Bush rhetoric. He criticized the Bush administration for "politics of fear," as well as its policies on a number of issues.

Obama highlighted his concern for the situation in Darfur, saying "We will lead in bringing an end to genocide in Darfur. We're not a nation that turns a blind eye to slaughter."

In Tuesday night's Democratic debate, Obama responded to a hypothetical question by MSNBC moderator Tim Russert, who asked if Obama would be willing to strike al-Qaida if it was forming a base in Iraq.

"I will never hesitate to protect the American people," Obama said. In light of these comments McCain lashed out Wednesday morning saying al-Qaida is already in Iraq.

"I have some news for John McCain. (The Republican Party) took their eyes off the ball," Obama said, referencing the U.S.'s neglect of Afghanistan.

Obama said the day for the Republican Party has passed.

"(McCain) is with the party of yesterday. We are creating the party of tomorrow right here in San Marcos, Texas," Obama said.
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