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Obama: Oregon Ends The Race

This story was written by Robert D'Andrea, Oregon Daily Emerald

International student Dorsaf Naoui is not eligible to vote for the next president of the United States, but that did not stop her from joining roughly 8,000 others who came to see Sen. Barack Obama campaign on the Memorial Quad at the University of Oregonlast Friday.Naoui, who is pursuing a master's degree in linguistics, said electing Obama would boost the United States' standing in the world."It's not just the presidency for me. It's like changing the whole world. I'm really and truly excited. I trust him. He's the one," she said.It was Obama's second trip to the University and his third swing through Oregon. He made stops in Beaverton and Albany before making an unannounced appearance during a track meet at Hayward Field where he shook hands and threw T-shirts into the crowd.At the quad, he addressed a packed crowd from a temporary stage between the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and Prince Lucien Campbell Hall, where a banner reading "Folklorists 4 Change" hung from a window.Men's basketball coach Ernie Kent introduced Obama, whom Kent said he considered challenging to a game of one-on-one before he thought better of it.Obama did not wear a tie while he spoke and appeared relaxed when joking with audience members. The Illinois senator drew few contrasts with his Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton, aside from a few comments about how he doesn't take money from federal lobbyists.Obama has made Clinton's connections to lobbyists a major theme of his campaign. His Web site lists plans for supporting public financing of political campaigns, and he has pledged to create searchable Internet databases of lobbying reports, ethics records and campaign finance filings.Obama spent much of his speech contrasting his views on economics and foreign policy with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.Earlier Friday, many national news organizations reported Obama had tied or surpassed Clinton in support from superdelegates, Democratic party leaders with an automatic vote at the national convention, for the first time since the race began. Six superdelegates announced their support for Obama Friday, some of whom previously supported Clinton. Four more joined him Saturday.Several moments during his Oregon trip pointed to signs that his campaign believes he is the presumptive Democratic nominee. While in Beaverton, he said he would consider alleviating some of the Clinton campaign's debt. Reports last week said Clinton had loaned her campaign more than $11 million."We are going to bring this election to a close right here in Oregon," he said in Eugene.Obama was also introduced by two Oregon superdelegates, Congressmen David Wu and Peter DeFazio, who focused on a general election contest against McCain.Wu, who recently endorsed Obama, said his support came "because I think he is the person who is best suited to turn the page on this sorry episode in American history."Wu said that, like himself and DeFazio, Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning."We have not yet unified as Democrats behind a single candidate," DeFazio said, "but we are unified in purpose." He said that purpose was to "restore America as a beacon of hope in the world" and end war in Iraq.DeFazio said McCain's Straight Talk Express was actually a "Trojan Horse Express.""Inside that shiny exterior are four more years of the failed policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney," DeFazio said.Obama expressed a similar idea: "Now just listen. I want everybody to be clear. Whatever differences I might have with Sen. Clinton, they pale in comparison to the other side." He said McCain "has decided to run for George Bush's third term."One of the loudest reactions from the crowd came when he mentioned the high price of gas and said, "You're riding your bike, aren't you?"Obama has talked about many plans for combating climate change, reducing America's dependence on foreign oil an investing in green technology. He wants to require 25 percent of all electricity consumed in the U.S. to come from solar, wind or geothermal sources by 2025, according to his Web site.He has also pledged to double fuel economy standards by 2026 with tax credits and loan guarantees for American manufacturers.Sophomore Grace Moen said Obama made her "feel proud to be an American again. It was kind of hard to feel proud of your country with Bush in office."For the most part, Obama stuck to his usual stump speech, with pledges to end the war in Iraq, bring ethics to Washington and lower the cost of higher education with the help of a voluntary national service plan.Obama wants to expand the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps and establish a new tax credit worth $4,000 a year for students who perform 100 hours of public service a year."I love his idea about having students do community work so college will be more affordable," junior Misa Belcher said.Some students said they were undecided about whom to vote for in Oregon's May 20 primary. Others, such as freshman Neil Browning, registered as Democrats just for the chance to cast a primary ballot."I think that he's a uniter," Browning said. "He's really charismatic and he brings people together and that's what our country needs right now."The group Students for Barack Obama estimated 7,000 people in Lane County registered as Democrats to vote in the primary.Sophomore Micah Carelli was already a Democrat. She said she supports Obama because he is not a Washington insider."I feel like our country needs to listen to the people instead of big corporations, and I feel like he would do that better than the other candidates," she said.