Obama Speaks In Des Moines

This story was written by Kyle Ferguson, Iowa State Daily

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., came back to where his journey to the White House started on Tuesday to speak about the state of his campaign.

"With the help of people that have stood up for change, we come back to Iowa with the majority of the delegates," Obama said. "We are within reach of the Democratic nomination."

Around 10,000 people gathered at the intersection of Locust Street and Sixth Street in Des Moines to hear the charismatic senator. Lines wrapped around the block more than three hours before the event, while street peddlers sold Obama T-shirts and buttons. Shortly before the senator's appearance, the crowd began shouting his name and campaign slogans.

While Obama was flying in from Chicago, the throng of attendees was entertained by a band of local high school teachers from Hoover High School in Des Moines. The band played several classic tunes from the 1970s, such as Rick James' "Super Freak," Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music."

Obama took time in his speech to mention his admiration for the campaign that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has run.

"Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers," Obama said. "She has changed the America that my daughters will grow up in. In her 35 years of public service, she has never given up the fight for the people and I congratulate her on her win in Kentucky."

Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination took off after he captured first place in the Iowa caucuses in January. Since then, his campaign has encountered entrenched resistance from Sen. Clinton and troubles from his relationship with Pastor Jeremiah Wright, yet Obama has continued to build a steady lead over Clinton in delegates.

"It was 15 months ago, in the depths of winter, that in this state we took the first steps on a journey to change America," Obama said.

After the Kentucky and Oregon primaries, the only remaining preliminary contests are in Puerto Rico on June 1 and Montana and South Dakota on June 3. Although Clinton won the contest in Kentucky by a two-to-one ratio, many question whether the late win will help her campaign that is widely seen as stagnant. Obama commented on the nature of this nomination race.

"Some may see the millions of votes for each of us as evidence that the party is divided," he said. "I see it as proof that we have never been more energized and united. More than anything, we will need that energy and unity in months to come."

Bill Nellans, of Des Moines, said that is precisely why he supports the Illinois senator.

"There's been so much division, the U.S. has really become isolated," he said. "The way he talks, it seems that he can help bring the world together."

Obama's speech focused on the theme that this election was different from those in the past because the people of America are ready for change, and willing to see it happen.

"The other side knows they have embraced yesterday's policies, and they also have embraced yesterday's tactics," he said. "They can take the low road, but that will not lead the country to a better place. That will not work because you will not let it work, not this time."

Annette Brown, of Des Moines, said that she agrees with Obama's stance on change.

"The changing times, that's what it's all about," she said. "He couldn't say anything better. My daughter is 8 years old, and she would want to be here."