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Obama's Middle Class Appeal

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By Shailagh Murray
NEWTON, Iowa -- Meet Barack Obama, man of the people.

The Illinois senator is weaving new threads about his life into his stump speech, recalling a time not long ago when he was a member of the beleaguered middle class -- just like so many of the Jan. 3 caucusgoers he's battling Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards to win over.

Speaking before a large, enthusiastic crowd at a local high school gymnasium here, Obama described the ordinary problems, like daycare and housing costs, that he and his wife Michelle confronted as recently as five or six years ago, before he was elected to the U.S. Senate and became a best selling author.

"We were still struggling with all the student loans we had to pay off after law school, because neither of us were rich," he said. "Our parents couldn't provide us with all that education. We had to borrow. We hadn't started a college fund yet for our kids. We hadn't started saving for retirement. We had some credit cards we had to deal with. We were living in a small condo that was getting a little too small for our two kids."

People nodded their heads. "I was doing the grocery shopping," Obama continued. "Michelle shopped at Target. She does still shop at Target. She really loves Target." He quoted his wife telling him, "I think one of the reasons you'd make a good president now is...we're not that far from being normal."

In one of his standard riffs, Obama asserts that his career choices -- community organizer, civil rights lawyer, elected official -- underscores his commitment to public service and to bringing about political and social change. He always mentions the lucrative job offers he turned down, but today he added a new line.

"That's why I didn't become a trial lawyer," Obama told the Newton audience -- a clear dig at Edwards, who made millions in the courtroom.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 30, 2007; 9:58 PM ET
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Dude, those stories are so out of proportion to the truth. Trial lawyers spin truth to make millions and are scumbags. Look at Edwards' career. Hey, I put baby docs out of business in his own state. Nobody talks about that. Medicine is not 100%. A lot of time the gray area in the patient's and/or hospital's fault.

Posted by: HelpMeSue | May 10, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: jqfodmur chqnewigz | April 11, 2008 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Obama should have become a trial lawyer. What's so bad about them? They keep the average American safe from irresponsible people and corporations.

Check out and check out what kind of stuff people have to put up with on a daily basis. You'll be appalled at some of the cases. Appreciate your trial lawyers. Without them, we Americans would have lost their rights years ago.

Posted by: kevin | January 10, 2008 2:05 AM | Report abuse

shailverma71, x429960,

Barack Obama does not encourage favoritism and special interests. Hillary Clinton has special interests from Punjab.
Hillary Clinton is cunning, cold, calculated, divisive etc.

Barack Obama likes INDIA very much as he mentioned several times.


Posted by: jkojs | January 1, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Hi! "jade_7243" Happy New year, did oprah help you with the big words, she did well helping obamboy, well...until his RACISUM started being presented to voters finally...

Posted by: dyck21005 | January 1, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Thankyou people of Iowa for voting for Obama. He is the only one that has the message of bringing people of all gender, race and status together for common good. He is definitely going to be a respected, admired leader of the free world.
Obama supporter...Down Under

Posted by: refreds | January 1, 2008 4:29 AM | Report abuse

How can Obama posture to bring a new face and a new way in the establishment when he brings with him a circle of close advisers and staff from the Clinton administration? Employing "Clinton minds" around him means he embraces the Clinton policies.
He is a plain opportunist seizing only the moment when as an unknown, his blunders are not yet much to be spoken of... seizing only the moment when as a dazzler, his fresh tactics could still work... seizing the moment when the rhetoric of hope would still work.
Obama is running for the presidency now, not because he is called for a vision, but because he is compelled by a favorable condition. His candidacy is not about hope. His hope is about his candidacy.

Posted by: readingbetweenlines | January 1, 2008 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Indian Americans will vote in block enmasse and vote the most qualified woman in America and will vote Hillary.

Barack Hussain Obama is a freshman politician. He needs another 5-10 yrs before he can play his willy wonka tune.

He has absolutely no experience and shoots from hip. He will invite Ahmadinejad to whitehouse and have a tea party with him discussing nuclear issue.

No matter who you vote, Indian desis will vote for Hillary.

Posted by: shailverma71 | December 31, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Indian Americans will not VOTE FOR BARACK HUSSAIN OBAMA. He lost our vote (2 million nearly) when he called Sen.Clinton as D-Punjab.
Posted by: shailverma71 | December 31, 2007 10:01 AM

It was unfortunate that that story got framed as a racial slur against Indians in general. But there's more to the story. Hillary was introduced as a senator from Punjab at a fundraiser given by an Indian-American donor.

This is how the reference came to be via a story in the IndiaAbroad:

"At the fundraiser hosted by Dr Rajwant Singh at his Potomac, Maryland, home, and which raised nearly $50,000 for her re-election campaign, Clinton began by joking that, 'I can certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily,' after being introduced by Singh as the Senator not only from New York but also Punjab." [India Abroad, 3/17/06]

Hillary made sure that the context of the (D)-Punjab was not included in getting the word out. Very Swiftboatish methinks

Posted by: x429960 | December 31, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse


Go back and read the speeches given by the candidates on whether to authorize Bush to go to war in Iraq.

Obama's thinking was so far superior to Clinton or Edwards. Obama saw what was happening so clearly.

Obama, Oct.,2002:
"That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."

And this:
"But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history."

And this:
"You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe."

Read the whole speech:'s_Iraq_Speech

Posted by: judeca | December 31, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

You sound just like the republicans hiding in the boondocks judging everyone but themselves.Then again, you could be an HRC or JE supporter.Do you realize that telling a woman what to do with her pregnancy is sexist.Only women should be the ultimate ones to make choices about abortions.I find it interesting that the people most opposed to abortion are republican males.I guess the bible says they should control every aspect of a woman's life just as it told them slavery was a great idea.If you're a HRC or JE zombie, do you know half the country is already dead set on not voting for Hillary? In addition, all the baggage from the 90s will come back to hunt the stupid dems who helped nominate her.Then, they'll complain like you know what after defeat.JE is a phony just like Romney. He's a hedge fund pirate and reeks of recently manufactured populism. The people in Iowa should know that already. Then again, who thought they were going to give Kerry the nod?The democratic party needs to start being bold in its choices and stop nominating all those lame, uninspiring losers.That fake populist nonsense is not going to work in the GE.Reason: there's nothing in Edwards' background that points to his being a crusader against poverty. You can see how caricature that phony is going to be once the GE is on the way.He's a phony.

Posted by: ednyo2000 | December 31, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Democrats need to step back and look at the big picture.

Hillary will unite and inspire Republican voters and lose the national election. Her credentials and experience (good or bad) are irrelevant. She can't win the Big One.

Edwards, Obama, Richardson -- doesn't matter who -- will beat any Republican so long as they keep middle class families and the economy as the front and center issues.

And that includes the war, immigration, health care and the environment, so long as those issues are framed from a middle-class, economic perspective.

And that's what Iowa and New Hampshire voters should be charged with -- the task of best figuring out which non-Hillary Democrat can best "deliver the groceries" in November and get this country (and our world) out of trouble, and keep us out of trouble going forward.

Posted by: sw7104 | December 31, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

If Edwards wins Iowa, Clinton and Obama will both "TANK" in New Hampshire, and Edwards will win NH and then Nevada, and SC will rally back around the "hometown boy" (John Edwards).

Over the course of these primaries, Edwards will have raised around $15 million in a few weeks, and will have more than enough money for the long haul, limitations or not.

Posted by: framecop | December 31, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: ensure365 | December 31, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

dyck21005, please tell HIllary to give you another task. You're failing miserably with this one.

shailverma71, Indian-Americans, like African-Americans do not vote as a monolithic block. I don't expect expect every one of you to toe some imaginary "party line" and you shouldn't expect African Americans -- or white America for that matter -- to do the same.

We don't need a lecture from you on whom to look up to in our community.

If you consider the people you listed -- save for Al Gore -- "uniters" or "leaders" you are sorely mistaken. "Warmonger" might be a more appropriate label.

Obama is THE BEST CHOICE for President in '08.

Posted by: jade_7243 | December 31, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Read this and tell me you don't want Obama to be our president. He's a real human being. How refreshing would it be to have a real human being in the Oval Office? It would be awesome!

Posted by: JohnY63 | December 31, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Obama is no Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Bill Cosby. There are many great black americans who have contributed more and immensly for upliftment and equality of minorities in America.
He will talk to Terrorist sponsors Iran,Syria,Pakistani Taliban,Iraq and every other nutcase. That is so naive and inexperienced. He thinks his middle name "hussain" will bring the mullahs to negotiatin table. That is so ignorant.

Seriously what has he done except call the war a bad idea?...even a 5 yr old will say war is a bad idea.

He is a good speaker but not a leader. To be a leader, you have to unite everyone.

Clintons,McCain,Giuliani,Gore,Colin Powell are some of the uniters that I know of.

Posted by: shailverma71 | December 31, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Because of her high negatives Hillary is the most risky candidate to run in the general election and the least able to accomplish anything in in DC. If Obama and Edwards both come out of Iowa and NH still competative, maybe they need to strike a deal to stop Clinton. Whoever is in the stronger position in the polls and financially gets to lead the ticket. Edwards, limited by public financing spending limits, is not in a good position to run a campaign until the convention in late Aug.

Posted by: lcw04 | December 31, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Indian Americans will not VOTE FOR BARACK HUSSAIN OBAMA.

He lost our vote (2 million nearly) when he called Sen.Clinton as D-Punjab.

He is a intern level senator riding on his skin color and wont get our votes. We will vote enmasse for Clinton or another republican.

How can you compare him to someone like Hillary who has served in various levels for 20 yrs?. How is he better than McCain or even Giuliani in experience?

Nothing more than a joke and desis(Indians) wont bite his chappati

Posted by: shailverma71 | December 31, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

sfmandrew - actually, Clinton wins big in NY and California, while Obama does well in Iowa and Illinois (not far, geographically or culturally, from Ohio).

I think he would really shore up the midwest for Dems with this election.

Posted by: rpy1 | December 31, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Thank goodness there is a choice for once. Unlike the previous four elections where we had two sad candidates shoved down our throats.

If you want to vote for the stability of a continuation in structure of the last 16 years, you can. If you want a bright, new (competent but untried) face, its yours. If you want someone with an attitude and a point of view and I mean that as a compliment, the opportunity is there.

And that is the Democrats, the Republicans are a garden market of choices. Unless, one of these people is a bald-faced liar and we are unlikely enough to elect that person, I don't see how we can lose this time around. If anything, this may be American politics' greatest moment.

Posted by: djwilbur | December 31, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Obama appeals to the same Volvo driving 'reform' liberals that loved Bill Bradley and Bruce Babbit. He does terribly in battle ground states, huge margins in California, New York and Massachusetts won't win the Presidency if you lose Ohio, Nevada and Virginia.

Posted by: sfmandrew | December 31, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

NO more Clinton dynasty, McCain's Politics of Fear, Edward's Phony tactics and corrupted Health Industry.


Also its time to end 20 years of Clinton/Bush political


Hillary Clinton Voted for War on Iraq.
Barack Obama opposed this and he was right.

Hillary Clinton recently labelled Iran as a terrorist country.
Barack Obama opposed this and he was right.

Hillary Clinton supported Bush on aid to Pakistan for wrong reasons.
Barack Obama opposed this and he was right.



Posted by: jkojs | December 31, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I watched Obama on C-SPAN and Meet the Press yesterday. I'm proud of the way he avoids negative campaigning and wraps himself in the politics of hope. I'm an enthusiastic supporter without feeling the need to denigrate the other great democrats running.

Posted by: rich5 | December 31, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Edwards is a good candidate, but please, if he wins in Iowa, it is a win for Hillary. Hilary know's and is playing it for all it is worth. Please all you Edwards and Obama supporters, stop fighting with each other. Unite. Pick Obama and Edwards as your first and second choices in which ever order. Only by uniting against Clinton do either of them have a chance to win! She needs to come in third. We are looking to you all in Iowa and New Hampshire to save us.

Dying in DC from "politics as usual"

Posted by: ann31 | December 31, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I do think Obama is closer to the middle class than any other top candidate. John Edwards worked for a hedge fund just a year or two ago. John Edwards has a 727 financed (to the tune of half a million) by some shadowy corporate entity with an address of some hotel or something in New York City. Clinton is the queen of lobbyist fundraisers on the Democratic side (of course the title of king of lobbyist money goes surprisingly to John McCain). Yes Obama is the one who went to Wall Street and told them they had to stop just taking care of themselves, they had to start taking care of the middle class. Obama is the one who will take care of average people. He really does care about us.

Posted by: goldie2 | December 31, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Changing political equations is what it's all about this time. We cant afford to keep doing politics as usual. The problems of America and the problems of the world are too big for us to keep being so petty. For real change, for a new political mandate, for a new paradigm in American politics and in the world, vote for Barack Obama

Posted by: katharinestavrinou | December 31, 2007 3:07 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone asked Romney what the price of milk and a dozen eggs are? Can he use a self checkout at the market?

Posted by: thebobbob | December 31, 2007 2:26 AM | Report abuse

I think it's great that Michelle and Barack Obama are "not that far from normal." Other candidates' wives also still shop at Target (that's where Elizabeth Edwards was right before Christmas). It's also great that Obama has a commitment to public service and social change, but I have to question why he believes that his may be best route to that end.

John Edwards didn't have the lucrative job offers to turn down out of the public university law school he attended; he and Elizabeth both had student loans to pay off as well. John Edwards worked long and hard to become the nationally-renown trial lawyer we know today -- not through lucrative job offers given to Harvard graduates but in small regional firms, fighting tirelessly for regular people against corporations and insurance companies.

Barack Obama chose the classroom, community organizing and state politics as his route to Washington, and the stepping-stone path was clear. John Edwards chose the courtroom, and his path to Washington wasn't considered seriously until after personal events intervened in 1996.

Both are lawyers, each with a different path to their meeting place today. Neither path is better or worse, and Obama's not-so-subtle dig seems more conceited than it does appropriate.

Posted by: edgery1 | December 31, 2007 1:28 AM | Report abuse

If Edwards wins in Iowa, the nomination will go to Hillary.


Obama does the best against republicans...

Posted by: johnk | December 31, 2007 1:11 AM | Report abuse

"some have even accused him of supporting infanticide."

yes, and other have accused him of being a Muslim Manchurian candidate, planning to infiltrate the U.S. government.

others have accused him of being a drug dealer.

just like McCain has an illegitimate black baby in South Carolina.

and HRC had a man sent to a Brazilian prison so that he wouldn't hurt her Senate campaign.

Every single one of us would suddenly have a bunch of drug dealing, illegitimate, black children who we were hiding in Brazilian prisons -- IF we were a leading presidential candidate.

Nobody believes any of this crapola. Get a life.

Posted by: uhbkeys | December 31, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Senator Obama never became a trial lawyer because he wouldn't have been good at it. He was good at the paper work in a corporate environment. It takes real communication skills to be successful in a courtroom. Edwards became a trial lawyer by chance in taking a case that he felt needed justice. He won because he really wanted to help and he turned out to be superb at it because he worked hard and prepared thoroughly. That is the way he would work at being president. How terrific would that be?

Posted by: pioneer111 | December 31, 2007 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Senator Obama has whats it takes to change political equations and rebuild consensus in this country. Senator Clinton has experience in Washington, but sadly the bulk of that experience is in fighting partisan battles in DC, and half the country will not vote for her. Obama on th other hand is a world-class genius that has experience shedding old baggage to get new results. I'm not sure what more we could ask for...

Its time to get off the Bush-Clinton merry-go-round...

Posted by: maq1 | December 30, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

AP-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has a lot of explaining to do.
He voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive. He supported allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, but opposed allowing people to use banned handguns to defend against intruders in their homes. And the list of sensitive topics goes on. With only a slim, two-year record in the U.S. Senate, Obama doesn't have many controversial congressional votes which political opponents can frame into attack ads. But his eight years as an Illinois state senator are sprinkled with potentially explosive land mines, such as his abortion and gun control votes. recent land purchase from a political supporter who is facing charges in an unrelated kickback scheme involving investment firms seeking state business. Abortion opponents see Obama's vote on medical care for aborted fetuses as a refusal to protect the helpless. Some have even accused him of supporting infanticide.

Posted by: dyck21005 | December 30, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

No politician since Ronald Reagan has shown such a sunny disposition, even though Obama is at long last emerging as a "happy warrior" akin to Hubert Humphrey.

Posted by: FirstMouse | December 30, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

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