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Obama Talks Economy in the Southwest

Residents of the Albuquerque, N.M., area listen to Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., during an economic summit in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Feb. 1, 2008.(AP).

By Dan Balz
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- On a day when the government delivered a gloomy jobs report, Sen. Barack Obama staged an economic summit -- featuring two former members of the Clinton administration cabinet - that quickly turned into a pep rally for his presidential campaign.

Obama spoke before another overflow audience who filled an auditorium, an overflow room with more waiting outside to catch a glimpse of the candidate. When New Mexico Attorney General Patsy Madrid, a former supported of John Edwards's presidential campaign, declared that she was now behind Obama and predicted that he would win here next Tuesday, the audience erupted with cheers and applause.

Well aware that rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has made the economy her central issue in the campaign, Obama delivered prepared remarks outlining his analysis causes and possible solutions to the country's economic woes.

Obama noted that the sub-prime mortgage crisis has pushed the economy to the brink of recession. But he added, "What we're seeing is that the failed policies of this administration and the broken politics of Washington helped set the stage for this economic slowdown long before our housing problems ever began," he said.

Obama called for a mixture of short-term stimulus and longer-term structural changes and investments in education to help stressed-out families and put the American economy in a more competitive position globally.

His ideas include tax rebates for families and supplements for senior citizens, extending unemployment insurance, new rules to prevent a repeat of the mortgage crisis, middle-class tax cuts and college tuition assistance - among other ideas.

Obama chastised President Bush for advocating tax cuts "for every single economic problem under the sun" the past seven years and took another swipe at GOP front-runner Sen. John McCain for changing his mind on the appropriateness of those tax cuts.

"There was a time when Senator McCain courageously defied the fiscal madness of massive tax cuts for the wealthy in the midst of a costly war," he said. "But that was before he started running for the Republican nomination and fell in line."

His panel of experts included former commerce secretary William Daley and former transportation secretary Federico Pena - both supporters of Obama's candidacy - along with senior economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, Bonnie Greathouse, an organizer for ACORN in New Mexico, and Madrid.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 1, 2008; 5:29 PM ET
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I attended this summit yesterday. We listened intently, stood and cheered frequently at the proposals Sen. Obama presented. Even when asked a question from the audience about improving conditions on the reservations without overstepping tribal rights, the Senator was informed and authoritative.

As for the oft-touted Clinton stranglehold on Latino voters -- the audience reflected New Mexico's diverse population: young and old (my 78 year old mother and our 80 year old neighbor among that demographic), black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, white collar, blue collar. New Mexico is a "majority minority" state.

I think the media is underestimating the ability of Sen. Obama to reach out to voters, in a way and for reasons that Hillary Clinton cannot.

The comments I heard most often as we were leaving the venue: "that was so inspiring" (and remember this was an "economic summit" not his barn-burning stump speech) and "I'm voting for HIM."

Posted by: jade_7243 | February 2, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

We've had 35 years of bumper sticker politics. How's it working out for everyone. No taxes, No good.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 2, 2008 1:30 AM | Report abuse

If the government can lend banks money at 3%, then why can't it buy all the subprime mortgages in the country and refinance them at 4% letting most of the homeowners to keep their houses. The refinance charges can be additional payments at the end of the mortgage. Sallie and Fannie Mae could handle the paper with add'l resources. Giving the lower end of homeowners a break seems too reasonable a solution for our elected officials.

Posted by: jameschirico | February 1, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

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