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Obama looking to make impact quickly, aides say

President-elect Barack Obama is looking forward to Monday’s White House transition talks with President Bush and is already examining ways to make a quick impact upon taking office, top Obama aides said Sunday.

“I think it was very gracious of President Bush to invite him so early — usually it happens a little later in the process,” Valerie Jarrett, one of the transition team’s co-chairs, told reporters.

“I think because of the daunting challenges that are facing our country, President Bush thought it was important to move forward quickly.”

A prominent Democratic source close to Obama said Jarrett is also Obama’s choice to be named to take over his seat in the Senate, though Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich would have the final say over a replacement.

And John Podesta, the other co-chair, said the talks are likely to cover “a broad range of issues” — but the slumping U.S. economy is expected to dominate the discussion.

Podesta told CNN’s “Late Edition” that Obama will push Congress to enact “at least part” of an economic package before he takes office in January, but said the problems Americans face need short-term and long-term approaches.

“It’s clear that we need to stabilize the economy, to deal with the financial meltdown that’s now spreading across the rest of the economy. The auto industry is really, really back on its heels,” Podesta said.

And Obama’s designated White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said the government needs to consider “fast-forwarding” $25 billion in low-interest loans already approved by Congress to help the Big Three U.S. automakers retool for more efficient vehicles.

“They are an essential part of our economy and our industrial base,” Emanuel told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He added: “There are existing authorities within the government today that the administration should tap to help the auto industry.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both Democrats, urged Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson over the weekend to extend the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry to shore up the ailing Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, which have been battered by the credit crisis and poor sales of gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles. But Treasury spokesperson Brookly McLaughlin said Sunday that the department remains focused on the financial sector and restarting stalled lending.

Podesta said Congress could extend unemployment benefits for laid-off workers and provide assistance to states grappling with increased Medicaid costs quickly. But he said efforts to improve schools, expand health-care coverage and wean the nation’s energy industry away from imported fuels “need to be tackled together.”

And he told “Fox News Sunday” that the incoming administration is conducting an extensive review of Bush’s executive orders, looking for quick changes that Obama can make from his first day in office.

“As a candidate, Senator Obama said that he wanted all the Bush executive orders reviewed and decide which ones should be kept and which ones should be repealed and which ones should be amended, and that process is going on. It’s been undertaken,” Podesta said.

Podesta said Obama’s team will be “looking at — again, in virtually every agency — to see where we can move forward, whether that’s on energy transformation, on improving health care, on stem cell research.”

Podesta said there is a lot the president can do without waiting for Congress, and voters can expect to see Obama do so to try to restore “a sense that the country is working on behalf of the common good.”

Bush and Obama are set to meet Monday afternoon at the White House’s Oval Office.

“I’m sure they’ll be open and frank, as I’m sure they’ve always been able to talk to one another,” Jarrett said. “So I think it’s a good sign for this country that they’re having this meeting when they’re having it, and we look forward to the days and weeks ahead.”

At the same time, first lady Laura Bush will take Obama’s wife, Michelle, on a tour of the executive mansion

November 10, 2008 Posted by | News, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

What will be the biggest challenge facing President-elect Obama once he takes office?

America is one of the world’s few superpowers, whose actions will have a lasting impact on this century. The world is watching Barack Obama — what do you think will be the most important issue he will have to tackle once his administration begins?

I think he will have many. Changing the right wing extreme views and bigotry and attitudes of self-entitlement that some people have will be the hardest within America.

It will take time to fix the economy and set up legislation and forge forward and accomplish the goals he has proposed. Some things will be achieved quicker than others but being able to count on the American people to work with him will likely be the quickest and best thing that Americans have going, being able to help one another and be the changes they want to see.

Iraq and all that would be a problem for anyone to resolve, but I believe Obama will find a solution, and he is more likely to find a diplomatic one and be received better than McCain would have been IMHO.

I hope that the racist attitudes people have will start to fade away and that people realize we are all human beings created equal in this world. Until people respect one another in that way you will always have internal conflicts which only hinder progress.

So Iraq will definitely be one major, visible issue, and the economy the other. This will take time to fix because as Obama said, many things have to happen (new business for American workers, new energy sources, healthcare, education) and these won’t happen overnight and quite possibly take two terms of presidency to really see the progress and benefit.

But one thing I’m sure of is that you have the right man at the helm to do it.

So enough with the racial stuff and talk of assassinations and murders…that is a horrible thing to even think never mind perpetrate….stop it and get over it and work with your new President to make your country all that it should be.

You know Americans should feel PROUD that the world is celebrating this victory as if it were their own.

You have a great leader with potential to change not only America for the better but the world too. I think the rest of the world is hoping that he finds a way to unify not only America, but ALL OF us, as a global family. Perhaps that is a lot to put on one man’s shoulders, but people are worried about the direction our world is heading and here is someone who has a very special quality who just might be able to lead us all in the direction we all want and need to go, so that our children have a future on this planet too.

Sad would be the day you went back to what you had yesterday!!

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

US Chooses CHANGE

Barack Obama did more than thump John McCain in the Electoral College tally; he also handily won the popular vote and redrew the great divide between red states and blue states.

Riding a Democratic tide that bolstered the party’s presence in both houses of Congress, Obama snared about 63 million votes to McCain’s 55.8 million, according to totals early Wednesday.

According to exit polls, Obama crushed McCain among women voters (56 percent to 43 percent); voters under 30 (66 percent to 32 percent); African-American voters (95 percent to 4 percent); Latino voters (66 percent to 32 percent); first-time voters (68 percent to 31 percent); and voters making less than $100,000 a year (55 percent to 43 percent).

“I think this is the passing of an old order,” CNN senior political analyst David Gergen said as the results rolled in Tuesday night and the outcome became increasingly evident.

“I think what we see … is a new coalition, a new order emerging. It isn’t quite there, but with Barack Obama, for the first time, it’s won. It is the Latino vote we just heard about. It is the bigger black vote that came out. Very importantly, it’s the youth vote, the 18-to-29-year-old,” said the Harvard University professor and former presidential adviser.

Early voting totals in the East suggested things would go traditionally, with McCain taking most of the Southeast, Obama most of the Northeast.

But then things quickly changed, as the senator from Illinois struck — first in Pennsylvania and then in the Midwest state of Ohio, states McCain had to win in his bid for the Oval Office. Obama then delivered an uppercut in Virginia, a state that had not voted for a Democratic president since 1964.

As polls closed from East to West, Obama kept hammering McCain, as he snatched away Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada — states that had been in President Bush’s column in 2004.

And Wednesday morning, Obama added Indiana to the list of states he’d turned from red to blue. Indiana hadn’t voted for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

(Missouri and North Carolina were still counting votes Wednesday, but it appeared one or two of them could become blue-state converts as well.)

With McCain on the ropes, an Obama victory in Florida sounded the death knell.

When Indiana fell into Obama’s column Wednesday morning, he had a 349-163 lead over his rival in electoral votes, with only 26 undecided.

As he claimed victory Tuesday night, Obama told supporters, “change has come to America.”

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there,” Obama said in Chicago before an estimated crowd of up to 240,000 people.

With Obama’s win, he becomes the first African-American to win the White House.

McCain pledged Tuesday night to help Obama lead.

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” McCain said.

The senator from Arizona called Obama to congratulate him, and Obama told him that he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together.

Obama will also be working with a heavily Democratic Congress. Democrats picked up Senate seats in New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia, among others.

But Obama pledged to work across party lines and listen to the 46 percent of voters who chose McCain.

“While the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress,” Obama said.

“To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn — I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too,” he said.

And he recited the words of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican in White House, to call for unity.

“As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, ‘We are not enemies, but friends … though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection,'” Obama said.

upporters in Chicago cheering, “Yes, we can,” were met with cries of “Yes, we did.”

Bush also called Obama to offer his congratulations.

The president told Obama he was about to begin one of the great journeys of his life, and invited him to the White House as soon as it could be arranged, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

More than 1,000 people gathered outside the White House, chanting “Obama, Obama!”

Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former rival for the Democratic nomination, said in a statement that “we are celebrating an historic victory for the American people.”

“This was a long and hard fought campaign, but the result was well worth the wait. Together, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress, we will chart a better course to build a new economy and rebuild our leadership in the world.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy said Americans “spoke loud and clear” in electing Obama.

“They understood his vision of a fairer and more just America and embraced it. They heard his call for a new generation of Americans to participate in government and were inspired. They believed that change is possible and voted to be part of America’s future,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.

Voters expressed excitement and pride in their country after casting their ballots in the historic election. Poll workers reported high turnout across many parts of the country, and some voters waited hours to cast their ballots.

Tuesday marked the end of the longest presidential campaign season in U.S. history — 21 months.

Obama, 47, will begin his transition to the White House. He will be sworn in as the 44th president on January 20.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wait times reach 4 to 6 hours in St. Louis area

Long lines at polling stations across the city are no surprise, said officials at the St. Louis County Board of Elections. Callers into the CNN Voting Hotline reported waits of 4 to 6 hours in the northern suburbs of Jennings and Velda City.

The county’s board of elections assistant director Dick Bauer said a lengthy ballot and what he expects to be a record turnout have slowed the process. Voters can make as many as 37 selections on the ballot today, and 10 of them are issue choices, said Bauer.

Voters in line at two polling locations in the suburb of Jennings have been experiencing waits of 4 hours or more, according to U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay. The congressman said both Jennings City Hall and Fairview Elementary were understaffed to handle the crowds.

“As we expected, the St. Louis County Board of Elections authority was ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the mass of humanity that showed up to exercise their constitutional right to vote today,” said Clay. He said two judges were in place at Fairview Elementary where upwards of 400 people were waiting in line to vote.

Judge Joseph Goeke, director of the Board of Elections, said Clay’s statement was incorrect, and that Fairview Elementary had 12 judges all day. He said the county was planning to add another two judges this afternoon. In response to Clay’s accusations that polls were ill-equipped and understaffed, Goeke said his plans for today’s elections exceeded requirements.

“We’re required to have one voting device for every 124 people, and I have one for every 108 or 109,” said Goeke. Goeke also said voters in St Louis County have 25% more equipment than he has ever deployed in an election.

St. Louis County has touchscreen and optical scan equipment. Goeke said that “outside influences” are trying to dissuade voters from using touchscreen machines and that some of them go idle at polling stations.

“It’s a shame certain advocates are slowing down the process by telling people to take paper ballots”, said Goeke, “we have more than enough equipment available.”

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , | Leave a comment

High turnout in historic US polls

Democrat Barack Obama is joining the nation’s earliest voters in filling in a ballot in his historic presidential contest with Republican John McCain.

Obama arrived at his precinct in Chicago shortly after 7:30 CST Tuesday. His wife, Michelle, and their young daughters accompanied him as he received a ballot and went to a polling station. The Obamas stood side by side and their daughters looked on as they read their ballots.

Obama planned a quick campaign stop in Indiana on Election Day before a massive outdoor rally in front of the skyline in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The day’s forecast was for an unseasonably warm 70 degrees.

McCain planned events in Colorado and New Mexico, then a party at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, long lines have formed as polls open in Eastern states as John McCain is counting on a narrow path to an upset victory today while Barack Obama pinned his hopes for becoming the nation’s first black president on a ground organization designed to swell precincts with voters across the country.

“I think these battleground states have now closed up, almost all of them, and I believe there’s a good scenario where we can win,” McCain told CBS’ “The Early Show” in an interview broadcast as the day’s first voters stood in early-morning lines.

“Look, I know I’m still the underdog, I understand that,” the Arizona senator said. “You can’t imagine, you can’t imagine the excitement of an individual to be this close to the most important position in the world, and I’ll enjoy it, enjoy it. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he was confident that new voters and young voters would fuel an enormous turnout to benefit the Illinois senator.

“We just want to make sure people turn out,” Plouffe told “Today” on NBC. “We think we have enough votes around the country.”

Standing in line in one of the battleground states, Ahmed Bowling of Alexandria, Viginia, said the election “will mark a significant change in the lives of all Americans, and so we do have to come out as early as possible to cast our votes.”

In Brooklyn, New York, 49-year-old Venus Kevin said the line at her precinct was “already down the block and around the corner” when she arrived shortly before 6 am EST.

“Obama is the man,” said Kevin, who is black. “His message and his vision has reached a lot of people, not just African-Americans.”

The contest pitted the 47-year-old Obama, a first-term Illinois senator who rocketed to stardom on the power of his oratory and a call for change, against the 72-year-old McCain, a 26-year lawmaker whose mettle was tested during 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“I’m feeling kind of fired up. I’m feeling like I’m ready to go,” Obama told nearly 100,000 people gathered for his final rally Monday night in Virginia.

“At this defining moment in history, Virginia, you can give this country the change it needs,” Obama said to voters in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in 44 years.

McCain completed a cross-country trek through seven battleground states before arriving at home in Phoenix early Tuesday morning.

“This momentum, this enthusiasm convinces me we’re going to win tomorrow,” McCain told a raucous evening rally in Henderson, Nev. It was the fifth campaign stop in an 18-hour odyssey that took him across three time zones.

Obama planned a quick campaign stop in Indiana on Election Day before a massive outdoor rally in front of the skyline in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The day’s forecast was for an unseasonably warm 70 degrees.

McCain planned events in Colorado and New Mexico, then a party at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

Obama urged his supporters to resist overconfidence. “Even if it rains tomorrow, you can’t let that stop you. You’ve got to wait in line. You’ve got to vote,” he said.

OBAMA WINS IN EARLIEST VOTE IN TINY DIXVILLE NOTCH
Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, New Hampshire, where tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.

Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday’s first minutes. The town of Hart’s Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns’ ballots but got no votes.

“I’m not going to say I wasn’t surprised,” said Obama supporter Tanner Nelson Tillotson, whose name was drawn from a bowl to make him Dixville Notch’s first voter.

With 115 residents between them, Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location get every eligible voter to the polls beginning at midnight on Election Day. Between them, the towns have been enjoying their first-vote status since 1948.

Being first means something to residents of the Granite State, home of the nation’s earliest presidential primary and the central focus “however briefly” of the vote-watching nation’s attention every four years.

Town Clerk Rick Erwin said Dixville Notch is proud of its tradition, but added, “The most important thing is that we exemplify a 100 percent vote.”

Dixville Notch resident Peter Johnson said the early bird electoral exercise “is fun.” A former naval aviator, Johnson said he was voting for McCain, but added, “I think both candidates are excellent people.”

GRANDMOTHER DIES
The Illinois senator’s final day of campaigning was bittersweet: He was mourning the loss of his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him. She died of cancer Sunday night, never to see the results of the historic election.

A tearful Obama, who stands on the historic threshold of becoming the first black US president, told 25,000 supporters here that Madelyn Dunham had passed away in her sleep at her Hawaii home after a long battle with cancer.

She was 86.

The Democrat lauded Dunham, who raised him when his anthropologist mother was studying in Indonesia, as one of America’s “quiet heroes,” and delivered an impassioned vow to work for all such heroes if elected to the White House.

The news broke on the campaign’s final day as Obama blitzed through Florida and North Carolina before a concluding late-night rally in Virginia — all Republican states that he is bidding to flip into his column.

Obama had dashed to his grandmother’s side in Hawaii two weeks ago, fearing she would not live to see what polls suggest may be his triumph against Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s election.

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Voters ‘surprised,’ ‘excited’ on historic election day

Some polling places looked as if they were handing out free money as voters across the nation — including Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama — hit the polls in a historic election Tuesday.

When the ballots are counted, the United States will have elected either its first African-American president, or its oldest first-term president and first female vice president.

Voters were also making choices in a number of key House and Senate races that could determine whether the Democrats strengthen their hold on Congress.

“It feels great to be an American today. The best hour and a half of my life,” exclaimed Jude Elliot, an 8th-grade social studies teacher in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Elliot, who has been voting in Orangeburg since 1998, said it usually takes him five minutes to vote, but on Tuesday it took about 90 — and he arrived at 6:45 a.m.

“Polling station was packed — young, old, black, white, disabled, not,” he said. “It was amazing.”

But high turnout was not necessarily a theme at every polling station around the country.

“I was there at 10 in the morning, and I jokingly said the [entire] line was my wife — and that’s only because I let her through the door first ,” Nathan Grebowiec, a 27-year-old resident of Plainville, Kansas, said.

iReporter Jason Dinant also said there were no lines at his polling place in Syracuse, New York.

Most iReporters, however, said there were long lines and waits as they prepared to cast their ballots. Footage from Shoesmith Elementary in Chicago, Illinois — where Obama voted — and from Albright United Methodist Church in Phoenix, Arizona — where McCain voted — showed plenty of voters in line besides the presidential candidates.

iReporter Lindsey Miller, 23, votes at the same polling place as Obama. She said Secret Service agents were checking names off a list and using metal-detecting wands on some would-be voters as they entered the polling place. The line was around the block at 6 a.m., she said.

“A lot of people were in pajamas. I know I was — not the time you want to be on national TV,” the University of Chicago graduate student said.

iReporter Juan Bedoya Castano, 24, of Northampton, Pennsylvania, emigrated from Colombia to the United States 15 years ago, but he just became a citizen last month. He said he waited in line about an hour, texting his friends to remind them to vote as well.

“I’ve never voted for something and this actually means something,” Castano said.

Ronnie Senique, a math teacher from Landover, Maryland, said he, too, is voting his first U.S. presidential race. Senique is originally from the Bahamas, but he became a U.S. citizen about three years ago.

He got up well before dawn and was the first one at the polls when he arrived at 4:10 a.m., almost three hours before the polls opened. By the time he left, he said, “The lines were around the corner. They snaked around the school. They went into the street.”

Those standing in line to vote gave him a round of applause after he cast his first ballot in an American presidential election.

While most of the attention has been focused on the presidential race, the outcome of congressional elections across the country will determine whether the Democrats increase their clout on Capitol Hill.

Few predict that the Democrats are in danger of losing their control of either the House or the Senate, but all eyes will be on nearly a dozen close Senate races that are key to whether the Democrats get 60 seats in the Senate.

With 60 votes, Democrats could end any Republican filibusters or other legislative moves to block legislation.

Many political observers also predict that the Democrats could expand their majority in the House.

Voters will also weigh in on a number of ballot initiatives across the country, many of them focused on social issues like abortion and affirmative action.

As McCain and Obama, meanwhile, hit the campaign trail after casting their ballots.

McCain is scheduled to make visits to Grand Junction, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Colorado and New Mexico both voted for President Bush in 2004, but the latest polls have them leaning toward Obama.

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment