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Tuesday March 21, 2006 Edition
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Obama in Vermont to Stump for Welch and Sanders

Senator Barak Obama (D-IL)
photo by Chris LaFoy
Senator Barak Obama (D-IL)
Senator Peter Welch (D-VT)
photo by Chris LaFoy
Senator Peter Welch (D-VT)
Representative  Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
photo by Chris LaFoy
Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Tuesday March 21, 2006

By Chris LaFoy

    Powerful, eloquent words filled the Ira Allen Chapel on the campus of UVM on Friday, March 10th. US Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) came to town to speak to Vermonters about the state of politics today in America. The event was a campaign event for state senator Peter Welch (D) and US representative Bernie Sanders (I). Sen. Welch will be running for the seat in the US House of Representatives that Sanders has held since 1991. Sanders will be running for the soon to be vacant seat in the US Senate held by Jim Jeffords (I).

Most Vermonters would remember Sen. Obama by the speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Obama was picked by the Democratic National Committee to be the keynote speaker and he didn't disappoint. He spoke at UVM with the same vigor and strength he did two years ago in Boston. Obama spoke to Vermonters about the goals of the Democratic Party and how those goals would affect our residents.

“Americans want change. Big time. And so do I.” said Welch during his speech to over 800 people in the chapel.  Over 2000 supporters came out to see the event, although only around 800 could fit into the chapel,. Before the speeches started, the remaining people outside were greeted and spoke to via bull-horn by Obama, Sanders and Welch.

It was obvious that Obama felt that Welch would be a great addition to the US House and that the move from the House to the Senate was long overdue for Sanders. Welch also spoke of his start in politics, “I was young and found it hard to believe that only a few people could change the world.” His story of starting from the very bottom was very similar to Obama's beginnings. Obama served as a lawyer and community organizer in Chicago before being elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996. Welch also got his start in community organizing before he entered politics as a state senator in 1980. Welch worked in Lawndale, a poor neighborhood also in Chicago.

Among the crowd were some of the most powerful Democrats and Independents in Vermont. Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle (I) spoke, and his soon to be successor Bob Kiss (I) was in the audience. DNC Chairman and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean was also present for the event.

Among the many topics of the speeches was healthcare. All of the speakers showed great concern with the current state of healthcare and believed that there is a growing need for change. The speakers rarely turned to negative arguments, usually conveying a message of promise and hope. All of the speakers were interrupted several times for applause and received standing ovations. After the event Sen. Obama attended a fundraiser lunch with the two candidates.

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