(by Josh Gerstein, NYSun.com) DENVER – Senator Obama of Illinois is signaling that he will meet the assault head-on and return fire of his own when Republicans and their presumptive presidential nominee, Senator McCain of Arizona, attempt to use their upcoming convention to fuel perceptions that Mr. Obama is out of touch with working Americans and too inexperienced to be trusted with the nation’s security.
“If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander in chief, that’s a debate I’m willing to have,” Mr. Obama said last night, accepting the Democratic presidential nomination before a crowd of 75,000 in the highly unusual venue of an outdoor football stadium.
Mr. Obama invoked one of the hallmarks of his campaign, his opposition to the war in Iraq, as he painted Mr. McCain as a key supporter of the strategy that put America’s military focus on Baghdad while Al Qaeda regrouped in Afghanistan.
“John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell – but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives,” the Democratic nominee declared. “You don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don’t protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington.”
He repeatedly referred to the Republican as out of touch, saying: “It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.”
Mr. Obama, the first African-American major-party nominee for president, noted that he was speaking on the 45th anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the National Mall in Washington.
However, the Democratic nominee largely eschewed such soaring rhetoric last night, opting instead to recite a litany of problems faced by ordinary Americans. Students, soldiers, factory workers, retirees, and working women all heard their challenges embraced by the Democratic nominee. A film played before Mr. Obama took the stage underscored his modest roots and his stint organizing low-income neighborhoods in Chicago.
“This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third,” Mr. Obama said. “We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight. … On November 4th, we must stand up and say: ‘Eight is enough.'”
The senator argued that his Republican opponent’s reputation as a maverick is largely undeserved.
“The record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90% of the time?” Mr. Obama said. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a 10% chance on change.”
Reprinted here with permission from The New York Sun. Visit the website at NYSun.com.
1. What Republican criticisms of Senator Obama did he counter in his acceptance speech last night at the closing of the Democratic National Convention?
2. How did Senator Obama compare his policies on Iraq and Afghanistan with those of his Republican rival John McCain?
3. What was Senator Obama’s main criticism of Senator McCain? (see para 5)
4. On what anniversary did Senator Obama give his acceptance speech?
5. Which groups’ problems were addressed by Senator Obama in his speech?
6. On what additional issue did Senator Obama criticize Senator McCain? (see para. 8-10)
Watch Senator Obam’s speech at the Democratic National Convention website.
Read the text of Senator Obama’s speech at the DNC website.