Obama Visits Wisconsin

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Updated Friday --- February 15, 2008 --- 12:45pm

Obama says in Milwaukee that hope doesn't make him naive

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says that just because he has hope doesn't make him naive.

Obama responded to criticism from rival Hillary Rodham Clinton during a speech to several hundred people at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee. Supporters chanted his name as he spoke.

Obama says change in America starts from the bottom up -- not the top down. And he says if something is worth doing, someone will hope for it.

He says he knows it will take hard work to address problems in health care, the economy and Iraq -- but he's hopeful he can.

The Illinois senator also has campaign stops Friday in Oshkosh and Green Bay.

AP

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Updated Wednesday --- February 13, 2008 -- 6:30pm

Janesville: What a difference 12 hours makes. Tuesday night Barack Obama was speaking to an overflow crowd of 20,000 people at the Kohl Center. Wednesday Obama had a much smaller crowd and a different kind of speech.

Barack Obama was playing to a much different crowd Wednesday. A couple hundred UAW members sat down to listen to a speech on Obama's economic policy.

"The promise of Janesville has been the promise of America," says Obama.

Obama pleased the crowd when he said he would repeal tax cuts for companies that ship jobs overseas, and when he said he would oppose any more trade deals unless they had protections for the environment and American workers.

Obama's visit capped off a two day flurry of activity at the Janesville Assembly Plant.

Tuesday, GM announced they were offering buyouts to employees.

"We had the visit from Barack Obama, and then the buyouts came and this place is just buzzing," says UAW local president Mike Sheridan.

Obama did not directly address the buyouts, but he did talk about the challenges facing Janesville and G.M.

"I know that General Motors has been going through some bad news lately," he said. With the conversion to more hybrid vehicles, G.M. can shape its own future. "I believe that if our government is there to support you and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition that this plant will be here for another 100 years."

And that had the workers fired up. "I think he wants to make some changes that's going to help the country, the environment, help General Motors. I want this plant to thrive even after I'm gone," says Frank Hereford, a 37 year veteran at GM.

Sheridan says he expects anywhere between 300 and 700 Janesville workers to take the buyouts. He says about 700 took the buyouts offered in 2006.

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Posted Wednesday --- February 13, 2008 --- 1:00pm

Janesville workers like what they hear

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- Some workers at Janesville's GM plant like what they heard from Barack Obama Wednesday.

The Democratic presidential candidate toured the plant and later promised autoworkers he would end tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas and would not sign trade agreements unless they include protections for the environment and American workers.

Jim Conley was worked at the plant for 39 years. Conley says he liked Obama's promise not to tax Social Security income and to end tax cuts for businesses that send jobs overseas.

Lorenzo Barnes of Janesville worked at the plant for 31 years. He says the country needs a change and Obama is the man to bring it.

AP

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Posted Wednesday --- February 13, 2008 --- 10:45am

Obama blames Bush for economic downturn in speech to autoworkers

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- Barack Obama blamed President Bush Wednesday for the economic downturn in remarks to General Motors workers in Janesville.

The automakers are among 74,000 GM employees considering a buyout offer.

The Democratic presidential candidate is speaking at the Janesville plant a day after the company reported the largest annual loss ever for an American automaker -- nearly $39 billion in 2007.

Obama says it's failed leadership and imagination in Washington that caused economic struggles, including the housing crisis.

Obama is promising to end tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas and not to sign trade agreements unless they include protections for the environment and American workers.

He criticizes Bush for giving tax cuts to corporations and the rich while spending billions on the war in Iraq. Obama also rebukes Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Republican front-runner John McCain for supporting the war.

AP

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Updated Wednesday --- February 13, 2008 --- 10:20am

Obama brings campaign to Wisconsin

(AP) -- The race is on, and presidential candidates will be running all over Wisconsin as part of it.

Democrat Barack Obama broke the ice Tuesday night. He drew 17,000 people to the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a rally. And it came just as he was winning primaries in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Obama spoke sharply against the Iraq war and Republican candidate John McCain, instead of focusing on his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

He says he'll carry his message of changing America's direction across the state, then to Ohio and Texas, and then on to the Democratic convention in Denver.

He'll be in Wisconsin Wednesday, first at the General Motors plant in Janesville and then at town hall meetings in Waukesha and Racine.

Clinton is due in Wisconsin for a Democratic dinner Saturday night, and Obama is scheduled to be there too. Clinton's campaign says she'll then stay in the state until Tuesday morning -- primary election day.

AP

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Updated Tuesday --- February 12, 2008 -- 9:20pm

Obama criticizes McCain at big Madison rally

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Speaking to a crowd of more than 17,000 in Madison Tuesday night, Barack Obama railed against the Iraq war and spoke sharply against the presumptive Republican nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain.

Instead of focusing on his Democratic challenger, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama criticized McCain's support for the Iraq war, tying his backing of that and other policies to the Bush administration.

Obama told the crowd -- quote -- "It is time to turn the page and write a new chapter in American history."

The rally marks the first time a candidate for president stepped foot in Wisconsin to campaign for next week's primary. Clinton announced she won't arrive in the state until Saturday, but she'll keep campaigning here until Tuesday morning -- primary election day.

Obama backers filled the Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus for the rally. It was timed to coincide with the closing of polls in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., where Obama defeated Clinton Tuesday.

AP

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Updated Tuesday --- February 12, 2008 -- 7:50pm

Obama attracts thousands to Madison rally

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Hundreds of people lined up in subfreezing temperatures in Madison Tuesday evening to see Barack Obama at his first campaign stop in Wisconsin this year.

Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton announced she won't arrive in the state until Saturday, but she'll keep campaigning here until next Tuesday morning -- primary election day.

Obama hoped to pack the 17,000-seat Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus for a rally timed to coincide with the closing of polls in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

18 year-old Liza Burkin arrived four hours before Obama was to take the stage and found herself 200 people deep in line. A UW freshman, Burkin says she's attracted to Obama's idealism and his opposition to the Iraq war.

19 year-old freshman Steve Seifert says interest in the election at the campus is high. He says most of his friends support Obama.

Wisconsin's primary a week away is the next on the calendar for the Democratic rivals for the party's presidential nomination.

AP

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Updated Tuesday --- February 12, 2008 --- 1:25pm

Obama plans event in Green Bay on Friday

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Illinois Sen. Barack Obama plans to speak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Friday.

The Brown County Democratic Party announced his visit Tuesday. Obama is speaking at the Founder Day Gala.

The Democratic presidential candidate is making his first appearance in the state on Tuesday night at a rally in Madison at the Kohl Center.

Tickets are required for the Green Bay stop, but they are free. They can be obtained through the county party's Web site.

Obama also has stops planned for Wednesday in Janesville, Waukesha and Racine. He will be in Milwaukee on Saturday for a Democratic Party dinner.

AP