With more and more households feeling squeezed by the rising cost of living, Senator Barack Obama told Iowans yesterday that he understood their economic anxieties and would work to restore the American dream for middle-class families.
Drawing on his own family's experiences a generation ago, Obama said Americans today are struggling to cover skyrocketing healthcare and energy costs, and increasingly unable to afford college for their children.
"As I see this every day on the campaign trail, I'm reminded of how unlikely it is that the dreams of my family could be realized today," Obama said at the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency in Bettendorf, Iowa, according to prepared remarks. "I don't accept this future."
Obama called for a series of remedies aimed at middle-class voters, including a $1,000 tax cut for working families; an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act; guaranteed paid sick days for workers; a new $4,000 tax credit for higher education; and portable retirement accounts.
In a telephone interview after his speech, Obama dismissed polls indicating that blue-collar voters prefer rival Hillary Clinton. He said she is simply better known.
"They're more likely to be familiar with Senator Clinton, the Clinton brand name, than they are with me," he said. "Now that they're paying attention, I think it's a great opportunity for us to show how I've been fighting for the issues that they care about for the last two decades."
Diet eating at Thompson
GREENVILLE, S.C. - When Republican White House hopeful Fred Thompson heard he was going to a country-style restaurant in South Carolina, he said his eyes lighted up, anticipating a good Southern breakfast.
"But doggone, they brought me in a fruit plate," Thompson said to laughs at Tommy's Country Ham House.
The former Tennessee senator has said his wife, Jeri, and others have told him to watch his cholesterol and weight and to exercise more. He has said that his visible weight loss is not health-related and that he's following a new eating plan at home: "If it tastes good, don't eat it."
Paul optimistic about N.H.
NASHUA - Pumped up by a record day of online fund-raising, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul said yesterday that he hopes to do well in a New Hampshire campaign in which he's emerging as a potential spoiler.
Paul said people startled by the $4.3 million take from his fund-raising blitz Monday might be surprised on primary day as well.
Paul, a Texas congressman, has stood out at Republican debates as the strongest advocate for a quick US withdrawal from Iraq. But he said much of his support comes from people frightened about the economy.