November 3rd, 2007
08:30 AM ET
14 years ago

Where's Obama?

Watch Jessica Yellin's report on Sen. Obama's attendance record in the U.S. Senate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Since the U.S. Senate returned from its August receess, Sen. Barack Obama has missed more votes than another other Democrat running for the White House - nearly 80 percent since September. Congressional Correspondent Jessica Yellin has this report from Capitol Hill.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Chris Dodd • Hillary Clinton • Joe Biden • Senate
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. spinstopper

    Pandering to the voters like the other candidates, of course. What is being accomplished in Congress?

    Is CNN harassing Obama for not jumping onto his C02 spewing private jet for a trip back to Washington every other day like Hillary??

    November 3, 2007 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. Arshad, Newburgh, NY

    Here is a speech Obama delivered yesterday on Civil Right in South Carolina. Read it with an open mind and see how this man is instrumental to bridge racial and political division in this country and why we can't afford not to elect him instead of an ambitious, whining, corrupt woman who is looking to live up to her own ambition as opposed to a strong agenda for all of us.

    I don't see CNN is making any news on a great story like this one. Wake up CNN!!

    It’s a special honor to be here in Clarendon County. Because Clarendon County is the place that showed me and showed America that when ordinary people come together, they can do extraordinary things.

    That’s the Clarendon County I know.

    I know how sixty years ago, the NAACP’s James Hinton dared to ask why white children could ride buses to school but black children had to walk.

    I know how Reverend J.A. DeLaine, a preacher and teacher in Summerton, heard that call and joined with Levi Pearson, a father who was sick and tired of seeing his children walk nine miles to school, and with Harry and Eliza Briggs and more than a dozen other Black parents to challenge unequal education.

    I know that because of that challenge, Harry Briggs lost his job at the local service station, Eliza Briggs lost hers at a local hotel, and Reverend DeLaine’s home was burned to the ground while the fire department stood by and watched.

    It would have been easy for them to stay home. To heed the voices of caution and convenience that said, “wait,” “the timing isn’t right,” or “the country just isn’t ready.” It would have been easy for them to give in to the fears that no doubt kept them awake some nights.

    But I know that because they were willing to overcome their fears and reach for a larger dream, the Supreme Court overturned “separate but equal,” and Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

    And I know that I stand on their shoulders, that their courage and sacrifice six decades ago makes it possible for me to run today for President of the United States.

    So I know Clarendon County. The Clarendon County that showed a nation how to look up rather than down. The Clarendon County that made a claim on the American Dream. The Clarendon County that changed the course of history.

    But I also know another Clarendon County.

    I know schools in the Corridor of Shame.

    I know J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon was built more than a century ago, and for years had shattered windows, leaking ceilings, and broken bathrooms.

    I know South Carolina has the worst high school dropout rate in America.

    I know that all across this nation, one out of every four children go to schools just like J. V. Martin, and take away the same message that we don’t care enough about their education to do better by them.

    I know that America today is still blind to the poverty in our midst, and that we still tolerate Jena justice for some and Scooter Libby justice for others.

    I know that Black parents in Clarendon are still having to go to court to give their children an equal education – fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education.

    There is another side of Clarendon County, another side of America, still waiting for what Harry and Eliza Briggs hoped for. The hope that our children’s destinies aren’t written before they are born. The hope that one day the world as it is and the world as it should be might be one and the same.

    That is why I stand before you today as a candidate for President of the United States of America.

    I am running because I refuse to accept that the way it is, is the way it has to be. I refuse to accept it when I hear adults say things like “these kids can’t learn” or “these kids come from tough backgrounds” or “these kids are too far behind.” We need to start treating “these kids” like “our kids.”

    I am running because I want a sense of urgency about our kids in Washington. When I’m in the White House, we’ll reform No Child Left Behind so we don’t leave the money behind. We’ll recruit an army of new teachers – and make sure they come teach here in Manning – because the most important factor in a child’s education is the person standing at the head of the classroom. We’ll invest in early childhood education because for every dollar we put there, we get seven dollars back in reduced dropout rates, reduced delinquency, and reduced prison rates, and more young people can go to college and get good jobs. And we’ll rebuild our broken schools.

    We know why this matters. It’s not just that a good education is essential to helping the children of today compete more effectively as the workers of tomorrow. It’s that the promise of a good education makes it possible for every child to transcend the barriers of race and class and background and achieve their God-given potential. That’s why Harry and Eliza Briggs put their names on that lawsuit. That’s why so many others risked so much to give their children an equal education. That’s my story. That’s what the American story is supposed to be about.

    That cause is worth fighting for. A quality education is worth fighting for. Universal health care is worth fighting for. Economic opportunity is worth fighting for. Equality is still worth fighting for.

    And when I’m President, we’re going to have a government that helps us win these fights. Not because it’s up to me alone. Not because I have a corner on all the best ideas. But because I understand that we need more than a new campaign or candidate – we need a movement. We need a president ready to partner with you and not too important to do so, ready to move the American people to common cause on these issues, and willing to ask you to do your part – not just as voters, but as citizens.

    Because the truth is, no matter how many government programs we launch or how many tax dollars we spend, we can still fall short if each of us is unwilling to do our own part. If we’re unwilling to be responsible parents and turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to our child, and attend those parent/teacher conferences.

    We can still fall short if we don’t heal the hole in the hearts of all those young men standing on street corners in every city in this country without a sense of any destiny other than ending up in jail or dead. And healing that hole is going to take more than a change in policy; it’s going to take a change of heart.

    We’re going to have to reclaim in our own lives the belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper. It’s the belief that led folks in Clarendon not to turn their backs on Harry Briggs and his fellow foot soldiers, but to offer them money when their credit was cut at the local store, and a place to stay when they were kicked off the land. It’s the belief that led a white judge named J. Waites Waring to stand by their side even after a cross was burned on his lawn and shots were fired into his living room. And it’s the belief that led me into public service more than two decades ago.

    As some of you may know, after college, I walked away from a career on Wall Street, and went to work with a group of churches as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago so I could fight for folks who had lost their jobs when the local steel plant closed. And ever since, I’ve been fighting to put the American Dream within reach for every American. That’s why I went to work as a civil rights lawyer, and as a state Senator and as a U.S. Senator. That’s why I expanded health care to 150,000 children and their parents in Illinois. That's why I led the fight to reform a death penalty system that had sentenced 13 innocent men to death. That’s why I led the fight to reform racial profiling. And that’s why you can trust that I’ll fight for you as President.

    Now, I’ve heard that some folks aren’t sure America is ready for an African-American president, so let me be clear: I never would have begun this campaign if I weren’t confident I could win. But you see, I am not asking anyone to take a chance on me. I am asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations.

    Just imagine what we could do as partners in an Obama administration. Imagine a President who was raised like I was by a single mom who had to work and go to school and raise her kids and accept food stamps for a while. Imagine a President who could go into Holly Courts Apartments here in Manning or Scott’s Branch High School in Summerton, and give the young men and women there someone to look up to. Imagine a President who fought each day to narrow the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be.

    Narrowing that gap is not going to be easy. But real change never is. I can still remember one of the early days when I was just starting out as a community organizer in Chicago. We had set up a meeting to figure out how to rebuild our neighborhoods, but no one showed up. And our volunteers felt so defeated, they wanted to quit. And I was tired too.

    But at that moment, I looked outside and saw some young boys playing in a vacant lot across the street, tossing stones at a boarded-up apartment building. And I turned to the volunteers, and I asked them, “Before you quit, I want you to answer one question. What’s gonna happen to those boys?” I thought, if we cannot put aside our doubts and our cynicism; if we cannot see that we have a stake in those children; if we don’t realize that the fight for their future is the fight for our own, who will? One by one, the volunteers decided to stay. And block by block, we began to turn those neighborhoods around.

    So today, sixty years after James Hinton issued his challenge, I want to issue a challenge of my own. If you’re tired of the politics of fear and division; if you’re tired of a government that stands idly by while our schools go underfunded, our children go unemployed, and our communities are neglected; if you feel as I do that if we don’t fight for that next generation of children, who will? – then I’m asking you to join me. And if you can do that – if you can overcome your doubts, cast away your fears, and believe once again that real change is possible in this country – then I truly believe we can bring about the world that Harry and Eliza Briggs dreamed of for their children.

    November 3, 2007 10:04 am at 10:04 am |


    November 3, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Dan, Cambridge, MA

    That is how he keeps his promise. He told the people of the great state of Illinois that he would serve them, then forgot his duty.

    November 3, 2007 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. looneytune

    "I wonder what Ronald Regan thinks of his republican party. How the party been corrupted by loney toons." -alan St Louis MO

    No doubt, Ronnie was a great tune leader. His accomplishments of peace fill the history books and sometimes I can still hear the echoes of the crying libs. Yes, Ronnie was our greatest leader, until now..

    You see, we know that fifteen years from now, fairly stable democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq coupled with the longest economic expansion in history will once again silence all but the echo's of hate from the anti-peace libs certainly to still be crying about Bush's historical references too.

    It's destiny..

    November 3, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. Philip, Elkhart IN

    Why didn't they put the percentage of votes missed for the entire year? CNN seems to have just wanted to show the stats since Aug. and give a true but but very misleading representation of Obama.

    November 3, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Captain-Sky

    There You Go Mr Boston Find A Way To Excuse Mr Obama From His Duties As A US Senator,And If I'am Correct This Editorial Were About Mr Obama Missing 80% Of His Senate Vote,So Why Is All Of Mr Obama's Many Failures As A US Senator, Hilliary's Fault Because You Have To Post Something To Make Your Mr Obama Look Good,What Are you And he going To Do If For Some Reason He Is Elected President Of The US,And Let's Say,Approve War With Iran, & Pakinstan,Who Are You Going To Accusse Of His Many Flaws Then.And Remember Senator Clinton Want Be Around When He Make And I can Assure You Will His Many Gaffe's That He Has Shown Ever Since He's Announced He Would Running For POTUS,Oh I Know John Edwards Will Be His Vice President So He And Axlerod Can Blame Edwards,I Wouldn't Trust Axlerod,Plouffe,Sweet,Are Any Of The Rest Of That Chicago Mob.

    November 3, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. roger, conway sc

    Obama has been critizing & harping about Hillary on how she voted on the Iran bill YET he did not vote...another whiner & complainer

    November 3, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. TheInsider

    "Why is Obama being signaled out?"

    Because it's true.

    "Sen. Barack Obama has missed more votes than another other Democrat running for the White House — nearly 80 percent since September."

    He has been a senator for less than 3 years and has one of the poorest attendance records there;

    Having no record in the US senate, he runs on his record as a state legislator and two self-penned books in praise of himself.
    Indeed he has devoted his entire short tenure in the senate to running for even higher office, before and without ever distinguishing himself in his current position.
    What criteria would YOU propose we judge our candidates on? Certainly showing up to do your job is one metric that all reasonable people can agree on as each of us would have been fired long ago if we adopted senator Obama's caviler attitude to doing the job he applied for...

    November 3, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. TheInsider

    What the Clinton News Network didn't address is what are the averages of the two for 08′. I am willing to bet they are similar.
    Posted By JB Boston MA : November 3, 2007 8:31 am

    And you would lose your house...

    NewsFlash!- There are ACTUAL places where you can find out if you're talking through an alternate orifice, and you are here.
    Imagine if you were looking to find out the truth rather than pull a CYA with some smarmy moral-relativism.

    "Hillary Clinton has missed 70 votes (17.4%) during the current Congress"

    "Barack Obama has missed 133 votes (33.0%) during the current Congress."

    Twice as much.

    Now where's that DEED?

    November 3, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Jim Bremer

    Arshad in NY –

    Thanks for posting that essay.

    You do realize, don't you, that there is only a microscopic percentage of Americans that get swayed by speeches that are carefully scripted to have a MLK type effect.

    The rest of this country relies on good old American intuition that helps them spot fakes, flakes and posers.

    Your Obama talks and talks but won't take a stand on anything. He won't even vote on stuff – that's his paid job in case someone forgot.

    He's being naive to think he can change the world with sophomoric speeches.

    November 3, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. Ayyub, Richmond

    Oh my God CNN, I'm glad you're reporting to news for once but why after the debate on MSNBC and not when this was more of an issue weeks ago? CNN = Clinton News Network "For Clinton News and Support"

    November 3, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. jennifer, worcester MA

    thank you for the moving speech by obama that you posted. obama should be given more time to elaborate on and specify his ideas.

    November 3, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. Christian, Tampa FL

    Obviously you can't adequately be a lawmaker and simultaneously fight to overtake the most powerful political machine in America: Hillary Clinton's.

    If Obama becomes President, missing 80% of the votes will be trivial because he will accomplished his mission and the mission of his supporters: to upset the politics of division and to have a brand new legacy in American politics.

    He is currently representing a larger number of constituents than just his state, and I would guess that most Illinois voters don't mind.

    November 3, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    Missing the Senate vote is a trivial issue for presidential candidates, especially those who are not well-known nationwide and thus need the time to know the people better and let the people know them better. One can tally the ratio of missed notes by all previous and current candidates. I once read that Kerry missed almost all his notes in the last quarter before the primary.

    To address why Obama missed the Iran vote, I cut and paste information below provided by other bloggers, which seems credible.

    –The record says:

    'Mr. REID. Mr. Chairman, there will be no more votes tonight. We have tried to work something out on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment and the Biden amendment. We have been unable to do that.

    We have been very close a few times, but we have just been informed that Senator Biden will not have a vote anytime in the near future. There will not be a vote on the other one anytime in the near future. We hope tonight will bring more clearness on the issue.'

    Presidential contenders have many out-of-town commitments. For those who are sitting senators, they change their campaign schedule when they do know an important vote is coming up but otherwise they will pursue their campaign plans."

    –end record

    That was on the Tuesday night on which the vote had been scheduled. Obama was there for it. After Reid's statement, he left for NH. Reid's office called him the next day in NH and told him the vote would be held in one hour. There was no way that he could fly back in an hour even on a private jet.

    November 3, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. jmaya, iowa

    Obama Machine is to talk only and do nothing people need to know. Hillary does flip flop some time but this person has been in politics so long and it's not easy to make straight judgment. People make mistakes and she makes too.

    But any politician who doesn't attend 80% in senate for vote need to be punished. Why to pay public money who doesn't work.


    November 3, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Tere, FL

    Where's Obama?
    Busy making sure flip-flopping, pandering, phony, calculated, poor debater, evasive Hillary is not elected president

    November 3, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. monica, rochester new york

    Perhaps the country would be better off if Hillary missed a few more votes, she always seems to be on the wrong side of the vote anyway.

    Obama WAS present for the Kyl-leiberman Iranian guard vote, Harry Reid pulled it off the floor and said the vote would be delayed. Once Obama left for NH the next day Reid put it back on the floor 24 hours later. Reid's son, a Hillary supporter, was responsible for notifying Obama about the vote but only told him 1 hour before the vote after he left for NH.

    The point is, when Hillary has a chance to make a decision she shows lack of judgment.

    November 3, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. Mike Longview, TX

    Hillary refuses to bash either Obama or Edwards. As a lifelong Democrat, she is more and more my candidate with every debate as she points out what a debacle the whole Bush/Cheney administration has been now for nearly 7 years! The next time Obama criticizes Hillary's vote regarding Iran, I just wish she would say, "At least I was there to vote, unlike you!" Obama was informed that the vote was to take place the evening before and he was in the Northeast and could have made it to the Senate floor, but chose to continue campaigning. Is there even a choice? I think not!
    HILLARY '08

    November 3, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. Arshad, Newburgh, NY

    Jim Bremer,
    This man is so outstanding, so inspiring and so much of idealism. He is not pretending MLK but he is influenced by him. He is also influenced by Lincoln and JFK. This man's life can back up what he is talking about. He might not know what happens in White House but he knows what happens in ordinary people's house. He spent years on extremely poor neighborhood, helping people who in need. He has been tested on streets of Chicago's southside what it means to be people who are suffering in this country. Don't discount this man's authenticity. You won't take a job paying 13k/year when 6 figures offers are available. You don;t do it at the age of mid twenties unless you really believe in the cause, unless you have genuine passion for people.

    Can change happen in this country? History is the witness, Jim. Slavery was ended when many believed not possible. Segregation ended same way. Blacks and women earned right to vote same way. When people called for those changes, many like you believed it was not possible. But people dared to dream and acted on those dreams and made great things possible in this country.

    Obama is the new dream of 21st century. The new face America to the world, trnascending through the brick walls of race, religion, ethnicity, and geography and trying to make this country and the world a better place. You can be cynical about change and bad mouth about it. Or you can be a believer and be a part of the movement to make the change. Choice is your. Ofcourse some of us choose the latter.

    November 3, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    You noticed how this crap was framed. 80% since September. Why did they start from September, because if they start from January it will not be impressive. Missed 8 out of 10 votes, big deal.

    You also noticed most of the post are from the Hilary camp. Hilary and his gang are like mafias, they are corrupt and want to win at any cost.

    Hilary is freaking Joke and she is corrupt. How in the world did she turn $50,000 investment in the cattle futures into millions withins months.

    You guys are stupid and sick.

    November 3, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. Esther, Virginia

    And Hillary missed over 60%...biased reporting???? I think so...he's got my vote.

    November 3, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. TheInsider

    "Obama is the new dream of 21st century. The new face America to the world,"
    Posted By Arshad, Newburgh, NY : November 3, 2007 12:46 pm

    Nothing in politics is more dangerous than the, "Cult of Personality", which your cloying, fawning, hero-worshiping posts exemplify.
    Believing that your hero can do no wrong is a guarantee that he will...

    November 3, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. TheInsider

    You guys are stupid and sick.
    Posted By Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH : November 3, 2007 1:18 pm

    I'm sorry to burst your little bubble, but if you read the thread even YOU would be able to see how bad Obama's record is, whatever parameters you choose...

    November 3, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. Dave, Queens NY

    Of all the Senators currently running for President, Obama has missed the second fewest votes:

    McCain: 52.6%
    Biden: 34.7%
    Dodd: 33.3%
    Obama: 33%
    Clinton: 17.4%

    November 3, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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