July 2nd, 2008
09:45 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama highlights plan for national service

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/30/art.obamaflag.gi.jpg caption="Obama has been looking to emphasize national service."]
(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled a plan to create volunteer and service opportunities to help tackle some of the nation's most pressing issues, part of his weeklong focus on patriotism and national service.

"This won't be a call issued in one speech or one program - I want this to be a central cause of my presidency," Obama said in a speech at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

"We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges."

He added, "When you choose to serve - whether it's your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood - you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That's why it's called the American dream."

Obama highlighted his time as a community organizer on Chicago's South Side and his stint heading Project Vote, a group that helped register 150,000 new African-American voters in the Illinois city, according to his campaign.

"I wasn't just helping other people. Through service, I found a community that embraced me; citizenship that was meaningful; the direction I'd been seeking. Through service, I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of America," he said.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also touched on the "spirit" of service witnessed after the September 11, 2001, attacks and take aim at the Bush administration's failure to capitalize on this opportunity to call Americans to service.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (257 Responses)
  1. Luke

    I would gladly serve my country and fellow americans if you are president. I don't think I could trust another candidate to make that sacrifice. certainly not bush.

    July 2, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    this is a FABULOUS idea!

    it will be such a nice change from the ugly divisiveness we've lived with the past 8 years thanks to this ugly, divisive administration!

    it will do the people of this country some good to start helping each other out!

    and he is right on about bush's reaction to 9/11, it takes a REALLY ugly person to turn ALL of that sympathy and empathy from around the world into hatred! he is such a dumb@$$, i cannot wait until he and the prince of darkness are GONE and moved to Dubai!

    July 2, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. enomisa

    Many Democrats and other Americans now see Obama as exactly for what he is- a fraud.

    Just a slick politician with a Monkey see, monkey do internet propaganda marketing myth.

    Just a gimmick with a hype of hope message.

    The only change has been Obama changing his position on every issue since he "won" (stole) the nomination.

    There was never any hope in his ugly, hateful campaign of gutting the other democratic candidate just to get himself installed as the nominee.

    July 2, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. dave g, Minneapolis

    Why can't we see anything new? What about Ameri-corps? this has all been talked about and done before. This is how he's going to fix America?

    If as many people actually went out and volunteered as are supporting Obama, there would be no problems. It doesn't take this wonderfully enlightened politician to tell us that. So now he'll spend more tax money trying to create a new volunteer organization.

    Get out and volunteer on your own...it doesn't take the Federal government to spend money "organizing"...just do it. Help your neighbor ON YOUR OWN. pick up trash in the park ON YOUR OWN. help a houseless person ON YOUR OWN. Stop waiting for the government to be your nanny to say what's ok.

    If people aren't volunteering now, there is a reason and a government program won't make things better. Get your individual freedom back and spark your own volunteer program...

    In Liberty!
    Barr in '08

    July 2, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Clinton Fringer

    Uh oh young Obamanites. You might have to work for those promises? Hmmmm........ease the burden of our troops? Do I read "draft" between those lines?

    July 2, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. give me a break

    Oh give me a break.
    With prices on everything hitting the sky, this clown, Obama, expects citizens now to volunteer and spend time WORKING FOR NOTHING??????
    How about starting out by cutting Senators salaries in half.
    That should put some money in the coffers.

    July 2, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Jeff

    This is what america needs. Great work Mr. Obama

    July 2, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  8. Peter E

    Great idea: volunteer to serve!
    Now if Obama would get back to the senate and do the job that our taxpayer money is paying him to do (he missed one out of every three!!! votes during the primaries compared to Clinton's one out of every six) then we might actually believe he means what he says!

    July 2, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Abby

    Sacrifice and hard work!!! That is how the rest of the world caught up to us and now it's time for us to pull ahead under the leadership of this visionary man.

    July 2, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Steve

    JFK created the Peace Corps, which sends young people to help other countries in need. It was and is an overall success. Now our own country needs help (thanks to 8 years of Republican shenanigans). An "internal" Peace Corps is a great idea. Do something positive for your country! When I retire in a few years, I will probably join. Good idea Mr. Obama!

    July 2, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. Peter E

    And exactly who is he to criticize Bush for not encouraging people to serve after 9/11? Or I guess the armed forces defending our country don't count as service anymore in the eyes of democrats?
    Hypocrite!

    July 2, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. Concerned INDEPENDENT CT voter

    I wish there was more motivation to get involved in my community when i was in college... There weren't even rally's like there are now... i think this sounds great

    -V

    July 2, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Justwannaknow

    I just want to know ...... where are McCain's iniitiatives? More specifically what is his vision of and for America ?

    July 2, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Marcus B

    Absolutely INCREDIBLE!!!!!

    OBAMA/SEBELIUS 08!!!!!

    July 2, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Casual observer

    This was a great article...until Obama and his slimy team decided the link President Bush into it. It makes no sense except to Obamabots. fyi, Bush created a 10% tax bracket for the poorest on the scale, is that a tax cut to the wealthy?

    We need to stick to real issues, don't understand why the Democrats are afraid to talk about the issues.

    July 2, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Peter E

    So... when Bush recruits more military personel that doesn't count as 'encouraging service.' But when Obama proposes to do that he's 'showing great leadership?'

    July 2, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. Sharon Kitchen

    very good.

    July 2, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Never Obama

    Obama is becoming more and more like Bush:

    First unqualified, no service to Country and no resume but still daring to run for president.

    Then cocky, boastful, mocking and jeering of anyone who disagreed. In Obama's case he turned all that against fellow democrats- HRC, Bill and all the HRC supporters.

    Then the self-impressed and full of himself commentary.

    Then all the lies, hypocrisy and pandering- and empty promises of unity and change- while actually dividing the party and the people.

    Then all this expanded funding for faith-based initiatives crap. There is separation of Church and state for a reason: to preserve our liberties and freedoms while securing the same for others of different religions and beliefs.

    July 2, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. Peter E

    Well, at least he's finally talking about an issue instead of wasting our time pretending to be the victim of the world. That's an improvement...

    July 2, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. JESSIE

    Obama is clearly the leader for this country. Obama is the candidate that cares about ordinary Americans and our economy. Obama will make a great president and I'm glad he's has a plan and wants to talk about the issues that Americans are concerned about unlike Mccain that doesn't want to talk about the issues. Obama 08

    July 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Here it comes the clincher. Do a meaningless service for a pitifully small amount of time to make it appear as if the government is requiring some sweat equity and a stake in all of my tax money they are giving you for just being born.

    If you want a free lunch...Uncle Obama is now going to lay out the dues you have to pay to get it.

    Why not eliminate the government middle man–and get your own butts in gear? It would should save us taxpayers some pain and suffering.

    July 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. dave g, Minneapolis

    oh, and "enabling more Americans to serve in the military!?!" how is that an initiative. There's certainly nothing holding back recruiters from recruiting...they are struggling to maintain recruitment levels.
    Does this enabling mean increasing military spending? increasing benefits such as signing. Or does it mean reducing standards to let anyone in?

    I've served in the military. The only thing that a person needs to be enabled to do is go to the recruiter, not have done drugs or have a criminal record (though that too can be waived). There's nothing holding back people from serving if they want to.

    Barr in '08

    July 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. The Bu

    As the idiotic Republican spin machine wants to discuss Iraq and Gen. Clark, the true presidential-material candidate is laying out his plans for this nation. They're so stuck on stupid that they just continue to lambast him as just giving another speech. I've got a newsflash: THE PRESIDENT COMMUNICATES WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THROUGH SPEECHES!!! Go ahead Barack Hussein Obama! Do your thing and march right into the White House along with your beautiful wife and beautiful daughters come January '09. We are praying for you. Surround yourself with the right people and you will do a world of good for this nation and the world.

    July 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Sully

    The obvious question – who's going to pay for this!

    July 2, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. James, SC

    When will this man learn that the American people DO NOT want the truth, they want warm and fuzzy no matter how stupid it sounds. They want a useless gas tax holiday that will not happen. They want a 300 million dollar contest that no one will enter and a purse that does not exist. They want a war that they are willing to pay for (500 billion and counting), but they are not willing to pay for a child-care program (25 million). They want to start another war in Iran that involves millions of lives, but they are not willing to pay for a war on poverty in the USA. They are will to give tax cuts worth billions of dollars to corporations that refuse to produce in the USA, but are willing to sell their goods in the USA. They are willing to support free trade of goods coming from other countries, but think it is okay for those countries to tax our goods. They are willing to vote a man in as President of the USA because he is white even though his policies will hurt us over a man whose policies will help us because he appears black.

    Obama is naive because he believes that the American people are open and objective to what is right and live above fear; and reach for the full possibilities that are available for Americans.

    Obama is stupid because he believes that Americans care about their future and the future for their children and nation.

    Obama is plain old dumb because he gives a crap.

    I could never vote for a person like him because he wants America to be better.

    I am voting for the way of life that I know, no matter how bad it gets. I don't care how far we fall. All that is important to me is that that black man does not get in the Whitehouse.

    July 2, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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