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. Nova from NV

    A lot of people are going to love this because it sounds good. But how can a lot of people serve if they are worried about how to pay their mortgage or fill-up their cars. Mr. Obama, I know you don't have any specific plans to help the American people in need NOW, but distracting them from the important issues is very sad.

    July 2, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. charles

    CNN were is the news about McCain saying he never said he does not know anything about the economy. please be fair and report on his flip flop. he said it this morning. lts your job to lnform us. lf it was Obama who had flip flopped something so obvious you would have been the first to report. be fair and bring it up. thank you.

    July 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Weird wisdom from the DNC

    In their wisdom the DNC capitulated to the celebrities, the media, AAs and the youth who selected the nominee for the democratic party.

    The DNC and super delegates then did THEIR part to swiftboat the best Democratic candidate and installed Obama.

    So the least qualified and least electable Democratic candidate is our party nominee.

    Just because the sentiment is that this year NO democrat can lose, and no Republican can win.

    Then why is Obama barely leading in the polls?

    You mean that all Americans will not simply vote for the big "D". You mean character, trust, the issues and who the candidate IS actually matters, after all?

    You mean the type of dirty, pandering, flip-flopping, self-aggrandizing campaign of hate that Obama waged does matter after all?

    People dislike the hypocritical Obama and his pandering for votes so much, that EVEN a poor choice like McCain from the republicans may actually win?

    Why- even in a year when a Democratic victory is almost ensured- would the party choose (install) the least qualified, most dubious, untested DEMOCRATIC candidate of them all?

    July 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. Kenneth

    Watch this service become mandatory, with the government controlling your life. Only the uneducated support Obama. That is why when you ask any of them what has he done as an elected official you only hear crickets chirping.

    The only thing Obama supporters can say in their defense is "Change we can believe in", "Yes, we can". They are sheep blindly following a cult.

    July 2, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. dj

    He's a fake and is just another politician pandering for votes.

    July 2, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Nick

    Good move Barack. Your idea seems reminisent of Bill's creation of Americore. You would be wise to use his arcitype, as he has been the only successful democratic president in recent history. Now all you need is to adopt Hillary's healthcare plan.

    July 2, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Margaret

    One problem with the program I see outlined here is that it is still heavy on militarism. The truth is that "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" are natural rights belonging to all on this planet, and when we finally have a foreign policy that recognizes that fact, one that requires treating people all over the world with REAL respect, then we'll no longer want or need such a heavy military presence throughout the world. I do hope the CHANGE that Senator (and hopefully President) Obama talks about will go that deep.

    July 2, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Rob

    the first question i always have is: HOW are we gonna pay for that??

    Rob from NC

    July 2, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Obama's campaign strategy

    The Country is in a really bad way: unpopular president, anti-republican sentiment, lack of health care, a sinking economy, an unpopular war.

    This is a prime time for the democrats to retake the white house.

    Any democrat can win against any Republican- especially old and feeble McCain with luke warm backing from his own party.

    A sure win for the Democrats.

    So... lets trash, bash the best Democratic Candidate out of the running. Lets strong-arm and threaten our way to a lead. Let's paint both Clintons and all their supporters as racist. Lets lie, cheat and steal the nomination. Let's demand the superdelegates pick ME, Obama the great as the nominee.

    After all... a democratic victory this year is a given- a sure thing. So Even I, with no experience, no qualifications, no service to my country, no fixed positions on anything, a gift of gab, a smooth way of flip-flopping, and a nice smile- can take back the white house JUST BECAUSE I AM THE ONLY DEMOCRAT LEFT STANDING- after my hideous ,ugly, divisive campaign of hate.

    July 2, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. mitchell hussein martin

    it's certainly a good thing to see someone speaking on the real issues.obama has been the most consistent candidate for pres,that i've seen ,in my lifetime.it's sad that republicans will be fomenting racial hatred,and bigotry, to try and win this election.oh well,mccain will never last 4 years,as the stresses of the presidency will be too much for the old guy to handle,and then we can all be thrilled to death ,at having mitt as president.

    July 2, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Josh Maloney, Oakland, CA

    This is one of the distinguishing factors between Obama and McCain. Obama demonstrates stronger leadership with continued committment to involve the American people in his change efforts.

    July 2, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Ken

    That program will give graduates a chance to earn some real experience in the workplace and pay down loans at the same time, Common sense is pretty common with this Guy Obama,

    Obama 08

    July 2, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. jack

    Sounds like Barrack is going to throw down the challenge just like JFK did in his speech. "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

    Not since the 80's and "Gordon Gecko's , Greed is Good" motto has someone started looking at what that has done to this country. It is not about what "WE" can get but what "WE" give to others that matters.

    I hope Barrack is the leader that can lead us out of the darkness and fear and into the light of helping and giving to others.

    July 2, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. C from Texas


    Wonder how many of you democrats are going to be so happy when he re-instates the DRAFT?

    Read between the lines folks this guy is bad news.

    McCain '08

    July 2, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. Jeremy

    Picking up where McCain left off in 2000.
    Thank you Barack.

    July 2, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Big Magical Sandwich

    Obama has actual plans and policies that will help fix this country's broken government. Every time he makes a speech about how he is going to go about making things better he becomes more and more clearly the appropriate nominee for this country. Keep it up, senator. After reading the current New York Times article on job loss, we need you more than ever.

    Obama 08 – For the good of the nation.

    July 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. scotty

    So he is going to make jobs for people that get there student loans and whatever paid for and then he is having them do community service . he mentioned this in the primary, sounds like national guarde service for a education..We already jave that but no ine joins cause they dont want to go to Iraq........this looks like a backdoor scam to me. In the past in MN we tried to get welfare resept to work for there cash and surprisingly many where aginst it and complained . good for him lets see if and how he does it but I would advise all to really listen to what he has planned. Communism gives you a job also.

    July 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. Wisconsin

    Obama is perfectly on point with this idea!

    Go Obama

    July 2, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. New Yorker

    Wow- how original- "Thousand points of light" ring a bell? BO is now stealing from George HW Bush. Change must refer to changing the name of an idea and claiming it new.

    McCain 08
    Substance trumps Hype

    July 2, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. Levar HUSSIEN Patterson

    For the first time in my life.... i feel like I would serve in a United States Army.... but I cant cuz I am a felon... but lord knows, If I had known that Barack Obama would be president, I would've never messed that up for myself. But I am sure there are ready to serve in the army with Barack Obama as Commander In Chief.

    Obama/Clinton 08

    July 2, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Harold

    If there is ever an example of someone looking out for the "little guy" in small businesses, in substandard communities, people suffering from poverty and unemployment opportunities, it is OBAMA.

    July 2, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. No longer a democrat after 35 years

    No republican can win this year.
    No Democrat can lose this year.
    Nation is a mess. We all want change.
    The economy sucks, people can't afford health care, we die and kill in Iraq.

    Still the DNC- with the help of the media and celebrities- decided they could win by installing their weakest, most questionable, most left wing, least qualified, least known, untested and untrusted Candidate.

    A field of highly qualified democratic choices- the BEST candidate, Hillary EVER to lead this nation out of the abyss of decay.

    BUT NO!!!!! We have to feel good and push the African American and trash, bash, destroy the female candidate.

    And feel gleeful and happy to do so.... after all what better time than THIS election... when ANY democrat, no matter how unworthy of the office of president... can win.

    I hope Obama loses and the party and the hateful Obama supporters learn the lesson of democracy and fair politics.

    July 2, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. HH

    The republicans must be getting desperate. They are down to their light weight politicians (J McCain & M Romney). These are politicians that could never get elected in any other election year. They are usually the losers in the primaries.

    July 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. John McCain

    All your bases is belonging to us. Plese someone can show me the computer to make Iran go boom-boom.

    July 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. randy

    Yes we can, mr president.

    July 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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