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. DJ in TX

    I'm a supporter. This is what is needed – real partnership with government and teh communities. Not stating that government is going to fix everything, but getting communites together to invest in themselves.

    July 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. Patrick

    He's getting this straight out of McCain's playbook. However good ideas are good ideas and I am glad Obama is pushing this as well. It's funny b/c what made McCain so popular with young, independent voters in 2000 (he was the Obama of that election) was his call for national service. I wish all the young voters who are so overwhelmingly for Obama would take a second look at McCain. The man has stood for bi-partisanship his whole career, and many of the attributed that we like about Obama, McCain exhimphlifies and then some.

    July 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Way to win

    Hopefully, in Nov, the votes will count- and not speeches, not hype, not self-promotion, not boastfulness, not slick campaigning, not the strategy of hate against fellow democrats, and not race-card playing.

    Here is to the inprobable, inconceivable and unlikely LOSS for the democrats this Nov.

    Who thinks they can win by installing their least known, least tested, least qualified, most radical, internet wiz candidate who skillfully divided his own party by playing the race card?

    July 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Obama/Hillary 08

    I wonder if Joe Liberman is the one that is going to launches the new terror attack. Please stop scaring people for political reason. America, it is not true no terror attack in 2009. If there is one Joe Lieberman and the Republican Party is behind it.

    July 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Mary (Florida)

    I am so glad to hear him talk about the wasted opportunity after 9/11. It was a pivotal moment none of us will forget, and our "leader" told us to "go the Disney World" That was when I knew we were in for even worse trouble than I'd thought.

    We have to change our mindset! We face many complicated challenges and each of us needs to do our part. Give us the ideas. Challenge us. We are Americans, and that means much more than capitalism and war.

    It also means more than writing a check.

    July 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Gail, MN

    It feels great to be on a winning team. Now if Congress would just get their act together.

    Obama 08

    July 2, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Let me repeat myself- I've earned it

    This is the sad saga of the democratic primary: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 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. no mccain

    go ahaed barrack,you are doing just ffine.

    July 2, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Fella from Chicago

    Ah, already thought of and implemented decades ago. It was called VISTA and it's overseas counterpart was and still is the Peace Corps created by JFK. But your Holiness, the populace who support you think this is an original idea that you came up with and that's all that matters. I won't tell them who you plagiarized the idea from. May your un-original Word continue to spread throughout the lands. Presidential; gag!!

    July 2, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Lisa, from Ohio

    "takes aim at the Bush administration's for failing to take advantage of the post-9/11 opportunity to call the nation to service."

    You know, I'm by no means a Bush supporter, but I have to say that he DID do this, on some level. Bush spoke at my university commencement ceremony and his entire speech was about service on all levels of society.

    It's an important thing for communities around the nation, and I praise Obama for addressing it, too, since it's been forgotten by so many.

    July 2, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. Kirk, DC

    I am already serving considering all the taxes I pay... Obama lives in lalaland...

    July 2, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. John

    This is what we need. Not only Americans will respond to Obama's clarion call. The entire world will rally behind him. Obama will give a positive face to America once again. Then it will be good riddance to fist thumping and cowboy posturing. An Obama presidency will be the greatest public relations coup that any nation will have pulled in the world. Way to go Obama! God bless America and God bless America and God bless America . . . !

    July 2, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. MMN - Milwaukee WI

    Even former VP Dan Quayle can't spell POTATO, but he can sure read the writing on the wall (Daniel 5:5)

    July 2, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Brian

    Barack, please explain why you support exempting the telecom companies from giving out private information, now. During the primaries you said you would oppose this, and even filibuster against it, and now [as of this week] you say you will vote for it. What's this about change "you can believe in"? You are flip-flopping all over the place nowadays, who is going to trust your word... not me. "Public finance? Oh no, I don't support that anymore, I am the nominee now"... give me a break. Time for the Obama supporters [who never even had heard of him before December] to see his true colors. A typical and traditional politician, that's what he is.

    July 2, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. Jay

    Nice try..you have no clue what your Doing.

    The people who voted for this nut will be sorry come Novemeber when he lost. You should have voted for HIllary!!

    July 2, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. wiser

    Call to patriotism and national service. Sorry Senator Obama, wearing a flag pin and other symbols does not make one a patriot.

    Maybe teaching your family to be proud of America would be the best start. You can't fool all the the people all of the time. Your actions speak louder than your words, words, words!

    Democrats for McCain!

    July 2, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. THE O

    This is so refreshing. What did bush do ask americans to do just go shoping. Obama shows great leadership and we have not had any for the last 8 years........

    BARACK THE VOTE!!!!!!

    BARACK SEBELIUS 08

    July 2, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. another one out the dem door

    This man and his ugly hateful wife have stained the life blood of the democratic party.

    Race baiting and labeling all their detractors as racist.

    Lying and trashing, mocking and jeering, demeaning and denigrating the other candidate of your own party.

    Inspiring your cult followers into vile, vulgar nasty insults and attacks against other democrats.

    Threatening to stay home and black out the vote if He was not the eventual party nominee.

    I guess that is the way of the NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

    That is why millions of life long democrats like myself were forced to defect from the party we once loved and were loyal to.

    You do not win by cheating. You do not advance yourself by destroying the other democratic candidate. You do not achieve unity by division. You do not inspire hope by waging insults and hate.

    July 2, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. Lenin

    This guy is sounding more and more like Lenin and Marx

    July 2, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. no mccain

    go ahead barack,you are doing just fine.

    July 2, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. vicki

    Barack will be the greatest President.

    July 2, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Alex

    Oh great! Now he's gonna re-invent the wheel and they'll try to give him credit for that. Well guess what folks.....citizens in the real world have been volunteering in their communities for years in many many areas. They do so to help shore up specialize duties so those trained professionals can spend more time doing what they need to do for their communities and our country. Its a good and wonderful thing when people care, but this isn't revolutionary like Obama and some would have us believe. Many of us have do it simply because we care for our country and have since long before Barrack Obama was just a glitter in his Daddy's eye!

    July 2, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. smart1

    I am ready and willing to serve my country and my community through volunteering my services. Not just because he wants us to but because that is the fabric upon which this great country was built. It's a showing of brotherlylove and without it we would never get things done.

    Obama the humanitarian for President

    July 2, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. New Founding Father Obama

    And if you do not serve, I will take your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

    July 2, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. Lim

    To paraphase a former VP candidate: We know JFK and you ain't no JFK...

    The DNC and Obama campaign really believe that they have a nice package of empty suites and hot air.

    July 2, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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