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. SZ

    Next week he'll be against it.

    July 2, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Michele Hussein, Oregon

    So Important. So needed. Wonderful how he gathers us for the good. Can't wait to see the Obama family in the White House!

    Obama '08 !

    July 2, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Anita from Arizona

    Well spoken, Senator Obama. You have my 100% support. Yes We Can!!

    July 2, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Jay, NM

    Typical Obama tall talk with no specifics. How do you expand? Yes we can!

    July 2, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. S-Man

    I can see his "vision". It's bad for the US if he is not the next persident. Go Obama '08!!!!

    July 2, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    I have personally felt for many years that every American should be required to serve the country for at least two years right out of high school, preferably in the military. Something similar to the requirements in Israel. It just makes sense to me.

    After that two years, they can go on to college or whatever, but national service of some kind should be required and every American child should be proud and happy to offer up that kind of service to the country that provides them with so many opportunities.

    July 2, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. NObama

    He will need Americans to really volunteer for national service, as the rest of his policies will throw this nation into a 1930's style depression.

    This man is a lunatic.

    July 2, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Stephanie

    Wouldn't it be great if volunteer service were to be rewarded through tax incentives. How to prove time served - well that would be difficult. But if one volunteers time, they would be most appreciative of some token of a tax credit. And it would be a wonderful way to increase volunteerism-even if the motivating force might be less than ideal.

    July 2, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Rick NC

    This is the definition of leadership. Being out front and making a bold stand to benefit all of the people of this country not just the ones you like or voted for you or your party.

    July 2, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. ericmiami

    Poor Angus! Still clinging to that less-than 30% group that loves Bush. Obama will bring us together, even pitiful Angus!
    Eric Hussein Miami

    July 2, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. Peg Pierce

    Barack Obama is going to be an outstanding, history making President. All segments of our society will benefit from his proposed programs. I'm proud to be one of the older generation voters supporting him!!

    July 2, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. John

    Iowa is Blue for Obama, We Love you here, go ahead and put it in books. Its not even going to be close.

    July 2, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    To be very honest, both Barack and McCain have released a number of ideas for the coming years. I think that Barack's ideas show more of a bottom up approach which will help all while John's ideas are more of a trickle down which help the elite few and may eventually work its way down to the rest of us.

    July 2, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Tired of W, OH

    I don't see how all the haters (a.k.a. republicans) could possibly spin this as a bad thing, but I'm sure I'll find out.

    July 2, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. Vig

    I think the operative word here is "ambitious". That pretty much sums up Mr. Change who overnight has become an expert on everything. That alone should give the nation pause. Gender bias has given voice to this smiley faced neophyte while silencing Hillary Clinton's voice as soon as she said she had found it. Reject the Flipity-Flop Boys, McCain & Obama. Join Write-In's for Hillary and print her name as your candidate of choice on the November ballot. Restore Hillary's place in history and put a leader in the White House.

    July 2, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  16. Debby, NJ

    Obama is very Presidental !!!
    Barack the Vote

    July 2, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. GENE

    Hello all

    Good for Obama. Here is what I think about his VP pick.

    Hello all

    Here are some more political points.

    Nancy Pelosi was 68 years old in March. If she serves 8 years as VP she will be 76.
    That is usually thought of as too old to run for President so this leaves open the possibility for Clinton to run 8 years from now when she will be 68/69.

    Kathleen Sebelius was born in May of 1948. She is 60 years old and only about one years difference from Clinton in 8 years. The Clintons (who are still powerful) do not want to run against a sitting Democratic Vice President. They will try to posion the well if Obama picks someone as young as Sebelius and Obama should know that.

    The third factor is the Obama does not want Hillary and Bill on the ticket and in his hair for 8 years, but he needs a woman and a Roman Catholic (who happens to be an Aries Sun)

    Gene Ray
    Back to top

    July 2, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Richard

    Sounds like he wants to spend more money on social programs that will make some people happy to get votes from them. voluntary service to our country is a good thing. Most people will not volunteer to do any thing unless there is something in it for them. But to start these things going takes money and taxing the so called rich to fund them seems to be real popular with people that are not . Back in the late 70's and early 80's taxing the rich was real popular as well. The only problem was at a 60 percent plus tax rate that made it very hard for rich people to make any money at their business. Instead of continuing to push their business they took their money and put it somewhere else like banks and other investments. They closed their companies down and layed off their workers.Around here there were empty buildings everywhere and jobs were scarse. I do not want to go back to that. People with lots of money are going to protect their capital and not worry a lot about you. Remember you work for these people and you want to be paid too.

    July 2, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. william spivey

    Mr President, this is a Fist-Bumper.

    Obama 08/12

    July 2, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. John in Ohio

    Why hasn't Obama yet agreed to a debate with McCain?

    Is it because in 2004 there were no debates until after the respective party conventions, with the first presidential debate being held in September?

    Is it because both nominees are still the "presumptive" nominees of their respective parties?

    Actually, that's probably it. In fact (and I know this will break the heart of McCain supporters just looking for something, anything, on which to attack Obama) the last two presidential elections only had 4 debates each. There were 3 presidential debates and 1 vice presidential debate. In 2000, the first debate was on October 3rd, and they were all wrapped up by October 17th. In 2004, the first debate was on September 30th. In 1996, there were only 2 debates, both in October.

    In fact, in the entire history of televised presidential debates (going back to Kennedy versus Nixon in 1960), there has never been a presidential debate earlier then September 23rd.

    So why do so many screeching strident McCain supporters want to have debates earlier? Why do they want to fill the months between now and november with an endless series of monotonous debates? Oh, that's right, it's because McCain has no money and needs the free publicity and the free airtime.

    Aw, too bad.

    July 2, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. Kelby from Houston, TX

    This guy is great.
    But, where are all of the detractors?
    Where are those stupid neo-cons?
    What happened to the bitter Hillary voter that was going to vote for McCain because their candidate didn't win?
    Did they wake up and realize they nor their children would get universal healthcare with him?
    Did they remember what Hillary was running for?

    July 2, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. kerd

    Wow! A Presidential candidate I can really feel good about. This man makes me want to be a better citizen and serve my country.

    July 2, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  23. brenda

    i hate when ive got to something to say and then comments become closed for certain articles. i will say it here about the japanese ad.
    the japanese ad folks didnt know that it would be considered racist...YEA RIGHT !!!
    Just like obama didnt know tbout the bad, offensive and racist and anti america stuff that rev wright was saying for 20 years. if you go back in all of obamas speeches you will hear the exact opposite of what he is saying today. its okay to befriend chris rock and "like" him regardless of the fgact that he talks very bad about white folks but obama would have imus fired for calling girls names. he wants guns he doesnt wnat guns hes for abortion if his daughter gets pregmant but values human life? his state has more nuclear plants than any other but he is anti nuclear power, he wants gas price to go up but at a "gradual pace" and not suddenly. im just waiting for the rev obama to sart telling this country what his view of christianity is because thats what we will all have to follow if he becomes the president and if you ever want to make more of yourself than you already are than you can bet that obama will find a way to tax it. the man has NO original ideas or thoughts. he cherry picks from the clinto playbook and even presdient bush, adds a little to it then tells his followers that this is the way. the man is a nobody, certainly not MLK or JFK. his friends (wright, ayers, rezco) are his friends for a reason...they ALL SHARE the same ideals. so if you dont know onbama, look at his friends and they will define him.

    July 2, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Dr. Bob

    Obama is an idiot. You NObamanots better wake up before you ruin America!!!!!!

    July 2, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Kathy in Oregon

    I supported Hillary, and was trying to get behind Obama for the sake of the party, but I have LESS confidence in Obama the more I see him in action — he is really blowing it with his flip-flop / finger to the wind approach to politics.

    At this point, I don't know what Obama stands for — other than trying to get HIMSELF elected. In contrast, 4 years of McCain doesn't look so bad. I mean at least McCain appears to be a MAN of principle and character!

    July 2, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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