Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) called opponents of the Senate immigration bill “racist,” strutted picket lines and said universal health care should include abortion in his last week of campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President.
Obama made these controversial remarks at a trio of campaign stops for the National Council of La Raza, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and Planned Parenthood.
On Sunday, Obama addressed the Hispanic special interest group National Council of La Raza at the Miami Beach Convention Center. There, he said that the debate over the Senate’s failed immigration bill “was both ugly and racist in a way that we haven’t seen since the struggle for civil rights.”
He told participants that both Hispanics and African Americans have struggled to get access to health care and education and quoted a telegram Martin Luther King Jr. sent to Cesar Chavez in 1968: “Our separate struggles are really one. The civil rights movement wasn’t just for African Americans.”
“It doesn't matter if that struggle involves a brown man who is badgered again and again to prove his citizenship or a black man who's pulled over because his car is too nice,” Obama explained.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.), who is also pursuing the nomination for President, headlined the NCLR event as well. Both Democrats spoke of their support for comprehensive immigration reform, universal healthcare and free in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
On July 21, Obama was in Des Moines, Iowa speaking at a rally for Council 61 of the American Federation of State and County and Municipal Employees.
“I stood on the picket line and marched with workers at the Congress Hotel in Chicago last week. I had marched with them four years earlier and I told them when I left that if they were still fighting four years from now, I'd be back on that picket line as President of the United States,” Obama told labor activists.
Obama also said that Washington “has thrown open its doors to the most anti-union, anti-worker forces we've seen in generations.”
The abortion lobby welcomed Obama at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s political organizing conference on July 17. At the Washington, D.C. event, Obama said he believed expanded insurance coverage under his proposed universal health care plan should cover “reproductive services.” Obama campaign staff later confirmed those reproductive services should include abortion.
In his speech, Obama took care to lay out his vision for the Supreme Court and touched on other issues he thought were important to women.
Indirectly referring to the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision that upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, Obama said, “We know that five men don’t know better than women and their doctors what’s best for women’s health.”
"Justice Kennedy knows many things," Obama said of the Justice who penned the Supreme Court opinion that upheld the ban, "but my understanding is that he does not know how to be a doctor."
"We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges,” Obama explained.
Of his Senate votes against the confirmation of Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, Obama said, “There is nothing wrong in voting against nominees who don't share a broader vision of what the Constitution is about.”
Obama also said it was time for the government to offer “an updated social contract” that would give women paid maternity leave and keep children in school longer, to accommodate working mothers’ schedules.