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Obama at Saddleback

Warren opens by laying out the ground rules. One candidate at a time. The candidates will be asked the same questions. Obama will go first, McCain is being kept "in a cone of silence" somewhere backstage.

I'm going to transcribe as it goes, my quotes may not be exactly accurate. I will do my best.

The first four minutes are going to focus on "leadership."
"Who are three wisest people you know in your life and who are you going to rely on heavily in your administration?"
Obama says his wife, Michelle because she is "somebody who can get up in your face and say you really screwed that one up."  His grandmother because "she's just a very grounded, common-sense no-fuss, no-frills kinda person." He won't restrict himself for administrative issues. He mentions Sam Nunn and Tom Coburn. Coburn is an odd choice. Obama compared Coburn to a terrorist in a previous debate.
"What would be the greatest moral failure in your life and the greatest moral failure in America?"
Obama says he would break his life into stages. Mentions experimenting with drugs and drinking because of a "certain selfishness on my part, I was so obsessed with me and the reasons I might be dissatisfied I couldn't focus on other people." He says America's greatest moral failure is "we still don't abide by that basic precept of Matthew." Says it applies to poverty, racism and sexism.
Can you give me an example of when you went against party loyalty and your best interests for the good of America?
Obama says he worked with McCain on ethics reform. Mentions his work on campaign finance reform.  Brings up his decision to oppose the war in Iraq when he was considering making a run for the U.S. Senate.
What's the most significant position you held ten years ago that you don't hold today, that you've flipped on because you've changed your mind?

Obama says welfare reform. "I was much more concerned ten years ago when President Clinton originally signed the bill that it would have disastrous worked better than I think a lot of people anticipated."

What does it mean to trust in Jesus Christ?
"Means those sins that I have on a fairly regular basis will be washed away." Means "Acting justly, loving mercy and walking humble."
[Abortion question] At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?
"I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a religious perspective answering that question with that specificity is above my pay grade." Now he wants to speak more generally. Says it's a "moral and ethical issue."
"I am pro-choice, I believe in Roe v. Wade...because ultimately I don't believe women make these decisions casually."
Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions?
"I am in favor of limits on late term abortions if there are limits put in for the mother's health." Goes on, "If you believe life begins at conception and you are consistent in that belief then I can't argue with you on that." Doesn't answer the question.
Define marriage.
"Marriage is the union between a man and a woman."
Would you support a constitutional amendment with that definition
"I would not."
Why not?
"Historically we have not defined marriage in our Constitution...I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions." Says civil unions doesn't threaten the institution of marriage.

Would you support federal funding for embryonic research?
Yes, "in a careful way." Says "it's not like people who are in favor are thinking let's go and destroy some embryos." There was a gasp in the audience. He sounded way to casual talking about this.
Does evil exist and if it does do we ignore it, negotiate, contain or defeat it?
"Evil does exist. We see evil in Darfur, we see evil sadly on the streets of our cities, we see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children." Says it's God's task to defeat evil but we can be "God's soldiers." Calls for humility. Says "A lot of evil as been perpetrated on the basis" we were trying to contain evil. This is a thinly-veiled jab at the Bush adminstration.
Which existing Supreme Court Justice would you have NOT nominated?
Says Clarence Thomas because Obama thinks he wasn't prepared. Says he would not nominate Scalia although he doesn't doubt his "intellectual brilliance." Thinks Roberts has been "too eager" to give the president power.
Would you insist that faith-based organizations forfeit federal funds?
"We should have an all hands on deck approach," Obama says. "When it comes to the programs that are federally funded we have to be careful that we are not creating a situation where people are being discrimated against using federal money." Some scuffle over what happens when FBI's want to only hire people who share their religious viws.Obama says "the devil is in the details."
Do you believe in merit pay for teachers, do you think better teaches should be paid better?

Yes, that's a "concept we all should embrace."
Define "rich" for tax purposes.
"If you are making $150,000 or less as a family you are middle class, or poor" and "if you are making more than $250,'re doing well." Says "if we believe in good schools, good roads, making sure kids can go to college, making sure there's not a mountain of debt, we've got to pay for these things." Those making more than $250,000 "will see a modest tax increase" if he becomes president.

COMMERCIAL BREAK, here are my stream of concious thoughts so far. Obama blew it by saying he couldn't talk about conception because it was "above his pay grade." Couldn't say one time he's ever voted to limit abortion.Talked way too casually about embryonic stem cells. Wasn't skilled on the tax question. Stammed and stuttered way too much throughout the whole thing. Surprised he bashed Clarence Thomas so hard.

What's worth sacrificing American lives for?
Freedom, America's national interest. Mentions going to Hawaii and visiting his granfather's grave at Punchbowl and to Pearl Harbor. 
Would you be williing to consider or even committ to doing some kind of emergency plan for orphans like President Bush did for AIDS?
"It's a great idea." Says part of the plan should be "how we prevent more orphans in the first place by building up the public health infrastructure" around the world.
What should we do to end religious persecution around the world?
"Bear witness and speak out and not pretend it's not taking place." Talks abstractly about China, tolerance and says we should stop torture to give the US "moral standing."

What would you do to stop human trafficking?
"Create better more effective tools for prosecuting those who are engaged."
Tell me in a minute why you want to be President.
Talks about empathy and says the "American dream is slipping away." Says he can bring people together to solve critical problems.
What would you tell the American public if you knew there would be no repercussions?
"There is going to be a price to pay in transitioning to a more energy efficient economy" and "if we pretend everything is going to be free...we are betraying" the sense of America.

All right everyone, Obama's round is over!  I think his answers on life issues, taxes and gosh, that last answer on energy prices are what everyone will be talking about the rest of this week. And what about his first answer about Michelle? Because she would "get up in his face"---not the most flattering choice of words for sure. I bet she'll have something to say about that later tonight.

Charles Krauthammer is hammering Obama for bashing Clarence Thomas for "lack of experience" on Fox News now. Touche. Time for a new post for McCain.


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