Barack Obama says he's "had enough."
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois was the main speaker Saturday night in Columbus at a $150-a-head fund-raising dinner for Ohio Democrats.
When he first ran for state senate in 1995, Obama said on the door-to-door campaign, he always was asked, "Where'd you get that funny name? Although people wouldn't say it right. They would call me 'Alabama.' Or they would call me 'Yo Mama.' And I would have to explain that it was O Bama."
"I never thought that I'd hear myself say this at a Democratic Party dinner,'' Obama said.
"But Newt Gingrinch made a great point the other day. He was being interviewed, talking about what an awful job his party has done in running the country. . . A reporter asked, 'Well what would you do if you were a Democrat?' ''
The former Republican House speaker said, "I would just use a two-word slogan. 'Had enough.' "
Then Obama ramped up his speech, attracting several standing ovations:
"I think we've all had enough. Enough of the broken promises. Enough of the failed leadership. Enough of the can't do, won't do, won't even try style of government. Four years after 9-11, I've had enough of being told that we can't find the money to make sure that our ports are protected and our railroads are protected and are chemical plants are protected, but we can find the money to give a tax break to Paris Hilton. I've had enough. I've had enough of the closed-door deals that give millions to HMOs, but we're told that we can't do a thing for 45 million uninsured, or the millions more that can't pay the medical bills. I've had enough of being told that we can't afford body armor for our troops and health care for our veterans and benefits for our wounded heroes that risked their lives for this country. I have had enough of that. I have had enough of giving millions away to oil companies, but we're told we can't invest in the renewable energy that will create jobs. . .and finally free us from our dependence on oil wells in Saudi Arabia so we can't stop funding both sides of the war on terror. . .I've had enough of being told that all we can do about this is sit and wait and hope that the good fortures of the few trickle down on everyone else in the country, including Ohio. I've had enough of that Ohio."
Obama, the only African American in the U.S. Senate, attended a reception at Veterans Memorial Hall sponsored by the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, which includes state Rep. Tyrone K. Yates of Evanston, state Sen. Eric Kearney of North Avondale and state Rep. Catherine L. Barrett of College Hill.
Kearney introduced Obama before his keynote speech. In July 2004, Kearney hosted a Cincinnati fund-raiser for Obama. Kearney's wife, Jan-Michele, was in Obama's class at Harvard Law School. And the Kearneys attended Obama's wedding.
"We find ourselves at a crossroads in American history,'' Obama said. "I believe it is out time to lead this country once again."
The state Democratic Party raised more than $550,000 at the dinner attended by 2,500 people, according to party spokesman Brian Rothenberg.
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, a former state senator, said he's been attending annual party dinners for 15 to 20 years, "and this is the biggest crowd I've ever seen. I think this says Democrats are energized.''
Mallory was named Ohio Democrat of the Year by Chairman Chris Redfern, who cited Mallory's leadership and "seamless transition" as the Queen City's new mayor.
Asked about Republican hopes that black Democrats will "cross over'' and vote for Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in this year's race for governor, Mallory said, "It's a two-way street with crossovers. There will be white Republicans who will cross and vote for (Democrat) Ted Strickland.''
Former Cincinnati Council candidate Samantha Herd, who is now working on the campaign to elect Ohio Rep. Barbara Sykes of Akron as state Auditor, added, "Electing Ken Blackwell is not the kind of historic we need."