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Fenty backs Obama for president
“Voting rights — that’s the only thing I said to him when he called me and asked for the support,” said Mr. Fenty, a Democrat. “You’ve got to be supportive of voting rights 100 percent.”
The mayor said Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, was the only presidential candidate to ask for his endorsement.
“Washington shouldn’t just be a seat of government, it should be one of the world’s leading cities,” he said. “In many parts of D.C., you can look down the street and see the Capitol dome and yet so many of these streets couldn’t be more disconnected from our government.”
Mr. Fenty praised Mr. Obama, saying he appears committed to helping urban areas. He also plans to join Mr. Obama today at the Town Hall Education, Arts and Recreation Campus in Southeast, where Mr. Obama is expected to announce an initiative to reduce urban poverty.
Mr. Obama said he intends to focus on education in urban areas such as the District, where in many schools the majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and where high school and college graduation rates are low.
The strategy aligns sharply with Mr. Fenty’s plan to take over the District’s public schools, which he made his first order of business upon being sworn into office this year and accomplished last month.
Mr. Obama also said he plans to create a universal health care system and an affordable-housing trust fund.
His campaign includes a grass-roots theme seen in Mr. Fenty’s mayoral run last year, when the former D.C. Council member canvassed neighborhoods knocking on doors and collecting numerous small checks from his constituents.
A significant amount of Mr. Obama’s campaign funds also have come from small-time donations of $200 or less.
Still, Mr. Obama trails Mrs. Clinton by a significant margin in the polls, which he attributes to Mrs. Clinton’s high level of name recognition. He said the gap will begin to close as he campaigns in more states.
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