- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2007

THE WASHINGTON TIMES After hearing from the leading Democratic candidates this week, liberal voters say they want a president who will give every American health care, limit outsourcing and make it easier for poor children and minorities to get a good education.

People attending the Take Back America conference named these domestic priorities — and said they would back higher taxes if needed to achieve them — as their top goal besides swiftly ending the Iraq war.

“We have to get a president who will reconsider trade policy or there will be no more middle class left,” said Dan Flippo, a member of the steelworkers union in Birmingham, Ala.

Joyce Elliott, a retired teacher from Little Rock, Ark., wants someone in the White House who will prioritize universal health care and helping poor children get through college without mountains of debt.

“Most importantly, I really would like to see a president govern as if he or she was not running for a second term,” she said. “Otherwise, they won’t make the bold moves they need to.”

Still, the immediate response of most voters surveyed by The Washington Times was to get out of Iraq, as evidenced by the results of a 727-person straw poll showing Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, who gave a tough antiwar speech at the conference, as the favorite.

Former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, who voted for the war in 2002 but has since apologized for the vote as a mistake, came in second place, besting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, who was booed and heckled yesterday over the war.

When Mrs. Clinton talked about Iraq being a catastrophe, Code Pink protesters in the auditorium shouted: “You voted for it!”

The boos came when she praised the troops for doing what they’d been asked to do and said, “It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions for their own people.”

Mrs. Clinton kept her composure, telling the crowd: “I love coming here every year,” getting some laughs from attendees who remembered she was also booed last year talking about Iraq.

“I see the signs: ‘Lead us out of Iraq now,’ that is what we are trying to do,” she said, and continued her speech, noting she is a co-sponsor of a pending bill that would deauthorize the war.

Mrs. Clinton was followed by staunch antiwar candidate Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, who received huge ovations when telling the crowd, “We need to tell the president now the occupation will come to an end, the troops will be brought home, the bases will be closed, the contractors must be brought back.”

The former first lady holds double-digit leads over her rivals in national polls, but many liberals are angry she has not said she is sorry for her 2002 war vote.

Mr. Obama had 29 percent, Mr. Edwards had 26 percent, and Mrs. Clinton had 17 percent in the straw poll, sponsored by Politico.com. The other candidates scored less than 10 percent, and former Vice President Al Gore received 8 percent as a write-in candidate.

The straw poll showed Iraq was the most important issue to attendees, followed by health care.

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