- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 17, 2009

UPDATED:

Barack Obama” href=”/themes/?Theme=Barack+Obama” >President-elect Barack Obama said Saturday his inauguration holds “the promise of a new beginning” for America and offers the nation a chance to reaffirm its fundamental values.

In his weekly radio address Mr. Obama, who will be sworn in as the 44th president on Tuesday, said the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another is the envy of many in the world, and a sign the nation remains strong.

“Through the long twilight struggle of the Cold War, our transitions from one president to the next provided a stark contrast to the suffocating grip of Soviet Communism,” he said. “And today, the resilience of our democracy stands in opposition to the extremists who would tear it down.”

Seeking to keep his millions of supporters involved as he takes office, Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign on Saturday sent an e-mail to them telling them they have been enlisted in a citizen army called Organizing for America to try to bolster his political agenda.

“Joe Biden and I will be working with Congress to bring about change in Washington. But we cannot do this without you. The change weve worked so hard for will not happen unless ordinary Americans get involved, and supporters like you must lead the way,” Mr. Obama said in a video announcement.

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His campaign said the new organization will be partners with the Democratic National Committee, and an aide said it will be housed at the DNC’s offices. The campaign wouldn’t say whether that means Mr. Obama’s sought-after list of 13 million e-mail supporters will also go to the DNC, but the housing arrangement makes that likely.

Democrats could use the lists to raise money for candidates and the party, and to mobilize them to contact lawmakers when Mr. Obama is pushing for Congress to pass parts of his agenda.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who Mr. Obama has tapped to be chairman of the DNC, said he will use Mr. Obama’s network to support the incoming president.

“Change doesn’t come easy — our work has just begun,” Mr. Kaine said.

After the election Mr. Obama’s campaign sent out surveys to supporters and held small-group meetings with some to plot how best to use his network. The campaign said more than 500,000 surveys were returned, and most said they wanted a way to support Mr. Obama when he’s in office.

Mr. Obama takes office with high expectations he will be a fundamental change from President Bush, who leaves after eight years with tremendously low approval ratings and with a series of difficulties having happened on his watch: a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, two wars, Hurricane Katrina, two recessions and two corporate governance crises.

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