One-on-One with Barack Obama - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 03/10/08

One-on-One with Barack Obama

By Howard Ballou

While in Jackson on Monday, Senator Barack Obama agreed to an interview with WLBT. Asked about an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket, the Illinois senator made it clear he won't accept a vice presidential spot.

So who would be his running mate?

"For me," he said, "to make a decision about who my running mate would be is a little bit premature. I've got to win this thing first."

On the subject of his campaign theme, "Change," the senator had this to say: 

"I don't take PAC money. I don't take money from federally-registered lobbyist, like Senator Clinton does. Which means that I don't have any strings attached to me. I think that it is important to open up government. Make it transparent."

Senator Obama said securing U.S. borders and illegal immigration are important issues, and he says we must force illegal immigrants out of the shadows.

"Make them register, require them to pay a fine," he said. "Pay back taxes they owe. Require them to learn English. Require them to go to the back of the line, so they don't get citizenship ahead of people who applied legally, but giving them a chance to get legal. That will get them out of the shadows and make it less likely that they will undermine U.S. Workers.

We asked the Illinois senator about getting Mississippi off the bottom in areas like education, healthcare and Katrina recovery to which he responded, "We cannot neglect Mississippi. We've got to make sure that we're actually building affordable housing. I was concerned when I learned that some of the money was diverted to some other areas by the governor here. I think it's important that's been allocated for housing is spent on housing. We've got to invest in our education system, early childhood education, increasing our teacher salaries and giving them more support. A $4,000 tuition credit for every student every year, so they can afford to go to schools like Jackson State. If you don't have health  care, you'll be able to sign on. We'll subsidize it if you can't afford it. If you've got health insurance, we'll lower your premium by $2,500. And we're going to emphasize prevention."

Senator Obama cited two people as his heros politically, the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln.

"One thig I learn from someone like Lincoln is how to disagree without being disagreeable. And that's something we seem to have lost in our politics. I'd like to return to that kind of approach."

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