ServeNext.org Blog

Obama aims “to make government and public service cool again.”

Posted by aaronjmarquez on December 3, 2007

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Guess who wants to make serving their country cool again? That would be U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), who recently sat down with TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel on a flight from Portsmouth to New York City. Here’s what the Senator had to say about The Case for National Service, TIME’s September 10th cover story…

One of the things I think I can bring to the presidency is to make government and public service cool again. There’s such a hunger among young people for some outlet for their idealism. That’s why you see these movements around Darfur or climate change. You don’t see it expressed in terms of people wanting to serve in the Justice Department or the foreign service. Why should they, when the core missions of those agencies have been gutted?

Clearly, as the Des Moines Register reports this morning, the message is resonating with voters.

Jane Kennedy, 48, of Ames said she expects Obama’s message to inspire young voters to show up on caucus night.

“He’s very inspiring and there’s tons of energy (among students) that’s been untapped,” Kennedy said. “They just have to hear the right message, and he’s got it.”

A pair of ISU students who support Obama said they would be out of the state on caucus day.

Leslie Freehill, an ISU senior from Chenoa, Ill., said she had already made plans to travel during her break from school. Freehill said she’ll face a significant debt load after she graduates, and Obama’s concern for college students partially drew her to his camp.

Emily Eggleston, an ISU junior from Marshalltown, said she won’t be able to caucus for Obama but his resistance to the Iraq war resonates with her.

Eggleston and Freehill expressed interest in performing national service in exchange for having some of their loans paid for by the federal government, a policy Obama advocated during his remarks.

The Senator returns to the Granite State on Sunday – with Oprah Winfrey in tow – for an evening rally in Manchester. His wife Michelle, former Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago, is back for a New Hampshire campaign swing tomorrow.

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