Obama to hold fundraiser in St. Louis

Friday, October 26, 2007

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is scheduled to appear at a "low-dollar fundraiser" here Friday to help build momentum for his campaign in Missouri, an aide said.

The senator from Illinois, lagging behind rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the polls, is scheduled to speak after 6 p.m. at Union Station.

Obama has received endorsements from U.S. Rep. William "Lacy" Clay and U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, both Democrats of St. Louis. Clinton has won support from U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, of Kansas City, and former Gov. Bob Holden.

Friday's event is billed as a "Missouri Countdown to Change," an opportunity for grassroots supporters to help.

This month alone, Obama headlined seven such events in cities across the country. With admission only $25, or $15 for students, this is a "low-dollar fundraiser" aimed at translating public enthusiasm to concrete organization, campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

Obama has ramped up his campaign organization in Missouri, hiring full-time, state political director Mike Dorsey, and opening offices in Kansas City and St. Louis this month.

Obama's visit here reflects recognition of Missouri's importance as a swing state among the 21 holding primaries or caucuses on Feb. 5, "Super Tuesday." Other Super Tuesday states include New York, California and New Jersey.

The campaign has said Missouri will be critical to its success.

Obama and other candidates are now focusing almost all their resources on winning the earliest contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

But the campaign said Obama is already looking ahead to key states such as Missouri that make up "a quasi-national primary" on Feb. 5 and could help determine the Democratic nominee.

Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates have criticized Clinton for voting recently to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, saying President Bush could use the designation to launch military attacks.

Clinton, the only Democrat running for president to support the Senate measure, has vigorously denied that would be the result and says she was voting for stepped-up diplomacy and economic sanctions.

Obama said he supports tough sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard, but he contended the measure Clinton supported "made the case for President Bush that we need to use our military presence in Iraq to counter Iran -- a case that has nothing to do with sanctioning the Revolutionary Guard."

Obama missed the Senate vote on the Revolutionary Guard, campaigning in New Hampshire, but he opposes the measure.

In response, Clinton's campaign later issued a memo that quoted Obama arguing last year for keeping a reduced military force in Iraq as a counter to Iran. The memo accused him of engaging in "false attacks" against Clinton in an attempt to boost his campaign.

"Stagnant in the polls and struggling to revive his once-buoyant campaign, Senator Obama has abandoned the politics of hope and embarked on a journey in search of a campaign issue to use against Senator Clinton," the memo says.

"Nevermind that he made the very argument he is now criticizing back in November 2006. Nevermind that he co-sponsored a bill designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a global terrorist group back in April. Nevermind that his colleague from Illinois Dick Durbin voted the same way as Senator Clinton on (the Revolutionary Guard measure) and said 'If I thought there was any way it could be used as a pretense to launch an invasion of Iran I would have voted no,"' the memo continued.

It said that if Obama really thought the measure gave Bush authority for a war with Iran, he should have joined his colleagues in the Senate on the day of the vote.

"Instead, he did nothing, remained totally silent, skipped the vote and spoke out only after the vote to engage in false attacks against Senator Clinton," the memo said.

At a time when Obama needs to be winning voters away from Clinton, instead he's been playing defense. Just this week he's been under fire from gay activists who objected to a participant in his gospel concert series, and his campaign agreed to return some donations after The Washington Post reported that they came from children.

Many observers say Obama needs to get tougher on Clinton.

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