Senate hopefuls Obama, Keyes speak at forum

Saturday, October 2, 2004

CHICAGO -- U.S. Senate candidates Barack Obama and Alan Keyes took part in a wide-ranging candidates forum Friday night, discussing everything from immigration and health care to the war in Iraq.

The two candidates did not appear on stage together during the two-hour forum organized by the Community Renewal Society, a social justice not-for-profit organization affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

Though they didn't stand together, the two candidates addressed many of the same issues, including unemployment, public housing and gang violence.

They also told the audience of about 1,000 that the country needs to better control its borders while providing chances for undocumented workers already living in the United States to become legal residents.

"We have to create pathways for citizenship for those undocumented workers who are good neighbors, who are raising families, who are paying taxes and are contributing to our economy," Democratic candidate Obama said.

Republican candidate Keyes said he supported "regularizing" the status of illegal immigrants living in the United States. But after amnesty is granted, Keyes said, the country needs strict border control.

"We're going to have to establish a strict surveillance of our borders, fortify them essentially," he said. "And we're going to have to establish a true border guard that will be the equivalent of the Coast Guard on both borders."

Several forum attendees pressed Keyes to explain why he was a good candidate to represent Illinois when he is from Maryland. State Republican leaders asked Keyes to join the race in August after former candidate Jack Ryan dropped out amid sex-club allegations. Keyes has since rented an apartment in Calumet City.

Keyes told the forum that his beliefs in the rights of unborn children and Obama's pro-choice abortion record "moved" him to join the Illinois race.

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