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Obama vs. Clinton : Two views on the choice

Clinton: Ready to lead on day one

By Maureen E. Feeney

This October, I had the rare privilege of speaking before a crowd of several thousand at Boston's historic Symphony Hall about my candidate for president, Hillary Clinton. I was asked to answer a simple question: Why am I supporting Hillary for president? As I began to talk about her experience and leadership on issues that effect working families and children, her proposals for truly universal healthcare and her goal of restoring our nation's standing in the world, I was struck by one reason in particular:

"I am not voting for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman," I said. "I am voting for Hillary Clinton because of the woman she is."

It makes me proud as a woman in elected office to have the opportunity to elect the first woman president of the United States, just as the support and encouragement of women from all generations has inspired me as president of the Boston City Council. But beyond the opportunity to make history, I am supporting Hillary Clinton for President because I believe she is uniquely qualified to bring a much needed change in leadership to Washington.

For thirty-five years, Hillary has been an agent of change. From working in the streets of New Bedford to improve children's access to education, to leading the nationwide battle to bring affordable quality healthcare to all Americans, Hillary has, time and again, proven her strength as a voice for the voiceless. Her voice is needed now more than ever.

Like many of you, I believe strongly that it is time for a change in Washington. I also believe that you don't make change just by hoping for it, you make change by working hard for it. Hillary Clinton has been tested and has proven her ability to make positive changes that will improve the quality of life for hard working men and women.

In international affairs, we need to restore America's standing in the world. We have seen the shortcomings of a "go it alone" strategy and we need a return to strong international diplomacy. Hillary is the candidate who will, within her first days in office, offer a plan to bring our troops home safely from Iraq.

Our economy is in trouble. We need a leader like Hillary who, from day one, understands the challenges faced by hard working men and women and who will ensure that any economic stimulus benefits not just the top 1 percent of our economy, but the middle class as well.

In healthcare, Hillary has presented a plan to ensure quality affordable healthcare that is truly universal. In education, Hillary has proposed ending the unfunded mandate of No Child Left Behind and implementing universal pre-K, something that we in Boston know will better prepare our nation's children for a quality education.

But perhaps more than anything, I know that Hillary Clinton will not forget our nation's cities. I remember a time under President Bill Clinton, when our streets were safer and better protected because federal dollars were spent were they were needed- in our cities. Mayor Menino and Commissioner Davis have made great strides with a return to community policing, but they cannot do it alone. They need a partner in Washington like Hillary Clinton to ensure that Boston receives its fair share of federal funding.

In short, we need a president who is ready on day one to confront the many challenges that we face. Hillary Clinton will be that president. She has my support. I hope you will consider giving her yours. Please remember to vote on Feb. 5th.

Maureen E. Feeney is president of the Boston City Council and has served Dorchester District Three as a Boston City Councillor since 1994.

Obama is smart choice for Democrats

By Linda Dorcena Forry

I'm with Senator Barack Obama for president.

It was a tough call. I like Senator Hillary Clinton and if she becomes the nominee of our party, I will work hard for her election.

But Obama offers us a chance to not only win in November, but to enter office with a clear mandate sent by a broad base of support from voters inside and outside of the Democratic party. As president, he is best positioned to transcend the bitter partisan divide that has fueled our policy mistakes abroad and caused inaction on a host of important domestic issues.

This has little, if anything, to do with Clinton's gender or Obama's race. On the issues, with a few exceptions, they are very close. It has to do with this moment in American political history and all that has come before it. It has to do with electability and, perhaps just as importantly, governing this huge country.

Senator Obama has been propelled to the top tier of this campaign by a consistent message of inclusiveness. He talks of building a new majority that will include the Democratic base, independent, and even some Republican voters.

One of the nation's leading Democrats - our very own Senator Edward Kennedy - endorsed Obama this week. I believe that Sen. Kennedy made his decision, in part, because he too is worried about the Clinton campaign's direction and what it might mean for victory in the fall.

Obama has already proven that he is a cross-over candidate. In his 2004 election for U.S. Senate, he put up impressive numbers in conservative sections of Illinois. In this primary season, Obama has narrowly trailed Clinton among the Democratic "establishment;" but he is more popular than she is among independent voters and has been able to make up ground against the Clinton machine - and even win in some states - because of these voters. And Obama is clearly driving a surge in new, young voters who have helped set records in voter turnout in places like South Carolina and Iowa.

That kind of appeal will become paramount in the fall, when our nominee will go head-to-head with the Republican pick. It appears likely that candidate will be John McCain, someone who is very popular among independents and the so-called Reagan Democrats - conservative Dems who helped propel Ronald Reagan to decisive victories in 1980 and 1984. He will be a formidable foe.

We need a nominee who will be able to compete for these independents, who will likely make the difference in November. I would be less concerned about this dynamic if Hillary Clinton was competing for this nomination on her own record and her husband was playing a more muted, supporting role. But, after losing the Iowa caucus to Obama in surprising fashion, the Clinton team changed up their strategy. Bill Clinton is a tenacious campaigner and very popular among hard-core Democrats. But he is also a polarizing figure. The Clintons have distorted Obama's record, sparked a cynical debate about his place in the civil rights movement, and assailed him as disloyal for saying something nice about Ronald Reagan (even though he didn't, actually).

How is that going to play with the many Americans who respect the late president? How does that make any dent in the Red State- Blue State divide? We have to be smarter and more strategic this time around.

Obama will not get a pass from the far-right's tactics. Indeed, we can expect him to face the worst kinds of smear attacks. Sadly, there are instances where such negative tactics have worked. But they are no substitute for a well-organized, broad-based coalition that is cemented by good ideas and a message of hope and inspiration. That's especially true among that large bloc of voters who do not identify with either major party and who don't care about settling old scores from the 1990s.

Sen. Clinton is an attractive candidate, especially for those of us who like the idea of having the first woman elected to the oval office. But, as voters who are most interested in electing a Democrat this fall, we need to be strategic.

On Feb. 5, Massachusetts voters have a chance to make a real difference in the nomination process. Our delegates could very well tip the balance at the nominating convention in Denver.

I hope you will join me in putting our best option on the ballot this November. Let's give our independent friends a strong alternative to the Republican ticket. On Tuesday, let's help Barack Obama win this nomination.

Linda Dorcena Forry is the state representative from the 12th Suffolk District.