Tonight I saw Caroline Kennedy endorse Barack Obama

kennedy01.pngFROM JASON’S CONTINUED LEFTWARD DRIFT — Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, spoke tonight in my city.

She is stumping across Ohio for Barack Obama as the March 4 primary nears, saying Obama is the first candidate she’s ever seen who inspires people the way her father did.

“He’ll appeal to those around the world who still believe in the American ideal and are looking to America for the kind of leadership that we provided internationally when my father was president,” she said.

I was working my beat at the newspaper where I am a reporter, and had the opportunity to watch and analyze objectively from the back of the room. Kennedy did not say anything to sway me to Obama’s cause. Her 20-minute speech was more nostalgic jingoism directed at the already-converted than any kind of rational argument for Obama.

What did cause me to gain sympathy for his campaign were some of the attendees I interviewed after Kennedy’s speech. They didn’t say they have decided to support Obama because he is black, because he is the anti-Bush, because they have a gut feeling about him, or because he’s an elegant speaker.

Each and every one said they are marching in Obama’s line because of his platform — and they cited specific policies to back it up. One woman, a 39-year-old mother of a college freshman — said she is drawn to Obama’s promise of a $4,000 tax credit to make college more affordable. Another woman said his clear anti-war stance (and the fact that he did not cast a Senate vote to go to war, as did his opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton) is his strongest appeal. One man listed to me several NAFTA provisions that Obama wants to amend in order to secure open trade.

Trust me, that’s an unprecedented level of education to meet at a local political rally.

I’ve said previously that I am more supportive of Clinton in 2008 than Obama. I think I’m slowly giving ground, especially after the Cleveland State University debate Tuesday.

Click above for part 1 of 10 in the complete Democratic debate at CSU. 

Clinton did not perform well; she was combative while Obama was collected. She was smug where Obama was gracious. She was outclassed several times by his well-phrased quips, and when she danced around Tim Russert’s questions (especially the one about job creation shortfall in New York state), Obama handled them smoothly.

We’ll see how things progress between now and the Democratic National Convention in August.

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