3,000 Gather for Obama Rally in Missouri

The Associated Press
Saturday, May 12, 2007; 9:51 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama urged about 3,000 supporters Saturday to help send members to Congress who will oppose the war in Iraq.

"We have 51 votes in the Senate, and to have a veto-proof majority the next time we send a bill to end the war, we're going to need 16 more votes," Obama said.

"So I need everybody to take a look at how your senators are voting and how your congressmen are voting. We are 16 votes away from ending this war."

Obama was referring to President Bush's veto earlier this month of a $124.2 billion bill that would have funded the war in Iraq, among other things, but demanded troops begin coming home Oct. 1.

The Kansas City fundraiser was the Illinois senator's second in as many days in Missouri. He was in St. Louis on Friday for two events.

During his half-hour speech, Obama also touched on his proposal for universal health care, which he said would be at least in part driven by $75 billion in savings from improved technology in the field.

"If we move to the same kind of technologies that exist in every other industry, we save money. We can save $75 billion a year in improving the quality of our care, and we take that $75 billion and make sure that every single American has health care," he said to cheering and applause.

Obama also criticized the Bush administration for what he called "its lack of energy policy" and said he wants to encourage Detroit to make more energy-efficient vehicles.

"If we increase fuel efficient standards by 40 percent, we would have to import zero oil from the Middle East," Obama said. "We could stop sending $800 million a day to some of the most hostile nations on earth."

Obama takes his campaign to New Jersey next week, where he is picking up the endorsement of the high-profile mayor of the state's largest city.

Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker told The Associated Press on Saturday that he will officially announce his endorsement at a news conference with Obama on Monday, when the senator arrives in New Jersey to attend a number of events including a town hall meeting with union members in Trenton.

"It's time that we have a national leader that's going to raise us around our highest common ideals and remind us that we have more in common as a people than we do that divides us," Booker said.

Booker, who has been linked with Obama as part of a new generation of black leaders, said he will not only be endorsing Obama, but will also be a part of the campaign's leadership in New Jersey.

Most polls have shown Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York with a healthy lead over Obama in New Jersey.


Associated Press Writer Daniela Flores contributed to this report from Trenton, N.J.

© 2007 The Associated Press