Barack Obama’s press secretary discusses senator’s campaign

By Kathleen Foody

U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign believes that college students will make the difference in the 2008 election, said Bill Burton, national press secretary for the Democratic senator from Illinois.

Burton also said that includes members of the college media.

During the first of what Burton said he hoped would become a regular occurrence, he spoke with college journalists from universities throughout the country via conference call Thursday.

Burton said Obama believes that this point in history is a chance for young people to “put their shoulders to the wheel of history” and work for change.

Though college students do have a historically low voting rate, he said this is a different kind of election that has created a desire for change in young people.

“Senator Obama believes that now, more than ever, we can get young folks voting, get them involved and working towards the sort of change we are fighting for,” Burton said.

Justin Cajindos, senior in LAS and president of the College Democrats, said the high level of excitement about Obama’s campaign has been obvious here at the University.

He said that students on campus have formed a “Students for Obama” registered student organization and already have 300 people on their e-mail list.

“The most exciting thing for me about the level of excitement is most of the people interested in getting involved are freshmen or have never been politically involved before,” he said. “They aren’t the same faces I’m used to seeing.”

Speaking from the Obama press camp’s headquarters in Chicago, Burton also addressed other key points of the Obama campaign, including the development of a more independent energy policy and increasing access to higher education.

Burton said Obama plans to decrease dependence on foreign energy sources through alternative fuels to create more jobs and make fuels cheaper for American consumers.

With 16 announced candidates and a number of others still exploring the option, the Democratic field has quickly become crowded, but Burton said Obama doesn’t consider this a race against individuals.

“He’s running because he feels he is most suited to be president at this time,” Burton said.

“He has a vision that if we all work together and we are all committed we can transform the way we do politics in this country,” he added.

Although race has quickly become a common point of discussion, Burton said Obama realizes he has to earn every vote.

“He is at the stage where he has to introduce himself to the American people, and let them get to know his background and what makes him tick,” he said.