Obama in ’95: Reagan committed ‘dirty deeds’
By Sam Youngman and Aaron Blake
Posted: 01/17/08 05:02 PM [ET]
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made waves Wednesday by praising the late President Ronald Reagan, but in 1995 the future Illinois senator had a markedly different view of the Republican hero.
In his first book, Dreams from My Father, Obama said he got into community organizing in Chicago in 1983 to “pronounce on the need for change. Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds.”
On Wednesday, in an interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal, Obama took a shot at former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) by invoking Reagan’s name in a seemingly complimentary way.
“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and a way that Bill Clinton did not,” Obama said. “We want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
The Obama campaign said the senator was referring to the kind of movement campaign that vaulted Reagan to the White House.
“Sen. Obama was talking about the way President Reagan, for better or for worse, tapped into the mood of the electorate and changed the political landscape,” Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an e-mail. “That doesn’t change the fact that Sen Obama strongly disagreed with a lot of what Reagan did.”
But in 2003, as an Illinois state senator, Obama joined almost all of his colleagues in co-sponsoring legislation that would have marked Feb. 6 “Ronald Reagan Day” in Illinois, the state in which Reagan was born.
Obama cast the same vote last year, joining his rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in voting to name Feb. 6, 2007 “Ronald Reagan Day.”