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"Antiwar" candidates don't vote in favor of funding war
Chicago students pressure Obama

By Orlando Sepúlveda | February 16, 2007 | Page 15

CHICAGO--A group of antiwar students turned out to challenge hometown Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama February 11 as he held a rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) to kick-start his campaign.

Approximately two dozen antiwar activists and students from UIC, Northeastern Illinois University and Northwestern University turned out among the crowd of 7,000 Obama supporters to send a message to send a message that "antiwar" candidates shouldn't vote to fund the war. The protest included members of the Campus Antiwar Network, Students for Social Justice, the Campus Greens and the International Socialist Organization.

During the rally, Obama repeated that the war wasn't authorized in the first place, which brought enthusiastic applause from the crowd, and he critiqued the position of candidates like Sen. Hillary Clinton. Antiwar protesters took the opportunity to unfurl a banner that read "Obama: Stand up! Cut the funding!"

Some in the crowd initially reacted positively. But as Obama tried to hush the protesters, and the students pressed on, chanting "Cut the war funding--bring the troops home," and "No justice, no peace--U.S. out of the Middle East," the crowd began chanting "Obama" in response. Protesters were "escorted" out of the pavilion--with one activist being roughed up by security.

Continuing his speech, Obama was forced to acknowledge protesters' concerns, and tried to spin himself as an antiwar candidate. "I'm glad they were there," he told the crowd. "They feel a sense of urgency about a war that should have never been authorized and a war that should have never been fought."

But Obama added that he doesn't want to cut funding for the war. "We need to bring this war to an end," he said, "but we need to do it in a way that makes our troops safe."

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