Obama on DC handgun ban:

Chicago Tribune 11/20/07

"[T]he campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he '...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.'" (James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins, "Court To Hear Gun Case," Chicago Tribune, 11/20/07)

ABC News 2/15/08

But asked today about the DC handgun ban currently being reviewed by the US Supreme Court, Obama declined to take a position for or against its Constitutionality but did express broad support for the rights of local jurisdictions to make such decisions for themselves." (David Wright, Ursula Fahy And Sunlen Miller, "Obama: 'Common Sense Regulation' On Gun Owners' Rights," ABC News, 2/15/08)

ABC News 6/26/08

"Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, may have a long record of supporting gun control measures, and he may have seemed to have previously endorsed the DC Handgun Ban. But just now he issued a paper statement embracing the 5-4 decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, that struck down the DC Handgun Ban as unconstitutional." (Jake Tapper, "Obama Embraces Supreme Court Decision As 'Well-Needed Guidance,'" ABC News, 6/26/08)

Obama on public campaign financing:

New York Times, 4/11/2008:

Three days after telling contributors at a Washington fundraiser that he believed his campaign has created “a parallel public financing system,” Mr. Obama said today that he “wasn’t trying to send a signal” about whether he intended to opt-out of the public financing system if he wins the Democratic nomination.

Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2008:

Sen. Barack Obama isn’t committing himself to using public financing during the general election, clouding his earlier pledge to do so.

The Democratic front-runner, whose fund-raising prowess in the Democratic primary fight has been unequalled, said his position hadn’t changed. But rather than reiterate his past pledge, he called the current financing system “creaky” and urged both parties to take steps to reduce the influence of third-party spending.

Washington Post Fact Checker, 6/20/2008

Barack Obama probably wishes that he had been more careful in the wording of some of his earlier statements about the public financing system. His carefully parsed retreat on public financing is similar to his hedging on an earlier promise to meet the leaders of Iran, Cuba, and North Korea "without preconditions" during his first year as president. In this case, however, the turnaround is even more blatant.

Obama on withdrawal from Iraq:

New York Times, July 3, 2008:

FARGO, N.D. –- As a presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama has not been known for holding an abundance of news conferences. That was not the case here on Thursday, when he called two in a span of four hours.

So what prompted him to call a second afternoon session to talk specifically about Iraq? Mr. Obama was scrolling through news reports on his Blackberry – taking particular note of stories about his Iraq policy – when he told his advisers he wanted to better explain a statement he made earlier about continuing to “refine my policies” regarding a timeline for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

“We’re going to try this again,” Mr. Obama said, standing behind a lectern that was hastily set up on the lawn of a park here. “Apparently I wasn’t clear enough this morning on my position with respect to the war in Iraq.”

In doing so, Mr. Obama illustrated the complexities surrounding Iraq policy and the presidential campaign. After being a political beneficiary in the Democratic primary for being seen as the strongest anti-war candidate, many of the nuances that have long been tucked into Mr. Obama’s policy have begun to emerge.

So does Mr. Obama still stand behind his proposed timeline to withdraw the majority of American combat troops in 16 months, at a pace of one or two a month?

This morning, he answered the question like this:

“My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything that I’ve said, was always premised on making sure that our troops were safe. I said that based on the information that we had received from our commanders that one to two brigades a month could be pulled out safely, from a logistical perspective. My guiding approach continues to be that we’ve got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable. I’m going to continue to gather information to find out whether those conditions still hold.”

In the afternoon, this is how he addressed the same topic:

“I’ve also said that I would be deliberate and careful in how we got out, that I would bring our troops home at a pace of one to two brigades per month and that pace would have our combat troops out in 16 months. That position has not changed. I have not equivocated on that position, I am not searching for maneuvering room with respect to that position.”

Mr. Obama’s positions on Iraq have never tilted as far left as many Democrats would have preferred – remember a debate last year when he declined to say specifically when troops would be out of Iraq? – his statements here provided the latest indication of the way changing circumstances in Iraq have added fresh challenges to keep anti-war supporters on his side while pursuing what he calls a responsible end to the war.

Mr. Obama is heading to Iraq this month. He said he intended to collect new information from U.S. commanders on the ground and he would “refine” his policies accordingly. But does that include the 16-month timetable? Not specifically, he said, but it also could depend upon the number of troops needed to train Iraqi forces and fight terrorism.

“There’s been a major debate in terms of how we should structure training for Iraqi military and police. What kinds of troop presences will we need in order for that to occur?” Mr. Obama said. “What kinds of troop presences do we need to have a counter terrorism strike force in Iraq that ensures that Al Qaeda does not regain a foothold there. Those are all issues that obviously are going to be determined by the facts on the ground.”

In the end, one of the biggest differences between Mr. Obama’s first and second appearances in front of the cameras here on Thursday was his emphasis. The first time, he did not include a line saying that he specifically intended to end the war. By the time he returned for Take Two, that line was a prominent one.

Obama on free trade:

Detroit Free Press, June 17, 2008

If Barack Obama really wants to sell his message of hope to American voters this November, he needs to stop treating us like pathetic victims unable to compete economically with people in Mexico or China.

Rather, he needs to discuss people like Kyle Schwulst, 28, founder of ElectroJet Inc., a Whitmore Lake outfit of seven employees. Schwulst shopped his electronic fuel-injection device to China's huge market for scooters and now expects to employ 20 people by year end and foresees \$500 million in sales in two years.

Or take Dan Kocks, president of Warren-based Enterprise Automotive Systems, a supplier of castings and forgings to the auto industry. Kocks was hired two years ago to take the company global. He now predicts that exports to Germany, India and other nations will be 40% of sales within five years, creating jobs in Michigan.

Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, Obama pandered in the Democratic Party primaries to labor unions and others in the party base who blame low-wage foreign countries for stealing American jobs. He vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and he whined about China's currency. On Monday in Michigan, he tried to have it both ways.

In a Flint speech, he did not vow to ram changes in NAFTA down the throats of our Canadian and Mexican neighbors. Perhaps that was out of deference to former Vice President Al Gore, who brilliantly defended NAFTA in a 1993 debate with Ross Perot -- and was to appear onstage Monday night with Obama at Joe Louis Arena.

"I believe in free trade. It can save money for our consumers, generate business for U.S. exporters and expand global wealth," Obama said in Flint Monday morning. Then he reverted to the anti-trade rhetoric of the primaries, zinging South Korea for its lopsided automotive trade with the United States and accusing foreign nations of unfair subsidies and closed markets, as if he were blissfully unaware of U.S. farm subsidies and our 25% tariff on pickup truck imports.

"The politics of this were unfortunate in the primaries," said Martin Zimmerman, a University of Michigan business professor and former chief economist and group vice president of Ford Motor Co.

Many political observers expect that Obama, if elected, would stifle the anti-trade talk. He won't be able to square his bashing of President George W. Bush for his unilateral approach to Iraq if he turns around and dictates my-way-or-the-highway terms on NAFTA to Canada and Mexico.

"The question is: How far can you back off on your primary positions once you're in office?" Zimmerman said.

Schwulst and Kocks, a couple of small-company guys from Michigan, didn't wait around for Obama or anyone else to change the global rules.

Instead, they took the leap into exporting by joining trade missions led by Automation Alley, the southeast Michigan consortium of 900 technology firms and local agencies.

"There's a lot of fear about us going offshore," said Kocks, but then added that exporting can help build a stronger industry. "We need to do that in Michigan."

"I wouldn't have known where to start myself," said Schwulst, who actually changed his business model from a focus on lawnmower engines to scooters once he discovered the demand for more efficient, cleaner-burning scooter engines in Asia.

Today's weak U.S. dollar presents a great opportunity.

President Obama, or President John McCain, will do a far greater service if they boost support for gung-ho business folks like Schwulst and Kocks than if they act like America is a weakling that can't compete.