AUSTIN – Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York met at the University of Texas to debate in a nationally televised forum on Feb. 21.
The two United States senators, vying to be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, answered questions posed by Jorge Ramos, a reporter for Univision, the Spanish-language television network, and CNN reporter John King.
Among many topics were:
- universal health care
- immigration policy
- federal taxation
- Iraq strategy
- care for wounded veterans
- care for military families
Clinton suggested her experience should make her the clear choice for Democratic voters. Obama asked for voters’ help in his effort to change the nation’s capital from a place “where good ideas go to die” and work with him to help America “live up to its promise” of liberty and justice for all.
Forty-thousand people applied to attend the debate in the UT recreation center, but admittance was limited to 1,000. Pro-Hillary and Pro-Barack crowds gathered outside the building and engaged in loud but peaceful volleys of chants.
Thousands more attended political rallies and debate watches were held at Sholz Garten, the Austin Music Hall and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
To cap the debate, an Obama rally the following evening in downtown Austin drew a crowd estimated at 30,000. The city of Austin closed off streets near the rally to vehicular traffic.
Meanwhile, Republican candidates U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Clute scheduled appearances in various cities in advance of the Texas GOP primary.
Party primaries are set for March 4, and early voting ends Feb. 29.
SMU chosen as Bush library site
The future site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library will be Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
The SMU board of trustees announced Feb. 22 it had reached an agreement with the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.
SMU is first lady Laura Bush’s alma mater. Yale University, President Bush’s alma mater, was in the running among eight potential sites.
A “Presidential Center,” to be built on SMU’s main campus, will consist of the presidential library containing Bush administration documents and artifacts, a museum with permanent and traveling exhibits and an independent public policy institute.
The library and museum will be operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Bush was elected to two consecutive terms as governor of Texas and served from 1995 until 2000, when he resigned to run for president.
City considers owning wind farm
The City of Austin’s utility company, Austin Energy, is looking into renewable or “greener” energy solutions for the future.
Michael McCluskey, deputy general manager of Austin Energy, said the utility company might consider buying West Texas land on which to build its own wind farm.
Owning wind turbines instead of contracting for power would guarantee a supply of wind power into the future and give the utility more cost control, McCluskey said.
Currently, much of Austin’s energy supply comes from coal-burning power plants.
‘Own Your Own Future’ launched
The Texas Education Agency on Feb. 22 launched a program to encourage youth to stay in school, graduate and pursue a career.
The program, “Own Your Own Future,” comes through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Education Commissioner Robert Scott said the program “provides at-risk youth with career options tied to their passions and desires, all while reiterating the need to finish high school to make these achievements a reality.”
The program is accessed via www.ownyourownfuture.com, a Web site that moves the user through a series of question-and- answer sections that help the student chart a clear path to goals and objectives and participate in the decisionmaking process.