Obama plans city health-care forum
Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama speaks at the Communications Workers of America (CWA) National Legislative-Political Conference in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Barack Obama (D) Senator, Illinois
Born: 08/04/1961
Birthplace: Honolulu, HI
Home: Chicago, IL
Religion: United Church of Christ
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PORTSMOUTH - Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has publicly stated his intent to establish a universal health-care system by the end of his first term.

On Tuesday, April 3, Obama will hold a forum to get input from the public on the problems they are having with the current system of health care in this country and what they would like to see in a new system. That forum titled "A Community Meeting on Health Care with Sen. Barack Obama," will be held at 2:30 p.m., at Seacoast Media Group's new headquarters, 111 New Hampshire Ave., at the Pease International Tradeport.

"As I confirm my ideas on health care with the experts, I also want to go into communities and talk to families dealing with health care issues, doctors, nurses and other providers," Obama said in a telephone interview Monday. "I think Portsmouth is wonderfully representative of the communities of this nation."

The Illinois senator said he has found in the course of his career both in the U.S. Senate and in his state's Legislature, that by listening to the American people he can create more effective policies and be a better legislator.

"I believe that sense stems from my background as a community organizer," Obama said.

After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, Obama put law school and corporate life on hold and moved to Chicago, where he became a community organizer with a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment.

The group had some success, but Obama said the experience made him realize that in order to truly improve the lives of people in that and other communities, it would take not just a change at the local level, but a change in laws and in the country's political system.

That led him to run for the Illinois Legislature, where he served for eight years, and subsequently for U.S. Senate. Obama was elected to that body in 2004.

He said the information he gleans from the April 3 forum in Portsmouth will be used to help craft a comprehensive health-care policy that will be presented to the nation in the course of his campaign and then, hopefully, enacted once he becomes president.

"I'm hoping for a good turnout," Obama said.

The Obama campaign approached Seacoast Media Group to serve as host for this forum. No representatives from that group will take part in the forum other than as observers and reporters. SMG publishes the Portsmouth Herald, the Exeter News-Letter, the Hampton Union and the Rockingham News in New Hampshire and the York Weekly and York County Coast Star in southern Maine, and operates Seacoastonline.com., SeacoastConnects.com and TheNewHampshirePrimary.com. In addition, Seacoast Media Group has extended an invitation to all other major presidential candidates to use its facilities at Pease for similar events.

All tickets for Obama event have been allocated

The response for tickets to the "Community Meeting on Health Care with Sen. Barack Obama" scheduled for Tuesday, April 3, at Seacoast Media Groupís headquarters at Pease, has been swift and overwhelming. As a result, seating capacity has been reached and we are no longer taking ticket requests.

Those who have been selected to attend will be contacted by members of the SMG staff within the next few days. Those who called to request tickets, but were not selected this time, will be placed on a list and offerred admission to the next community forum with a presidential candidate held at the SMG offices.

We thank all those who expressed an interest in attending the Obama event and look forward to seeing you all at future primary events hosted by SMG.