Obama says Bush and his unpopularity are great for Democrats

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PETERBOROUGH — Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Wednesday that President Bush's mistakes and unpopularity have been a tremendous boon for him and his Democratic peers.

Obama, appealing to Democratic activists on a southern New Hampshire farm before an evening debate at Dartmouth College, told voters that Bush, the war in Iraq and failures coping with Hurricane Katrina will help Democrats take the White House next year.

“George Bush has been a great advertisement for the Democratic Party,” he said, citing big crowds at campaign events as evidence.

“I admit that part of the reason that people are coming out is because in part they are sick and tired of George Bush and Dick Cheney. They are tired of an administration that treats our Constitution as a nuisance to be avoided. ... They mourned that day, two years ago, when we witnessed our fellow citizens standing on rooftops after a storm without water and without food and without rescue because of an administration that was either incompetent or indifferent to the plight of people in New Orleans.”

Obama, who continues to trail rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in recent polls, acknowledged concerns about his relative lack of Washington experience.

“I am absolutely certain that I may not have some of the experiences that Washington likes, but I guarantee you, I have the experience America needs right now to bring about the change that we're looking for in this country. That I know,” said Obama, standing under towering pine trees in front of a red-sided barn

It's a theme the first-term senator emphasizes in ads that started airing in New Hampshire this week. In them, he touts his outside-of-Washington resume.

“There are those in this race who tout their experience working that system as is. But what I have to remind them of is that the system has not been working for us,” Obama said. “There are those who say we just need someone who can play the game better in Washington. What I say is that we need to put an end to the game-playing.”

A stage light caught fire as Obama spoke, giving him an opening for a bit of humor.

“Uh-oh. There's a light on fire. That's not good,” he deadpanned. “Do we want to turn it off? Thank you very much. Everything OK? All right, I think we're OK. We handled that crisis. Absolutely.”