Obama: No warrantless wiretaps if you elect me

The front-running Democrat in the New Hampshire primary makes the promise in one last stump speech at an election day rally with the Facebook generation.

Sen. Barack Obama slams President Bush's warrantless wiretap program at Dartmouth College in his last public appearance before the polls close here in New Hampshire. Declan McCullagh/News.com

HANOVER, N.H.--Barack Obama may be leading the Democratic presidential pack in every major poll here, but that didn't dissuade the Illinois senator from a final early-morning rally with the Facebook generation.

Clearly not content to leave their votes to the whims of online politicking, the Illinois senator stepped onto a stage fashioned in a Dartmouth College gymnasium, pulled an index card from his inside jacket pocket, and launched into a familiar set of talking points centered on what has become a familiar theme for his campaign: change and hope.

"My job this morning is to be so persuasive...that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack," he told a crowd of about 300 Ivy Leaguers--and, by the looks of it, a handful of locals who managed to gain access to what was supposed to be a students-only event.

For one thing, under an Obama presidency, Americans will be able to leave behind the era of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and "wiretaps without warrants," he said. (He was referring to the lingering legal fallout over reports that the National Security Agency scooped up Americans' phone and Internet activities without court orders, ostensibly to monitor terrorist plots, in the years after the September 11 attacks.)

It's hardly a new stance for Obama, who has made similar statements in previous campaign speeches, but mention of the issue in a stump speech, alongside more frequently discussed topics like Iraq and education, may give some clue to his priorities.

In our own Technology Voters' Guide, when asked whether he supports shielding telecommunications and Internet companies from lawsuits accusing them of illegal spying, Obama gave us a one-word response: "No."

(Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Republican Ron Paul, for their part, came to the same conclusion in our survey.)

Barack Obama's audience at Dartmouth College was receptive but, compared to other political events in the state in the last week, relatively small. Declan McCullagh/News.com

At the event, which was interrupted for about 10 minutes when a woman in the audience felt faint and was carried out on a stretcher, Obama also spent a few moments on another cause that's important to most of his competitors, regardless of party affiliation: the need to "break from the tyranny of fossil fuels" and the "addiction to foreign oil" in favor of a "green economy" built on alternative sources like solar, wind and biodiesel.

"We are going to save this planet, and you are going to help us do it because you are going to be voting today," he predicted.

Already 5 to 13 points ahead in the polls, depending on which ones you consult, Obama may not have needed to air the tried-and-true speech yet again. And thanks to springlike temperatures--a stark contrast from last week's subzero blitz--New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner reportedly predicted a record turnout of half a million voters before the polls close at 7 p.m. (and a few at 8 p.m.) EST Tuesday.

 

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