Your Turn

Submit a Question for Our Interview With Sen. Obama

Submit a Question for Sen. Obama

News and Notes has landed an interview with Democratic presidential contender and Ill. Sen. Barack Obama, and we're asking you — our listeners and readers — to submit questions about the issues that matter most.

Here's how: Submit your question via the comment box below, providing the following information: your real name, hometown,
e-mail address and phone number. Your contact information will not be made public; it will be used by News & Notes staff for the sole purpose of contacting you should your question be used on the air.

7/12/07- 9:43 AM (PT): A hearty "thank you" for your submissions, but at this time we have stopped accepting questions for Sen. Obama. Farai's interview is scheduled to happen later this afternoon; check back tomorrow — Friday,
July 13 — to hear it.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Charles Rangel has proposed the idea of a draft to solve the problem of war disproportionately affecting the poor and minorities. Is the notion of an all volunteer military out of sync with the reality that we have a society that seemingly relishes the idea of benefiting from the efforts of the few who bear the true costs of war?

Sent by Donnie Charleston | 2:19 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama:

When you say "we have to keep all options open with regard to Iran," is using nuclear weapons on Iran an option that you might consider?

Sent by Harry Pariser | 2:22 PM | 7-11-2007

My question for Obama:

- "When you become president, how long do you think it will take to turn around this currupt system? and how will this change the way we see and treat Africa"

Sent by Osazee Ebuehi | 2:24 PM | 7-11-2007

Sen. Obama,

Given the known negatives about nuclear power (huge expense, long time to build and license a plant, no safe way to dispose of radioactive waste), are you really in favor of building new nuclear plants in the US (as has been reported)?

Wouldn't a massive commitment to more decentralized safe energy (such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, etc) be a wiser strategy for our energy future?

Sent by Will Fudeman | 2:24 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama:
I realize that it's not a hot-button issue like the war in Iraq or immigration, but as a student it is something that concerns me:
As president, what would your position be on controlling or regulating the student loan industry? I just graduated from college in May, and am already $30,000 in debt. I would like to be able to go back to school to pursue a PhD, but I am afraid that costs will prevent me from doing that.

Sent by Morgan Rafalski | 2:27 PM | 7-11-2007

Regarding the recent debate at Howard University, Senator Clinton drew loud applause for her 'courageous' comments saying that if the white female population was facing the same HIV/AIDS challenges as the black female population, this country would react better. I internally applauded...then thought about it; in an twisted ironic way, I think it was actually politically safer for Hillary to make that statement (that way) than you. I now feel like bear who just narrowly escaped a trap. While what she said is true, the place and the audience provided a safe environment for her to say it. Courage needs risk to be validated, had she said it on the floor of the senate or during a prime-time debate with the world watching, i would have attributed 'courage' to her for that statement. My question to you is this, do you feel America's tolerance for racially toned language is less coming for you than for any other candidate? Do you feel the need to be careful not to appear to racially focused because you're black.

Sent by Ty Legette | 2:35 PM | 7-11-2007

My question for Obama follows on today's broadcast in which you mention the new documentary, Sicko.

What does Barack think the best plan is to fix the health care crisis in this country and take it off the backs of the middle class, of which I am a member?

I've been listening to your show today and heard the comments about Michael Moore and Sicko. I don't think anyone commenting had seen the film, so that's just a comment about the show. It irritates me to hear such blanket statements made with no real backing... especially when one of your guests said college graduates don't listen to Moore. Come on!

Thanks for the opportunity.

Sent by Mary Corder | 2:42 PM | 7-11-2007

I see the influence of big money on our elected leaders, chiefly through how we finance our political campaigns, as the chief corrupting influence in American governmenance and the number one source of public cynicism. It's how, for example, health care corporations get to participate in writing the legislation that nominally regulates them.

At election time, candidates predicatably do song and dance routines around the topic of campaign finance reform but year by year the situation worsens and nothing substantive is ever done.

What do you plan to do about it? Please don't sing or dance. Above all, please don't cite substantive things that have supposedly been done. Just look at the money you've needed to raise.

As a participant in this system, how can you possibly exert the leadership necessary to change it?

Sent by Paul Martin | 2:51 PM | 7-11-2007

As a senator for the state of Illinois, why were you not able to improve the state of the Chicago school system? What kind of legislation do you think is needed to correct the disparities between school systems that have high rates of minority students, especially in the light of recent supreme court decisions.

Sent by Gyamfua Gyamerah | 3:01 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama,
In light of the fact that no American president has ever apologized to
African Americans for the issue of slavery, would you, as the first
African American President, be willing to make that apology for an
injustice that has gone unanswered for the last 250 years?

Sent by KItty Martin | 3:08 PM | 7-11-2007

When discussions take place on any topic other than foreign policy, they focus on the family, but there is a growing number of women who are single (never married or divorced). When will the federal government acknowledge this fact and bring policies in line with reality? Current tax laws do penalize those who are single.

Sent by Lori Jackson | 4:41 PM | 7-11-2007

For as long as I can remember, most discussions of what it would be like to have a black president end with a half serious joke about assasination attempts from racists. I'm sure security is a major issue for any presidential candidate, but I wonder was this a concern that weighed heavily on your family in deciding to run? Are you taking on additional security precautions with that in mind?

On a lighter note, any thoughts on running mates for when you win the primary? I know you can't tip your hat too early, but what type of running mate are you looking for?

Sent by Melanie Hall | 4:45 PM | 7-11-2007

What do you think is the current ratio for Defense industry & Health Industry in the Federal budget?

1:1 i.e 10 Trillion for defense and health.
1:0.5- 10 Trillion for defense and 5 Trillion for health.
And other smaller ratios- 1:0.25, 1;0.025.

What should be the morally right ratio?

What is the morally wrong ratio?
Explain your answer, if you were the POTUS.

Sent by Reggie L | 4:49 PM | 7-11-2007

By January 2009 hopefully we will be out of Iraq.

If you are President at that time, what plan do you have to defeat those who are really a danger to America, al Qaeda et al?

Forgive an assumption of part of your answer, but if you plan to win their hearts and minds through diplomacy or have a better foreign policy than we have now, I submit that you cannot negotiate with people who will kill thousands of innocent people by flying planes into buildings.

What will you do to defeat those who would attack us?

Sent by carl corsi | 5:10 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama, what we want is someone to take the top concerns and not tell us that it needs to be corrected but instead tell us how the candidate plans to correct it and a time schedule for doing it. example, national health care, how would you set it up - like canada or? and when will you have it up and running? if you really have a plan you should be able to provide this informantion on this topic and others, so the people know what to expect from you if you are elected. thanks

Sent by phil hamilton Lodi, Ca 209-334-2375 | 5:27 PM | 7-11-2007

Hey Mr. Obama,

I am a sophomore in college who has worked up to 2 jobs while taking on a full course load,has a high number of loans already, and had to transfer from a tier I private university to a state college primarily because of cost, I would like to know what you would do to make college truly more affordable for students, especially lower middle class families who are by no means rich, but do not qualify as poor enough to receive a substantial amount of financial aid

Sent by Kim Campbell | 6:52 PM | 7-11-2007

I'm intrigued about the Senator's decision to participate in the "gay debate", along with Senators Clinton and Edwards (and perhaps others), on August 9. This seems either risky or savvy - it is a small, little-known network; on the other hand, the national media will most likely pick it up. Which candidate agreed first?

Sent by Amy S. | 7:07 PM | 7-11-2007

Social security and healtcare pose one of our biggest economic threats. Bernanki has addressed congress about the serious long term effects of our current system. How do you propose we reverse the path that we are on and deal with these spiraling costs?

Sent by John Sauter | 7:35 PM | 7-11-2007

What do you see to be biggest challenge faced today by American women? Why should women support you & how will you address that challenge as President?

Sent by Stephanie Guittard Scigliano | 7:54 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama:

Some of the discussion concerning immigration alludes to permitting forgiveness and citizenship for illegal aliens. Where is the discussion regarding forgiveness and restoration of voting rights to American born felons? Is this issue on your agenda? If so, what do you suppose should be done to assist felons, who have paid their debt, obtain successful reentry into American society? If this issue is not on your agenda - WHY?

Sent by Akua Speeks | 8:18 PM | 7-11-2007

I am concerned about the Prison Industrial Complex and all the ways that new laws feed the monster. Our society has found many ways to rid itself of "undesirables," many of whom are not true criminals in the usual sense, with the soft genocide of incarceration. The lack of rehabilitation and outside resources causes these folks to return to prison over and over when they fail at life in free society.
What ideas do you have for striking at the root of these problems?

Sent by Kay Craft | 8:18 PM | 7-11-2007

Hello Senator Obama:

Do you have concerns about the proposed plans for a North American Union - a Union of Canada, the US and Mexico and it's threat to our sovereignty as a nation. This is an issue I see addressed by conservative but not liberal media. What do you know about this movement? Do you think it is a necessary step in light of the growing super power status and economic strength of the EU? Would such a step help or hurt our economy? Thanks.

Grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Now living in Baltimore, Maryland
(410) 706-3632 day
(410) 337-3814 evening

Sent by Michele Hayes | 10:21 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama, where do you stand on the legalization of Marijuana strictly for medical purposes? also, how do you feel about government interference with the states that do allow it?

Sent by Will Impellizzeri | 10:27 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama, you have said that if you become President that you will install a basketball hoop in the White House. Do you happen to know where it might be most suitable? (i.e.The White House driveway or somewhere in the back of the House or maybe inside, somewhere?)

Sent by david mcweeney | 10:31 PM | 7-11-2007

Senator Obama, I am a huge supporter of yours. I am most interested in hearing about your ideas for improving access to health care while at the same time reigning in the spiraling costs of providing care.

Sent by Gary Gross | 10:36 PM | 7-11-2007

Assuming that the United States has NOT been directly attacked by a foreign nation, what circumstances would cause President Obama to take us to war? On a general basis, are there any circumstances that you can forsee that would could you to use the War Powers of the President in the absence of a Declaration of War by Congress.

Sent by Laurence K. Cantor | 10:47 PM | 7-11-2007

Question for Mr. Obama: If elected to the presidency, what actions would you take on the enormous number of executive orders written by the Bush administration and signed by President Bush? Would you dismantle them?

Sent by Britt Stokes | 10:49 PM | 7-11-2007

My question to Mr.Obama is very brief: What would you do for Africa (AIDS, war, and Poverty) if you were elected president?
Given the very opportunistic character of the U.S. diplomatic relationships, Africa has always been relegated in the rear. Do you have any plan to change that?

Sent by Bruno Georges Kamdem | 10:55 PM | 7-11-2007

I dont want to ask any question of Obama. But I do want to share the segment on the July 11th Wed. show, Is Barack Obama Black Enough?, with my political discussion group. Do you think you could put up a link to that. I cant seem to find it. I didnt know where to post this request, either. Please help, I found the discussion short, but interesting. Id like to give it another listen and share with others.

Sent by Daniel OConnor | 11:37 PM | 7-11-2007

On the "Improving our Schools" section on your website, it reads: "High-performing teachers would be eligible for pay increases of 10 to 20 percent of their base salary." What standards would be used to determine if a teacher is high-performing? How does pitting teachers against each other for pay increases help our schools? Why not strive to make teaching a career that will help people become finanically stable? Most teachers make very little money for a very hard and thankless job with many obstacles. It seems to me that you have isolated the teachers in a negative way in order to solve this very large and complex problem.

Sent by Sharon Gutowski | 12:48 AM | 7-12-2007

What are your thoughts on the cost of college education, do you have any plans to address that? Middle America is hurting the most in this country because we are not poor enough to get adequate financial aid. So our kids are getting buried under insurmountable educational loan debt.

In addition to my question I would like you to know that I respect you not because of the color of your skin but because of the content of your character. I am very saddened by the fact that so many of our black people have even raised the question regarding your blackness "are you black enough" I find many African Americans to be very divisive in regards to color. It seems that we have forgotten the essences of Martin Luther King "I have a dream speech"; that we do not wish to be judged by the color of our skin but the content of our character. There are many whites and blacks that have embraced you because of your desire to move the country in a totally different direction from any other politician in many years. Not to mention your resume--in regards to your academic achievements, political, cultural and social effectiveness. I wish you every success in this race and although I am a registered black republican, I want you to know that you already have my vote.

Sent by Jackie Swaby | 2:58 AM | 7-12-2007

On the piece about Micheal Moore's "Sicko", Micheal David Cobb, after insulting Moore's audience's education and intelligence, made the brilliant observation that the reason for Cuba's relatively good health care was obvious; Cuba is small! Its easier to provide health care in small countries! There's less people to care for! The obvious idea that smaller countries have proportionally (other things being equal) less recourses, fewer tax payers and payers for health care, wasn't discussed. Come on now, think a bit, and challenge such statements, you are on the air!

Sent by Steve Kaprielian | 3:43 AM | 7-12-2007

Dear Senator Obama,
When will you begin to counterattack the insidious and potentially destructive criticisms about your lack of experience? If they are not dealt with quickly and forcefully, by the time that you are the Party's nominee they will have taken root and become much harder to dispel. You might start by emphasizing that the Republical Party's nominee seven years ago had less than two terms of essentially part-time gubernatorial experience and all of one failed House race. You might also note that the Republican leading presently in the polls has nothing more than a mayoral position on his resume. PLEASE do not take the "high road" on this issue and thereby risk letting it become conventional wisdom.

Sent by Michael Arkelian | 3:56 AM | 7-12-2007

I am not sure if someone has already posted this question (probably has). It seems to me that many people (even myself) have been drawn to you by perhaps charisma and also by the hope of a person of color becoming the president. I think that perhaps a similar hope pulls people to Sen. Clinton.
If you were a white pres. candidate how would you be any different from the other candidates? It seems that the only thing that differentiates you from other candidates is that you are black.
How does your platform differ? How does you view for the entire nation (white, black, Latino, Arab anything) differ from others?

Sent by mariam mathew | 9:59 AM | 7-12-2007

We are probably the only industrial country in the world without sufficient usury laws. I want to know what your stance is on consumer debt in America, particularly pay day loans, the nearly unregulated credit card industry, and private student loans that cannot be expunged through bankruptcy. As our economy is dependent on our citizens overspending and using credit to do so and a college education is essential, it seems as if we are moving towards a crisis that is being ignored.

p.s. You're the first candidate I've ever sent money to.

Sent by Brandon Whitney | 10:14 AM | 7-12-2007

Will the Justice Department in an Obama administration support efforts to pursue school integration, consistent with the original Brown v Board decision? Do you see Brown policies as inconsistent with other progressive strategies to improve the educational system in lower income, urban areas (e.g. vouchers).

Sent by Gary Bennett | 10:33 AM | 7-12-2007

I am very glad that you are running as a presidential campaign that is positive and inclusive of everyone. As a gay African-American male, I am deeply disturbed by the homophobia that I experience from other African-Americans, particularly when I am told that being gay is not a civil rights issue. Do you support amending the Civil Rights Act to cover discrimination based on sexual orientation?

Sent by Sidney Trantham | 11:09 AM | 7-12-2007

Senator Obama, where do you stand on the subject of Global Warming, and what steps would you take to help correct the situation?

Sent by Heather Kahler Placerville California | 12:18 PM | 7-12-2007

Your positions seem to transcend, and yet include, the traditionally polar alternatives between "personal responsibility" (a "conservative" perspective) versus "government assistant" (a "liberal" perspective). What philosophical underpinnings inform your views that allow you to integrate both perspectives?

Sent by Glenn Klein | 12:20 PM | 7-12-2007

Senator Obama, Do you think that it is necessary to change the strategy of the US to prepare for the next century and beyond so that we can continue to be competitive in a globalized world. Please focus on the following: Transportion (Airlines, High Speed Trains), Technology, Education, Financial infrastructure (Savings, Taxes, Capital Investments).

Sent by Robin Cunningham | 12:57 PM | 7-12-2007

Dear Senator Obama, What are your views on the US's status as the only developed country who levies income tax on its citizens who earn exclusively abroad? (We are a small group, but bristle at paying double taxes on top of what we pay abroad)

Sent by john uhlenhopp | 2:27 PM | 7-12-2007

Senator Obama, in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision regarding desegregation efforts in Washington and Kentucky, and following recently published reports that Black and Latino high school graduation rates barely exceed 50%, how would you, as President, address this educational crisis?

Sent by Ron Baker, Jr. | 5:14 PM | 7-12-2007

The program "News and Notes" started as an excellent, comprehensive (NPR-level), news-based show which explored issues often ignored by other mediums. The show regularly explored issues which are very much relevant to not only Black listeners but other groups not normally exposed to the Black experience and or perspective. Unfortunately, since Farai Chideya became the host, the show has devolved into an exploration of her personal life, her specific interests, and issues from her narrow personal perspective. I often find myself yelling at the radio while listening to her pontificate endlessly about her life and experiences in the guise of asking her guests a question (which they can rarely answer in any depth because of her time limiting filibustering). I do not suspect that the average NPR listener (Black, White or other) is particularly concerned with or interested in listening to a month worth of "Hip Hop" programming, a month worth of religious explorations, weekly musical picks by N&N staff, her trip to Africa to meet family members or her long-term problems with controlling her weight, etc. While these issues may be popular on her personal site, on her blog or on BET, they certainly are no replacement for serious, intellectual explorations of the so-called war on terror, politics, education, employment, etc. Additionally, instead of hearing the daily roundtable, where timely, poignant topics are discussed by a group of educated and insightful people of color, we now hear the same type of silly "hip hop" generation related, juvenile conversations we would expect to hear on commercial radio or TV. It is hard to believe this young lady is a Harvard graduate. Please do the NPR listeners a favor and find a host who will reflect an NPR level of intellect and return this show's programming to more serious subject matter.

Sent by Robert Wells | 11:44 AM | 7-13-2007

I could not put my finger on it, but have to agree with Mr. Wells above. I may not have been so dismissive of Ms. Chideya, but I do miss the Roundtable discussion. And yes, I do not especially care for the "Hip Hop" focus. I think it may be important, but may not be so politically relevant.
I think I much prefer Tony Cox.

Sent by Thomas | 3:13 PM | 7-13-2007

Dear Farai, As much as I love the show, I am somewhat disappointed with the Obama interview. I do not think that it was necessary to bring up affirmative action or basketball. As people of African descent, we have so many other issues that are of grave importance to our communities: Violence in urban areas, K-12 education, globalization, strengthening the financial infrastructure in black communities(small business, individual investing), health care....just to name a few. Please assist us in not continuing to exist in the past but rather let us look forward and create a powerful and prosperous future.

Thanks again, love the show.

Sent by Robin Cunningham | 4:19 PM | 7-13-2007

Senator Obama:

President Clinton was dubbed the "first black president." Was that appellation correct? What does that label mean for you, who might be the true first black president? What does that distinction mean?

Sent by Jennifer Landry | 1:06 AM | 7-19-2007

Senator Obama; what will you do to stop Islam from dominating the World? Senator Obama, are you a Muslim? Senator Obama, we all know that you study in Muslims schools, so you should be Muslim. Senator Obama, do you have family who are born or converted Muslims? Senator Obama, are you planning to invite your Muslim family to the White House?

Sent by J C Delgado | 7:40 PM | 7-22-2007


My name is Trahern Jones and I am 11 years old. One of our school projects is to submit a questions to a candidate. My question for the presidental candidate is:

1. How are you going to lower the cost of Health Care for families? This issue is important to me because there are familes that can't pay for Health Care and this should never happen. We're the richest country in the world and there shouldn't be kids and families who get sick and die because they can not afford health care.
2. Are you going to stop the war or keep it going? This is important to me and I think we should stop this war because we are killing innocent people! That is just the same as murder.
Thank you - Trahern Jones - age 11 - 5th grade - Oak Point School - Eden Prairie

Sent by trahern jones | 8:38 PM | 1-22-2008

Senator Obama, I would like to know your stance on wildlife protection, for instance the aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska. Also, if you are familiar with the methods that Canada truly uses in hunting baby seals, do you support their treatment of animals, and if not what would you do as President?

Sent by Larry Cassady | 7:10 PM | 2-26-2008

I am submitting my commits at this site becaiuse I could not figure out where else to submit them.

I listen less and less to your news programs because there seems to be little of positive
value in them. I did listen to the Terry Gross program with the two former
combatants from Israel and Palestine and was heartened by it. It was followed
by an interview of the conductor of the NY Symphony which was also heartening.
I have ceased listening to most news programs including the 5 minute blurb at the
top of the hour because I am tired of hearing about suicide bombers, many people
being killed and other negative news. I long for more of the sort on the Terry Gross
program mentioned above in the regular newscasts. There must be more positive
things happening that can be reported as news and be uplifting to those like me
that are tired of the negative over and over and over again. We need to encourage
such actions by supporting peace efforts and communication between peoples
of conflicting views.

Joan Forest

Sent by Joan B. Forest | 7:04 PM | 3-11-2008

senator 0bama,i wish you the best,be strong stand fast.i know this is not easy,and you knew that when you started,you knew the risk.i hope you will win this all the way
my prayer goes to yoi,and your family

Sent by mike miami,fl | 9:55 PM | 3-21-2008

If elected what laws will you implement in protecting our wildlife and natural resources worldwide.

Sent by mike perez | 12:40 PM | 5-22-2008

Senator Obama -
What are your plans if any for Animal Rights? Also to prevent Animal Abuse and Neglect. I am deeply worried about the welfare of Animals all over the world.
Thank You for helping them!

Sent by Sara Mattingly | 2:29 PM | 9-9-2008


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