Local observers comment on candidates


Two local supporters within the Jewish community reacted to the wins in the Iowa Caucuses by Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee.

Gloria Bilchik, a Creve Coeur freelance writer and community volunteer, who had supported the nomination of Sen. Obama for several months, was very pleased with his victory in the Iowa Democratic Caucus.

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“I became involved as a volunteer supporting Sen. Obama after I looked over the field of candidates,” she said. “I feel that Obama can help reverse the trend of the past seven years in which people have grown disillusioned with government because it has not been operating well. I believe that good government can do good things, and that Obama would provide leadership for such good government,” Bilchik said.

Bilchik added that she feels that Obama “transcends issues of race; I really don’t think of him in those terms. I would be in the ideal Hillary Clinton demographic — a woman in her sixties. But I believe that the Bush and Clinton families have had enough years in the White House and it is really time for the kind of real change that Obama can bring to our country.”

Bilchik said that she had become interested in Obama after reading his autobiography, Dreams From My Father. I was very moved and impressed with his writing, and I feel that his writing is his own and very sincere.”

Asked if she saw any similarities between Obama and John F. Kennedy, Bilchik said, “Yes, they were both young when they first ran for president, but I believe that Obama at this stage is more progressive than JFK was. Kennedy at first was less progressive, and later moved in that direction, while Obama has been progressive from the very start. One thing JFK and Obama share is that Ted Sorenson, JFK’s speechwriter is on the Obama campaign team. Obama’s acceptance speech in Iowa was truly inspirational, and I feel that he will go all the way and win the nomination.”

On the Republican side, Richard Senturia was pleased with the victory of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Iowa Caucuses.

“Gov. Huckabee is on my short list of Republican candidates who I would be happy to support if he wins the nomination,” Senturia said.

Senturia is director of the Citizens for a Just and Lasting Peace, a local organization that supports “the legitimate rights of all people in the Middle East to live in peace, freedom and security.”

Senturia said, “Gov. Huckabee also strongly supports a positive U.S.-Israel relationship. His Web site is very clear and to the point in expressing his views that we are engaged in a global war against Islamic extremism, and his positions on the importance of the State of Israel as a key ally are excellent.”

“I like a lot of the things he says, including talking about energy independence. I am pretty impressed. He seems to be a guy who can appeal to people. While Fred Thompson philosophically has much appeal to me, if Mike Huckabee gets the nomination, he is someone I would be pleased to support.”

Senturia added, “I learned a lot about the positions of the candidates by going to their Web sites, including those of Huckabee, McCain, Thompson, Giuliani, Obama and Clinton. It is really astonishing to see the different positions taken by candidates on issues affecting the security of our planet, our nation and the State of Israel.”