Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama was available for five minutes Saturday afternoon to answer questions from a Daily Record/Sunday News reporter. We asked three questions of our own, then presented three questions from county residents.

Our questions

Q: Are you coming to York?

A: "I hope that I get a chance to come to York. We've got three and a half more weeks of campaigning."

Q: What do you see as the key to communities such as York getting past their history of racial discord?

A. "I think the critical thing is to start with our kids. If we're giving all children an opportunity for early childhood education and making sure there are after-school programs in place to keep kids out of trouble, that will lead to changes in attitude. When kids are happy and healthy, they don't have time for the racial bias that sometimes creeps into our communities."

Q: York County was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What's your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?

A: "I'm a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state.

But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there's a difference between science and faith. That doesn't make faith any less important than science. It just means they're two different things.


And I think it's a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don't hold up to scientific inquiry."

Questions from the public

Christine Laws, 68, of York

Q: How do you intend to get the troops home from Iraq?

A. Obama said he wants to begin an immediate process of withdrawal at a pace of about one to two brigades a month.

Assuming that he's elected and begins as soon as he takes office, that would have all U.S. troops home in about two years.

"That should give more than enough time for the Iraqi government to negotiate a settlement between the various factions. We've got to recognize that we can't sustain a $10-billion-a-month operation in Iraq without it having an impact on our own economy."

Mike Carrigan, 63, manager of Central Market in York

Q: How do you intend to lower gas prices?

A: Obama believes that the U.S. needs to increase its refinery capacity. He also believes a "more sensible" policy in the Middle East, with less threat of conflict, would bring down oil prices.

He said the cost of gas and the need to offset it is one of the reasons he's proposing a middle-class tax cut, affecting those making $75,000 per year and less.

"I think it's important for us to recognize long-term that the only way to bring down oil prices is less consumption. And that means more fuel-efficient cars."

Melissa Grove, 39, of Dallastown

Q: How do you intend to change the world from an environmental standpoint?

A: "We've got to recognize that global warming is real, it's serious, and we have to do something about it."

Obama supports a cap on the emission of the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming.

He's also proposing a plan to invest in a work force devoted to clean energy. In addition to helping the environment, he said, it would help the economy. He envisions workers from closed steel plants going back to work building solar panels.


Barack Obama's "Road to Change" bus tour will make stops in Harrisburg today and Lancaster on Monday.

Today, a town-hall meeting will be at The Forum in the State Capitol Complex at North 5th Street and Walnut Street in Harrisburg. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the program starts at 6 p.m.

Monday, a town-hall meeting will be at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in the John Barley Multi-Purpose Activity Center, 750 E. King St. in Lancaster.

Doors open at 8 a.m., and the program starts at 10 a.m.

Both events are free, but tickets are required.

For the Harrisburg event, tickets can be picked up at Obama's Harrisburg headquarters, 401 N. 2nd St. The office is open 9 a.m. to noon today. Call 238-0808 for information.

For the Lancaster event, tickets can be picked up at the Obama's Lancaster headquarters, 240 Harrisburg Pike. The office is open 1 to 9 p.m. today. Call 945-6510 for information.