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A Disability Czar for Obama?

In January 2008, two representatives from Barack Obama's campaign held a conference call (pdf) with disability advocates to talk about the candidate's platform on a variety of issues. It's several months old at this point, but because disability issues are a bigger part of the campaign than they once were, I though it'd be interesting to share the transcript with those who may not have seen it yet.

Rep. Janice Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois and a co-chairwoman of the campaign participated in the conversation, along with Michael Strautmanis, Obama's chief counsel and the father of three children, one of whom has autism.

(Funny note: this story in the Chicago Reader suggests that Strautmanis is helping Obama lock up the Latvian-American vote, as a Latvian-African-American.)

Some of the conference call compares Obama's policy proposals to Hillary Clinton's, which is no longer relevant at this point. However, what caught my eye was a proposal from Obama to create "an assistant to the president for disability policy." The call also mentioned that Obama has two senior advisers who have children with disabilities; though only Strautmanis was mentioned, I'm assuming the other is political strategist David Axelrod, who has a daughter with developmental disabilities caused by severe epilepsy.

You can find out more about Obama's disability policy proposals here (pdf). It is comprehensive, but the elephant in the room continues to be the precarious state of the economy. My colleague Alyson Klein at the Campaign K-12 blog has a recent post on how the proposed $700 billion economic bailout of Wall Street may affect both the Obama and McCain campaigns.

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