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The truth is, Senator Obama says, sometimes Democrats need to listen to Republicans and vice versa. "The country's not as divided as Washington seems," he says. "I think conservatives are more tolerant than we make them out to be. Liberals are concerned about values, contrary to what conservatives say."

The key to unifying America is finding a common ground. "We have these powerful values that are in common in terms of self reliance and hard work and honesty and kindness—all the things our mothers and grandmothers taught us," he says. "If we can get those values expressed in our politics, then I think we can actually start solving problems instead of arguing and bickering all the time."

Senator Obama says lessons his mother taught him as a child continue to steer his politics today. "My mother taught me empathy—the basic concept of standing in somebody else's shoes and looking through their eyes. If I did something messed up, she'd just say, 'How would that make you feel if somebody did that to you?' That ends up being, I think, at the center of my politics, and I think that should be the center of all our politics. If we see a child who's languishing in an inner-city school, how would we feel if that was our child?"
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FROM: Barack Obama on the Tough Questions
Published on October 18, 2006

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