Barack Obama thinks that America needs a president who is more a stranger than an insider when it comes to the capital's way of doing business.
"We don't need somebody who can play the game better," the Illinois senator told about 600 people in a high school gym in this northern New Hampshire town. "We need somebody to put an end to the game plan."
Obama seemed to be directing his comments at New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who often suggests that her husband Bill Clinton's administration gave her valuable experience in addition to her time in the Senate. Clinton, also campaigning in New Hampshire on Monday, leads in polls of likely Democratic voters, but Obama is making a push in the first-primary state. TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey will campaign with him here and in Iowa next month.
Some presidential contenders "have been in Washington too long," said Obama, who has been in the Senate three years. He said his time as a community worker in Chicago, law professor and Illinois legislator gave him vital experiences without making him dependent on lobbyists and special interests.
As for Washington experience, he said, "a long resume doesn't mean good judgment." He cited Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying "they led us into the worst foreign policy disaster in a generation," meaning the Iraq war.
Obama, who was warmly received by the pro-Democratic audience, said the federal government should do more to help people pay for college, buy health insurance and avoid mortgages that prove hard to pay off. Two million Americans risk losing their homes, he said, "because many of them were offered deceptive loans."
"Where was our government to make sure consumers weren't getting gouged in the financial markets?" he said.