NEW YORK — A landslide victory over GOP presidential nominee John McCain and Republican congressional candidates is essential to “realign the political balance of forces and set the stage to move in a new direction with a new agenda and with a new sense of hope.”

This was the theme expressed by Sam Webb, national chairman of the Communist Party USA, in his main report to a meeting of the CPUSA’s National Committee at Winston Unity Center here March 29-30.

Webb hailed the Democratic turnout, twice that of Republicans in the primaries. He praised Clinton and Obama supporters for vowing to vote for the Democratic nominee in November. But Obama is leading the insurgent movement uniting African Americans, Latinos and whites, people of all faiths, immigrant and native born in the biggest voter upsurge in decades, Webb said. Obama’s call for unity, most recently in his “More Perfect Union” speech, “strikes a deep responsive chord far and wide. After three decades of acrimonious rancor and division, people yearn for a kinder, gentler and more just country.”

Clinton is “playing a dangerous game” in suggesting that she and McCain are fit to be “Commander in Chief” but not Obama, Webb continued. Clinton supporters should demand that she redirect her fire at McCain and the Republicans.

Webb called on the Communist Party’s members and friends to be fully engaged in the electoral process.

Joelle Fishman, who chairs the party’s Political Action Commission, branded McCain “a favorite of the military industrial complex … of Wall Street” who must be exposed. She also urged focus on House and Senate races to create a “veto proof” Democratic majority on Capitol Hill.

A drive is under way, she said, to register African American voters. In states like South Carolina and Georgia, a maximum Black vote “could flip those states from ‘red’ to ‘blue,’” she added. Latino voter organizations seek to enroll 11 million new voters, while “Women’s Voices. Women Vote” is targeting 15 million unmarried women who do not vote.

Fishman also called for fightback against GOP attempts to railroad through the repressive SAVE Act, a clear election ploy to whip up fear of immigrants.

Erica Smiley, national coordinator of the Young Communist League, said the youth vote has “tripled and quadrupled. Young people are simply fed up and ready for change.” She said the YCL has joined a Youth Voter Collective seeking to maximize youth turnout in November.

CPUSA Organization Secretary Elena Mora called for combining work in the elections with building party membership.. “I think our focus must be on the forces, organizations, and sections of the people coming together around the election campaign,” she said.

Judith LeBlanc, an antiwar leader, said the peace movement’s seven years of struggle against the Bush-Cheney regime helped set the stage for the current upsurge. Peace activists are popularizing the slogan, “Obama is for peace,” she said, helping draw these forces into the election.

Art Perlo, who heads the party’s Economic Commission, said Congress must enact a moratorium on foreclosures and extend jobless benefits, the SCHIP children’s health program and food stamps to deal with the “economic tsunami” engulfing the people. These battles expose Bush, McCain and GOP lawmakers who block these measures and bolster Democrats who vote for them, Perlo said.

Marc Brodine, chair of the Washington State CP, delivered a special report on global warming. The problem is not individuals with little control over sources of greenhouse emissions, he said, “but a system that privileges profit over people and nature.” The earth has already passed “tipping points” and immediate, drastic action is needed, he said.

Scott Marshall, chair of the CPUSA Labor Commission, reported on a CPUSA-sponsored conference on the collapse of manufacturing. The stress was on creating “green jobs” that also reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.

Later, Marshall paid tribute to veteran party leader George Edwards on his 90th birthday. Edwards was a founder of the United Steelworkers of America and is now a leader of the USWA retiree group, SOAR. Many younger comrades learned trade unionism from George Edwards, Marshall said. Edwards stood. “Look after yourself,” he told the crowd, “because life just keeps getting better and better.”