Obama Hits The Campaign Trail

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Sen. Barack Obama campaigned in Pennsylvania on Friday. Despite an initial statement from his campaign questioning Sarah Palin's experience to be John McCain's running mate, Obama called her selection an indicator "this country is moving forward."

DON GONYEA: This is Don Gonyea in the town of Beaver in Western Pennsylvania where Barack Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, campaigned together the day following the wrap-up of the Democratic convention. When word broke yesterday that John McCain had picked Governor Palin, the Obama campaign issued an immediate and tough statement from Press Secretary Bill Burton that said, quote, "Today John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency." Just a few hours later, Senator Obama was touring a biodiesel factory not far from Pittsburgh when reporters asked about Palin. His tone was markedly less combative. He said she seems a compelling person with a terrific personal story. He then added...

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Nominee): But the fact that she's been nominated, I think - or will soon be nominated, I think is one more indicator of this country moving forward. The fact that you've got a woman as the nominee of one of the - vice presidential nominee of one of the major parties, I think is one more hit against that glass ceiling. And I congratulate her and look forward to a vigorous debate.

GONYEA: Still, it wasn't all conciliatory. Obama said that John McCain wants to take the country in the wrong direction and that he assumes Palin agrees with McCain's policies. The two Democrats held one big public rally yesterday. Here's Biden last night in Beaver.

Senator JOE BIDEN (Democrat, Delaware; Vice-Presidential Nominee): When Barack Obama asked me to join him in this effort to literally fundamentally change this country, I was excited and happy to accept his offer to join him.

GONYEA: Biden did not mention his counterpart on the Republican ticket, nor did Senator Obama. But Obama did extol the virtues of his own running mate, citing Biden's deep foreign policy experience including his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Certainly it was a reminder designed to highlight just one contrast with Palin who has no foreign policy experience. But in this state, Pennsylvania, that has been hard-hit by job losses, Obama mostly focused on the economy.

Senator OBAMA: Joe Biden and I, we've got a - we've got a fundamentally different view of what progress means. And that is, is it helping you a little bit to live out your dream? That's why we've got a tax plan that says we're going to cut taxes for 95 percent of American families, so you've got a little more money in your pocket to maybe buy a computer for your kid, or save for retirement, or put into that college savings bond.

GONYEA: Look for a similar message when Obama and Biden campaign together in Ohio and Michigan today and tomorrow. Then, when the Republican convention gets under way in Saint Paul next week, Obama will continue to campaign and to highlight the differences he and Biden have with the brand new McCain-Palin ticket. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Beaver, Pennsylvania.

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