On The Trail With Obama

Barack Obama toured factories this week, trying to reach out to blue-collar voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

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AUDIE CORNISH: And I'm Audie Cornish with the Obama campaign. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama spent nearly all of his time on the trail this week trying to make headway with the white, working-class voters he failed to reach during the primaries. He toured factories like this glass manufacturer just outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Unidentified Man: That's true. And some glass pipes...

CORNISH: And in his speech to workers here, Obama pointed to the record unemployment rate and claimed John McCain and the Republicans had nothing to offer on the economy.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee): John McCain, the other day, said that he thought that the economy was fundamentally sound, the fundamentals of the economy were sound. Now, what's more fundamental than having a job?

CORNISH: But when Obama took questions from the audience, the economy took a back seat, especially when voter Joan O'Neal(ph) voiced doubts about another issue.

Ms. JOAN O'NEAL (Glass Manufacturer Factory Worker, Pennsylvania): But there's one thing that seems to really be bothering people.

Senator OBAMA: Right.

Ms. O'NEAL: There's rumors going around.

Senator OBAMA: Oh no. There's so many rumors. Let's see which one you're talking about.

Ms. O'NEAL: This one I know. That you're going to take away the guns. Because people love hunting.

CORNISH: Obama said the Second Amendment is a right he would not undermine. But it later prompted the senator to play defense against other unspoken doubts.

Senator OBAMA: The temptation is to say, you know what? I don't - the guy hasn't been there that long in Washington. You know, he's got a funny name. We're not sure about him. And that's what the Republicans, when they say this isn't about issues, it's about personalities, what they're really saying is, we're going to try to scare people about Barack.

CORNISH: Obama ran through the list of innuendoes that he's Muslim, or connected to radicals, or unpatriotic. He told voters, ignore the attacks.

Senator OBAMA: If you give me this opportunity, I promise you we are not going to solve everything overnight. But at least you're going to have somebody in the White House who's waking up every day thinking about you and your lives and your kids' lives and your grandkids' lives. And I think that's how change is going to start in America.

CORNISH: With that, he wrapped-up Pennsylvania and prepared to take on the next round of voters in Indiana today. Audie Cornish, NPR News.

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