Obama Campaigns For 16th Time In Nevada

Barack Obama is counting on economic frustration and rural organizing efforts to help him carry the state of Nevada in November. Appearing in the state's rural northeast, he said his economic plan will lower taxes — and noted that he supports their right to own guns. Wednesday's visit with Obama's 16th trip to Nevada.

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SCOTT HORSLEY: And I'm Scott Horsley with Barack Obama.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN RALLY IN ELKO, NEVADA)

BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, Elko. It is good to be back in Elko.

HORSLEY: This was Obama's third visit to the small town of Elko, Nevada, in the rural northeastern part of the state. He told supporters gathered around picnic tables in the town's main park, he's practically an honorary Elkonian.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN RALLY IN ELKO, NEVADA)

OBAMA: I just got a football shirt from the football team in Elko, the Elko High School Indians. And so, the - it was about two sizes too big. I'm kind of a skinny guy.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD LAUGHING)

OBAMA: I think it's a lineman shirt.

HORSLEY: Obama told supporters he's counting on them to serve as his own offensive line, helping to make his case in a part of the state where Democrats rarely campaign. Four years ago, John Kerry largely ignored rural Nevada and lost the state by two and a half percentage points. Obama thinks rural supporters can help him make up that gap by talking with their friends and neighbors, including the Republicans.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN RALLY IN ELKO, NEVADA)

OBAMA: I want you to argue with them and get in their face. And if they tell you that, well, we're not sure where he stands on guns, I want you to say he believes in the Second Amendment. If they tell you, well, he's going to raise your taxes, you say, no, he's not. He's going to lower them. You are my ambassadors.

HORSLEY: According to the Tax Policy Center, Obama's economic plan would provide a bigger tax break than John McCain's for 80 percent of Americans. Neil Frakes(ph) is eager to make the senator's case in his hometown of Ely, Nevada, about 180 miles away.

NEIL FRAKES: Well, we are all rural Nevadans in this part of Nevada. So if you're outside of Las Vegas, particularly in Reno, you're probably considered a rural Nevadan.

HORSLEY: Obama also got a vote of support from Lois Whitney. A Native American and lifelong resident of Elko, she's not impressed by McCain's effort to paint Obama as out of touch with small town voters.

LOIS WHITNEY: I think he's a lot like us. He's down to earth. He's just an average guy, and I think he'll make a damn good president.

HORSLEY: Nevada has suffered the nation's highest foreclosure rate for more than a year and a half. Obama says while the fallout of the mortgage mess is just now coming to a head on Wall Street, people on lots of other streets have been struggling for a long time.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN RALLY IN ELKO, NEVADA)

OBAMA: And I don't need to tell you folks here in Elko that your paychecks don't go as far as they used to. It has never been harder to save, or retire, to buy gas, or to buy groceries.

HORSLEY: Obama says he's confident that America can fix its broken economy, but only by breaking with the hands-off approach to governing the economy that's ruled for the last eight years.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN RALLY IN ELKO, NEVADA)

OBAMA: We can't steer ourselves out of this crisis by heading in the same direction.

Unidentified Man: Amen.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD OVATION)

HORSLEY: Obama says despite McCain's maverick reputation, his Republican rival would essentially continue the tax policy and the economic philosophy of the Bush administration. Obama ridiculed McCain for promising this week to shake up the old boys' network in Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN RALLY IN ELKO, NEVADA)

OBAMA: This is somebody who's been in congress for 26 years, who put seven of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign. And now he tells us that he's the one who's going to take on the old boys' network. The old boys' network. In the McCain campaign, that's called a staff meeting.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD LAUGHING)

HORSLEY: Obama will continue to press that case today in another Western state both parties are contesting, New Mexico. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Albuquerque.

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