Obama's Campaign Rallies In Va., N.C.

After Friday's debate, the Obama campaign headed south of the Mason Dixon line to states that have long been Republican. The Obama campaign aims to put McCain on the defensive about the economy.

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DON GONYEA: This is Don Gonyea traveling with the Obama campaign, which got on the road early yesterday morning after the debate, traveling to a pair of rallies south of the Mason Dixon line, states that have long been reliably Republican. Here's the candidate just past noon.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Nominee): Thank you, North Carolina! It's good to be back. I love North Carolina.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering and chanting "Obama")

GONYEA: And then early in the evening he was in the town of Fredericksburg.

Senator OBAMA: It is a thrill to be here, back in Virginia, because I think we may just turn Virginia blue this time.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

GONYEA: Obama's theme all day Saturday was Friday night's debate with John McCain, and he went straight to McCain's handling of the crisis facing the U.S. financial system.

Senator OBAMA: He talked about the economy for 40 minutes, and not once did Senator McCain talk about the struggles of middle-class families. Not once did he talk about what they're facing every day right here in North Carolina and around the country. He defended the plan to give $300 billion in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, but he had nothing to say about the fact that wages have flat lined and jobs are being shipped overseas. He didn't have anything to say about that.

GONYEA: In both Greensborough and in Fredericksburg, Obama followed with this new punch line.

Senator OBAMA: The truth is through 90 minutes of debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he had nothing to say about you. He didn't even say the word middle class. Didn't say the word working people. See, I think Senator McCain just doesn't get it.

GONYEA: The Obama campaign's clear goal is to put Senator McCain permanently on the defensive about the economy. Polls show the public has more confidence in Obama than McCain on what has become the number one issue this year, and the Democratic nominee is trying to exploit that. Later on Saturday giving his one speech of the day via satellite to the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, McCain did add a reference to the middle class when talking about the need to reach a deal to rescue financial institutions.

Meanwhile, yesterday Obama was joined on the trail by his running mate, Joe Biden. Biden made no mention of his own upcoming debate four days from now with Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Today, Obama and Biden will campaign together again in Detroit. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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