Obama: Middle Class Needs Wall Street Rescue

Barack Obama campaigned in Reno, Nev., Tuesday before a crowd of 12,000 people. But he didn't give a rip-roaring, crowd-pleasing speech. Instead, the Democratic presidential nominee explained why middle-class Americans have a stake in the Wall Street bailout plan.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now let's take a sampling of the Obama campaign. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA: It looked like just another big outdoor "Obama for President" rally, this one on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. Bright sunshine, 12,000 people. But Obama cautioned that this would not be a, quote, "rip-roaring campaign speech." That wouldn't be appropriate, he said, given the events of the day before. Speaking for some 40 minutes, he never once mentioned John McCain. Instead, he spent much of his time offering a sobering explanation of why middle-class Americans with all their justifiable outrage and anger have a great deal riding on the rescue package.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Nominee): And it wasn't just the wealth of a few CEOs on Wall Street. The 401(k)s and retirement accounts that millions of people count on for their families' futures are now smaller.

GONYEA: He said state pension funds of teachers and government employees lost billions of dollars.

Senator OBAMA: Hardworking Americans who invested their nest egg to watch it grow are now watching it disappear.

GONYEA: He continued a grim litany, saying families will have a harder time getting loans for things like college. Businesses will have a harder time getting credit to make payroll or to pay suppliers.

Senator OBAMA: What it means is that thousands of businesses could close around the country. Millions of jobs could be lost. A long and painful recession could follow.

GONYEA: Obama said if Congress can't get a rescue deal passed, the consequences would be disastrous. He also called on Democrats and Republicans who voted against the package on Monday to step up with ideas they have.

Senator OBAMA: It's not a time for politicians to concern themselves with the next election. It's a time for all of us to concern ourselves with the future of the country that we love. This is a time for action.

(Soundbite of cheers and applause)

GONYEA: Today, Senator Obama holds a rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he'll talk about the new plan just before heading back to Washington to vote on it. Don Gonyea, NPR News, in La Crosse.

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