Obama Gets Campaign Help from Rays, Hillary

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is on a two-day swing through Florida, which voted for President Bush in 2004. Obama got some campaign help Monday from members of the Tampa Bay Rays, who hours before clinched their first trip to the World Series, and later from former rival Hillary Clinton.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. Barack Obama and John McCain are hunting for votes in big, battleground states. Lately, it seems they've been tracing each other's paths across the electoral map. Yesterday, they focused on a pair of states that have gone Republican twice in a row. McCain was in Missouri; Obama was in Florida. We have two reports, first with Don Gonyea traveling with the Obama campaign.

DON GONYEA: Barack Obama held two events in the hotly contested Sunshine State Monday. At each, there was a very special guest or more. In Tampa, the town has baseball fever. Barely 12 hours earlier, the once-lowly Tampa Bay Rays had clinched a trip to their first World Series. So how do you get crazed fans to think about politics on the morning after? Well, you hold the rally on a baseball diamond and...

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally in Tampa, Florida)

Unidentified Announcer: To introduce the next president of the United States, please welcome American League champs: the Tampa Bay Rays.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

GONYEA: Six members of the team took to the stage, including star outfielder Fernando Perez, who made a pitch for early voting, which started yesterday in Florida.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally in Tampa, Florida)

Mr. FERNANDO PEREZ (Baseball Player, Tampa Bay Rays): Barack Obama can win this election.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Mr. PEREZ: But he can't do it without your help.

GONYEA: Obama made his entrance, exchanging hugs and high fives with the players.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally in Tampa, Florida)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Arizona; Democratic Presidential Candidate): So when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back, you know we're onto something right here.

GONYEA: Later in the day, it was another rally at twilight with 50,000 people in Orlando. The guest this time?

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally in Orlando, Florida)

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): Thank you. Thank you, Orlando.

GONYEA: Senator Hillary Clinton, making her first joint appearance with Obama since July. During the primaries, Clinton was very popular among working-class voters and senior citizens. Florida has lots of each. She reached out to those who once backed her candidacy.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally in Orlando, Florida)

Senator CLINTON: If you made phone calls for me, make them for Barack. If you walked streets for me, make them for Barack. If you talked to your friends and your neighbors, do it again for Barack. We cannot risk four more years of the same failed Republican policies.

GONYEA: Today, Obama continues to work Florida with events in Palm Beach and Miami. Don Gonyea, NPR News.

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