Obama Tells Supporters To Vote Early

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama spent the weekend in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, trying to turn those states blue. They went for President Bush in 2004. Obama has been urging the huge crowds that turn out at his rallies to vote early.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Renee Montagne is off today. I'm Steve Inskeep, good morning. Glance at the electoral map and you see the possibility of a big change from four years ago. You know the kind of map I'm talking about, with the red and blue states. You can see one at npr.org. Back in 2004, the South was solid red Republican and so was the interior West. This year in those regions, at least half a dozen states are within range for Democrat Barack Obama. Over the weekend, Obama campaigned in two of those states, Nevada and New Mexico. Then he turned up in Denver, Colorado, where he accepted the Democratic nomination earlier this year. NPR's Don Gonyea is following Obama through what was the Republican base.

DON GONYEA: Two months ago, Senator Obama was here for the Democratic National Convention. And on the final night, his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium drew more than 80,000 people. Yesterday was no such special occasion, just another day on the stump, but not to the more than 100,000 who showed up on a chilly afternoon under clear, blue skies.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Denver, Colorado)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Now let me just ask something. Do you ever have small crowds in Denver?

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

GONYEA: The Obama campaign sees early voting now under way in most states, including Colorado, as kind of a secret weapon harnessing the enthusiasm of these huge crowds and getting their votes in the bank.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Denver, Colorado)

Senator OBAMA: How many people have early voted?

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator OBAMA: That's what I'm talking about. That's what I'm talking about. No point waiting in lines if you don't have to. You know who you're going to vote for.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator OBAMA: Go to the polls.

GONYEA: Then he adds this as an added incentive to vote early.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Denver, Colorado)

Senator OBAMA: But Senator McCain voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time over the last eight years. Just the other day, George Bush returned the favor and voted early for John McCain.

GONYEA: The rest of the speech Obama gives is almost entirely about the economy, about the anxiety people have over mortgage foreclosures, declining property values, and about the frightening numbers in the 401(k) reports they've been getting in the mail. Boil down his economic message, and it's basically that a president John McCain would simply be more of President Bush. This is from Fort Collins yesterday in front of 50,000 people.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Fort Collins, Colorado)

Senator OBAMA: Keep in mind that for the last eight years we've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way. We actually have an experiment in their economic theories over the last eight years. They have been tested. They have been found wanting.

GONYEA: If there's anything unusual in this stump speech, it's that with barely a week to go, Obama always winds up with words of warning. An effort to prepare the public for what may be asked of them as the nation climbs back from the crisis at hand.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Fort Collins, Colorado)

Senator OBAMA: The change we need is not going to come easy. It's not going to come overnight. I mean, this administration has dug a deep hole for us. We've got a lot of debt, and we've got a lot of problems. And we're all going to need to tighten our belts, and we're all going to need to sacrifice.

GONYEA: In the crowd, 43-year-old Yvonne Purchis(ph) says it's about time. She says people other than military families were never asked to sacrifice as the nation went to war in Iraq.

Ms. YVONNE PURCHIS: The sacrifice on a personal basis, I think, you know, it's speaking to folks because they are feeling the pinch. And some folks feel like they've sacrificed maybe a little bit more than others. So now it's time, you now.

GONYEA: President Bush carried Colorado handily twice. But for weeks now, polls have put Obama ahead. The campaign warned supporters not to take anything for granted, but 53-year-old Steve Danvill(ph) says he thinks the state will go Democratic this year.

Mr. STEVE DANVILL: This state has been flipping for the last three years anyway, I think. We've gotten a Democratic senator now and a Democratic governor, and both our Statehouse and our state senator flipped recently. So I think it's just a continuous change that's going on. And this state is getting bluer every year.

GONYEA: In Fort Collins, the vivid fall colors and the cold temperatures were just more signs that time is running short in the campaign. At this point, every rally takes on greater meaning. That's why Obama will be back in Ohio today in the swing state that put President Bush over the top in '04. Then it's on to Pennsylvania, four elections in a row a blue state, and the last big Democratic prize that McCain hopes to take away. Don Gonyea, NPR News.

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