Obama Tells Supporters Not To Let Up

One week before Election Day, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is laying out his case to be president. He gave a speech Monday in Canton, Ohio, that his campaign described as Obama's "closing argument." He told supporters they can't afford to slow down or let up for one day, one minute or one second.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Barack Obama is delivering what he calls his closing argument. John McCain is urging voters to think again.

MONTAGNE: One week before Election Day, the presidential candidates have been delivering those messages to Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those two states could have a lot to say about the shape of the election.

INSKEEP: If Obama were to carry them both, he could be on his way to a commanding victory.

MONTAGNE: If McCain were to win them, it would be a step toward a comeback.

INSKEEP: We're going to listen to both campaigns this morning, starting with NPR's Don Gonyea who is with the Obama campaign.

DON GONYEA: A closing argument builds on evidence presented in a case rather than introduce new facts to jurors. And as such, Barack Obama's 35-minute speech at the Canton Civic Center yesterday felt familiar. He looked back on the frigid cold day in February of '07 when he officially became a candidate.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Canton, Ohio)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Back then we didn't have much money, and we didn't have many endorsements. We weren't given much of a chance by the polls or the pundits. And we knew how steep our climb would be.

GONYEA: But after a long and fractious primary fight against Hillary Clinton, and after a general election campaign that has been at times downright ugly, and having shattered all previous fundraising records, here stood Obama, ahead in the polls and in a position to win the White House, cautioning his supporters to take nothing for granted while thanking them for choosing a new kind of politics.

Senator OBAMA: That's how we've come so far, how we've come so close, because of you. That's how we'll change this country with your help. And that's why we cannot afford to slow down or sit back. We cannot let up for one day or one minute or one second in this last week. Not now, not when there is so much at stake.

GONYEA: As he has all year, Obama praised John McCain for his service to the country, but he also accused McCain of running a campaign based not on the issues, but on tearing Obama down. And he again linked McCain to the policies of President Bush.

Senator OBAMA: At a moment like this, the last thing we can afford is four more years of the tired, worn-out old theory that says we should give more to billionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down on everybody else.

GONYEA: And in this closing argument, Obama returned to a subject that he's not been talking much about lately as the economic crisis arose: Iraq. He promised to end the war and to go after al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

Senator OBAMA: I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harms way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

GONYEA: The audience in Canton numbered just under 5,000, compared to the 100,000 Obama drew in Denver a day earlier. This event was not designed to be a big rally, but to look presidential, a stage with a simple blue curtain as a backdrop and a row of American flags behind the candidate. In the speech, Obama looked ahead to the sacrifices he says Americans will have to make as the nation deals with its serious economic problems. It then ended with a rousing call to action.

Senator OBAMA: In one week, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more chose our better history. That's what's at stake. That's what we're fighting for. And if in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and talk to your neighbors, and convince your friends; if you'll stand with me, and fight with me, and give me your vote, then I promise you, we will not just win Ohio, we will win this general election. And together we'll change this country, and we will change the world. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. Let's get to work.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

GONYEA: Barack Obama delivering his closing argument to voters yesterday in Canton, Ohio. Today, he'll be in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Don Gonyea, NPR News.

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