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Here's a lesson in the 2008 presidential electoral map. When Barack Obama was at his convention last week, John McCain was spending time in the critical state of Ohio. Now that John McCain is at his Republican convention, Barack Obama is spending time in the critical state of Ohio. NPR's Audie Cornish is with the Obama campaign.

AUDIE CORNISH: Gabrielle Nevin, a single mom and student on the Kent State Tuscarawas campus, set the tone for the event, introducing Obama through her own story.

Ms. GABRIELLE NEVIN (Student, Kent State Tuscarawas): I believe that this man right here, Barack Obama, understands my struggle because he has seen it firsthand as he was raised by a single mother who was juggling school and work. And I heard he has a plan to help women like me.

CORNISH: More than 200 people, mostly women, turned out for the invitation-only event on the economy. It was set in a campus garden courtyard. Obama evoked the experiences of Nevin, his own mother, his grandmother and even his two daughters in drawing out his connections to issues that affect working women.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): And yet we still have a situation where women are making $.77 to every dollar that a man makes on the job. Which is why - that's right, boo. And that's why what I've said is that when I am president of the United States, we are going to pass equal pay for equal work. It is a simple principle. It is a basic principle. It is one we are going to make sure is in place when I'm president of the United States of America.

CORNISH: Obama followed that up with a hit list of economic platform issues, including his pledge to cut taxes for 95 percent of the middle class, and his plan to generate jobs for the economy by spending federal dollars on boosting green technology and rebuilding America's roads, bridges and other aging infrastructure.

Sen. OBAMA: And if people tell you we can't do it, you just remember that we are spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when the Iraqis have $79 billion in surplus that they have parked in a New York bank account and are getting interest for. And I don't think that makes much sense.

CORNISH: Obama battled over women voters with Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and will likely face another challenge with the introduction of Governor Palin to the GOP ticket. Obama managed not to utter Palin's name more than twice all day, although it was clear that the Republican vice-presidential nominee wasn't too far from his mind.

Sen. OBAMA: People ask me: What have you learned about America as you've traveled through 49 states? The one I've missed was Alaska, which, you know, I'm thinking now I should have gone up there.

CORNISH: Later in the day, Obama attended a barbecue across the state. He stood before hay bales and sunflowers doubled over from the heat, and he gave rural voters an earful about his rivals.

Sen. OBAMA: Everybody talked about John McCain's biography, but nobody talked about how are you going to make the middle class more stable and more solid? And how are you going to create jobs? And how are you going to grow the economy? Nobody talked about that. And I wouldn't either, I guess, if I had the same record they had over the last eight years.

CORNISH: Voters here say Obama will need to keep up those jabs if he wants to win over the state his predecessor failed to capture in the past few general elections. Audie Cornish, NPR News, traveling with the Obama campaign.

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