RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This week, we're pausing to take in the sights and sounds of campaign rallies for both presidential candidates. Yesterday, we heard from voters who flocked to see John McCain in North Carolina. This morning, NPR's David Greene takes us on a tour of Barack Obama's rally over the weekend in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
DAVID GREENE: One thing you notice at Obama's rallies is all the young faces.
You drove like two hours this morning?
Unidentified Student: Yep. She drove.
Ms. DANIELLE EDMONDSON (Student, East Carolina University): She slept two hours.
Unidentified Student: Well, I slept.
Ms. EDMONDSON: She slept two hours.
GREENE: Danielle Edmondson is with a group of students from East Carolina University. They stand out in their purple ECU T-shirts. Danielle's a freshman and has spent months volunteering for Obama. She says she's here for some kind of thank you.
Ms. EDMONDSON: I better meet him today. I better get a hug. I better get something.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. EDMONDSON: Or him just being president. That'll work for me.
Unidentified Woman: It's first come, first served. We have some people that got here at 11 p.m. last night. So we're going to move as quick as we can to get everyone we know can get in in.
GREENE: It's a long line and a long wait, and people offer different reasons for being here. Brenda McQuitty works at nearby Fort Bragg. She says she's been thinking about marching with her mom, four decades ago, during the civil rights movement.
Ms. BRENDA MCQUITTY: I'm doing it for her because my mother's passed. So I know that she would have loved to have been here. So I knew that I had to get up so that I could be here, since she couldn't.
GREENE: Then there's Charlie Ross. He works in the auto industry. He says he was a McCain guy, but got turned off by the Republican's ads.
Mr. CHARLIE ROSS: The negative ads were very bad. I'm just a strong believer you should never, not even in my industry, you don't talk bad about one brand of car to make yours look good.
(Soundbite of national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner")
Unidentified Singer: Oh say can you see...
GREENE: The rally is taking place inside the Crown Center in Fayetteville. The arena hosts everything from the county fair to an oyster roast. It's also home to the Fayetteville Fire Ants, a pro-hockey team. Today, it's home to politics.
Ms. DEBORAH BLACKMON: There's excitement in the air, the hope, the love.
GREENE: Deborah Blackmon's in a powder-blue Obama hat, standing at her seat alone and passing the time with everyone else doing the wave.
Ms. BLACKMON: Whoa, thank you. I thought he was in the house. But his spirit is just in the house.
GREENE: Before Obama actually enters the house, other people come onstage to deliver a serious message that, for all the hype and excitement, there's one important detail left.
State Senator TONY RAND (Democrat, North Carolina): Because unless we vote, this doesn't matter. And this matters a whole lot...
GREENE: That's state Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand. Campaign organizer Kenisha Williams pounds the message by talking about the last eight years.
Ms. KENISHA WILLIAMS (Campaign Organizer, Obama Campaign): But I've learned that if you're going to be angry at the world, be angry with an objective.
GREENE: The polls in North Carolina are already open for early voting, she says.
Ms. WILLIAMS: Pull out your pen and paper. From 1 to 5 p.m., Cumberland County Board of Elections, 301 East Russell Street...
GREENE: Then, it's time for the main event.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Nominee): What an amazing crowd. Thank you so much for the wonderful welcome.
(Soundbite of crowd ovation)
GREENE: I'm keeping my eye on Deborah Blackmon in that powder-blue hat. She listens to every word from Obama and afterwards says she got what she came for.
Senator OBAMA: God bless you. God bless the United States of America.
Ms. BLACKMON: We're leaving here with new energy to take back to the people we know that didn't come here.
GREENE: They break it down pretty quickly here. It gets quiet fast.
Ms. BLACKMON: Yeah, it does.
GREENE: These rallies have so much buildup, but when that stump speech is done, it's over. The candidate heads for his plane, and only a few people are lingering, like Tremayne Smith. He's part of that East Carolina University crew that's been working for Obama on their campus.
Mr. TREMAYNE SMITH (Student, East Carolina University): You know, registering voters can be tedious. You're in the hot sun, there's no cameras around, there's no music. It's just raw. And sometimes you need a boost of energy like this, and seeing Obama every time gives me, like, a jolt.
GREENE: He's hoping that jolt will keep his energy going another two weeks. David Greene, NPR News.
MONTAGNE: And to see a photo essay from recent presidential rallies in North Carolina, go to npr.org.
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