Obama Campaign Marches Into GOP Battlegrounds The Democratic presidential ticket put in a full day of campaigning Wednesday. Barack Obama has been mining for votes in states that have been considered Republican turf, like Indiana — which President Bush won twice. Vice presidential nominee Joe Biden began his day in Tampa.
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Obama Campaign Marches Into GOP Battlegrounds

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Obama Campaign Marches Into GOP Battlegrounds

Obama Campaign Marches Into GOP Battlegrounds

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Renee Montagne is on assignment. I'm Steve Inskeep, good morning. The presidential candidates left the stage after their second debate and returned to their long-distance attacks. John McCain is asking voters if they really know what kind of leader Barack Obama would be. Obama is working to win votes in states that Republicans have been winning for years. We begin our coverage this morning with NPR's David Greene who is following the Obama campaign.

DAVID GREENE: Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, got the early start yesterday. He was at a morning rally in Tampa where the Major League Baseball playoffs are all the rage. Biden said Obama wished he were in Florida with him.

Senator JOE BIDEN (Democrat, Delaware; Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate): But after what your Devil Rays did to the Chicago White Sox....

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Senator BIDEN: He just couldn't do it. He just couldn't do it. The man's hurting.

GREENE: Obama might be hurting over the fate of Chicago baseball, but otherwise October's been good for him. The polls have been sliding his way in some important swing states, and yesterday his strategy for keeping that going was clear, keep Joe Biden on the attack talking about how John McCain dealt with the financial meltdown.

Senator BIDEN: At 9 a.m. - this is literal - at 9 a.m. on September the 15th when everything was crashing, John McCain said, quote, "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." At 11 a.m. the same day he said that we're in a great economic crisis.

(Soundbite of crowd laughing)

Senator BIDEN: Now, that's what we Catholics call an epiphany.

(Soundbite of crowd laughing)

GREENE: Biden added this.

Senator BIDEN: The problem with John's epiphany is not that he saw the light, he saw the presidency slipping from his grasp. That's what he saw.

Senator OBAMA: The dream that so many generations have fought for feels like it's slowly slipping away.

GREENE: Obama was spending his day talking about the economy in Indiana, a state President Bush won twice. But Obama's decided to compete there, or at least to force McCain to spend more money there. Obama spoke about how people are struggling.

Senator OBAMA: You know, back in 1980 Ronald Reagan asked the electorate whether you are better off than you were four years ago. At the pace things are going right now, you're going to have to ask whether you are better off than you were four weeks ago.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

GREENE: He insisted it's not time to lose faith.

Senator OBAMA: I ask you to believe.

Unidentified Crowd Member: Right.

Senator OBAMA: Believe in yourselves, believe in each other.

Unidentified Crowd Member: Yes.

Senator OBAMA: Believe in the future we can build together.

Unidentified Crowd Member: That's right.

Senator OBAMA: Because together we cannot fail.

Unidentified Crowd Member: That's right.

Senator OBAMA: Look at this crowd here today. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian…

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Senator OBAMA: Native American, young, old, rich, poor.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Senator OBAMA: We cannot fail, not now.

GREENE: At one point, Obama used the phrase "If I'm president." His crowd wasn't pleased with the qualification.

Senator OBAMA: No, no, no, no, no, no.

(Soundbite of crowd jeering)

Senator OBAMA: No, no, no, no, no, no.

(Soundbite of crowd jeering)

Senator OBAMA: I'm superstitious. If I'm president...

GREENE: The if could come down to people like Heidi Stone and James Thompson, a couple I met after the event. They were listening to Obama through a fence because they arrived too late to get in.

Ms. HEIDI STONE: I was raised a Republican in a house full of Kennedy haters, and I'm out here today.

GREENE: Have you guys ever been to a Democratic rally before like this?

Ms. STONE: No.

GREENE: First one.

Ms. STONE: First one.

Mr. JAMES THOMPSON: I've never voted.

GREENE: Never before?

Mr. THOMPSON: Never voted.

GREENE: And you're going to this time?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yep.

GREENE: So, what is it about him that makes you get ready to vote for the first time?

Mr. THOMPSON: He's of a different political cloth. He's human.

GREENE: Heidi said she's had some trouble connecting with McCain.

Ms. STONE: When you have a wife worth a hundred million dollars, you're not really going to feel the pain of somebody making $16,000 a year.

GREENE: I asked the couple if Obama really has any shot of winning a red state like Indiana.

Mr. THOMPSON: Yes.

Ms. STONE: Yes.

GREENE: How?

Ms. STONE: Well, if I was raised as Republican, and I'm voting for him. And he didn't vote. That tells you right there there's a big shift in demographics, and something's going on.

GREENE: I'm David Greene, NPR News, traveling with the Obama campaign.

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