Obama Rallies In Missouri If Barack Obama was hoping to send a message that he's got a shot at winning Missouri, he succeeded, drawing huge crowds Saturday to his rallies in Kansas City and St. Louis.
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Obama Rallies In Missouri

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Obama Rallies In Missouri

Obama Rallies In Missouri

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Both presidential candidates campaigned yesterday, John McCain in Virginia and North Carolina, Barack Obama in Missouri. All three states voted for President Bush twice. We have two reports from the frontlines this morning, beginning with NPR's Don Gonyea who was with Obama campaign yesterday in Missouri.

DON GONYEA: If Barack Obama was hoping to send a message that he's got a shot at winning Missouri, he succeeded. Last night, he was in Kansas City and drew some 75,000 people. But that wasn't even the biggest rally Obama held in Missouri yesterday, because Saturday noon in St. Louis, 100,000 people came out.

(Soundbite of Democratic rally in St. Louis)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): All I can say is, wow.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Senator OBAMA: What a magnificent day that the Lord has made, and thank you all for joining me here today.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

GONYEA: The audience stretched from beneath the landmark St. Louis Arch and filled the green space downtown all the way to the historic Old Courthouse, famous as the site of the pro-slavery Dred Scott case in the mid-1800s. Obama devoted most of his speech to the economy, and he defended himself against the attacks from John McCain that he'll raise taxes on the middle class. Obama says only those making more than $250,000 annually will see their taxes go up. And he accused McCain of mimicking President Bush by proposing big tax cuts for the wealthiest.

(Soundbite of Democratic rally in St. Louis)

Senator OBAMA: We need new priorities in Washington. I think it's time to give a tax cut to the teachers and the janitors who work in our schools, to the cops and the firefighters who keep us safe, to the waitresses working double shifts, the nurses in the ER, and, yes, the plumbers fighting for their American dream.

GONYEA: Portions of the Missouri speech also marked a return to some of the loftier rhetoric that was a staple in Obama's early primary speeches. For months now, his speeches have been less poetic, more nuts-and-bolts comparisons to John McCain. But standing under the gleaming silver arch on the Mississippi River, he evoked an image of earlier Americans looking for change.

(Soundbite of Democratic rally in St. Louis)

Senator OBAMA: Somewhere in our past we had a parent or a grandparent who said, you know what? I might not be able to make it, but I'm going to go west because if I take that chance, then maybe my child, maybe my grandchild will make it. I think of all those immigrants who said, yeah, I might not have freedom in my home country, but if I travel across an ocean to America, then maybe I'll have freedom. Maybe my child will have freedom.

GONYEA: It's the kind of rhetoric that has prompted opponents to say Obama is all about delivering great speeches and nothing more. But for Obama, the early speeches helped create the early momentum. And now with 16 days left, the campaign hopes rekindling that excitement will drive a huge turnout on Election Day. Don Gonyea, NPR News, St. Louis.

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