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Missouri is a battleground for the 2008 election and the Barack Obama campaign sees Missouri as an opportunity.
In Missouri’s past, traditionally the state has gone red in Presidential elections, but some Democrats believe that can change this year. Most polls have the state as a toss up.
Some point to the success of Sen. Claire McCaskill when she defeated popular incumbent Jim Talent in a close race in 2006.
An estimated 100,000 supporters in St. Louis greeted Obama before greeting another 80,000 more in Kansas City on Saturday in an atmosphere that seemed like a rock concert.
Obama gave a speech to his supporters that was meant to bring hope to them. He said this country has faced hard times before and came out of it on top.
“I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried,” Obama told the crowd Saturday. “But I believe that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis because I believe in this country. Because this is the United States of America. This is a nation that has faced down war and depression, great challenges and great threats. The American story has never been about things coming easy. It’s been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard.”
Congressman Ike Skelton was on hand to show his support and took some offense to Republicans aligning themselves with Harry Truman. Skelton told the crowd that Obama has the guts that Truman had.
“These are difficult times for our country. These times need to be addressed by intelligence and good judgment,” Skelton said. “(Truman) understood you and he understood me and he understood the challeng es. He had the guts to do what is right and that is what we need now.”
The Obama campaign, like the McCain campaign, moved across state lines for support at the Kansas City rally. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was on hand to speak to the crowd. She said Obama got his values from his mother who was from Kansas. She said it’s up to the voters to make change happen in Washington.
“We know something about Barack Obama,” she said. “He was raised by Kansas women. Barack has done his part. He has mobilized an army. But, in the next two weeks it’s up to us. We have to do our part. None of this works unless people vote on Election Day.
You wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t believe.”
Obama told the crowd that hurting Americans don’t want to hear politicians make attacks at one another. He said they want to hear about the issues like the economy and healthcare.
“With the economy in turmoil and the American Dream at risk, the American people don’t want to hear politicians attack each other,” Obama said. “You want to hear about how we’re going to attack the challenges facing middle class families each and every day. You want to hear about the issues that matter in your lives. You want to hear about how we’re going to bring about the change that we desperately need for our country.”
Local Democrat Gwen Weate says she sees the hope young people and young parents have about Obama when she is knocking on doors. She said McCain’s post-Cold War ideas don’t resonate with voters.
“They see him [Obama], as tackling the economy with a new way of doing things,” Weate said. “They think he is more balanced in his approach and has researched. They think that he would ask people and he would get people in his cabinet to rely on.
“Even though he tries to distance himself from the Bush Administration, it’s pretty much in line with what Bush has promoted and that is that post cold war stance and tactics,” she added.
Weate said she believes McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin did energize the conservative base of the Republican Party, but not with former Hillary Clinton supporters.
“I thought that was basically an absolute insult,” she said. “She couldn’t be further away from Hillary Clinton and what she stands for than the man in the moon.”
Photo: Former Kansas City Mayor and current Congressman Emanuel Cleaver gave an energizing speech to Barack Obama supporters at a rally on Saturday in Kansas City. Cleaver said, “In front of the whole world I want to declare this Obama country.” (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)