Obama draws 75,000 in Portland
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., drew one of the largest crowds of his campaign so far Sunday, addressing an estimated 75,000 people who had gathered...
The New York Times
PORTLAND — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., drew one of the largest crowds of his campaign so far Sunday, addressing an estimated 75,000 people who had gathered here on the banks of the Willamette River.
"Wow! Wow! Wow!" were his first words as he surveyed the multitude, which included people in kayaks and small pleasure craft on the river on an unseasonably hot day in Oregon.
It is "fair to say this is the most spectacular setting for the most spectacular crowd" of his campaign, he told the audience. His wife and daughters, who have been with him most of the weekend, joined him on the stage at the beginning of the event but left as he was about to speak.
Obama has been campaigning in Oregon, a state he hopes to win in Tuesday's primary, as the Democratic presidential-nominating race ticks down to its last handful of contests. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has been on a four-day swing through Kentucky, which also conducts its primary Tuesday and where she appears likely to draw the most votes.
Obama stopped first at an ice-cream parlor, Lew's Dari-Freeze and Drive In. There, he edged closer to declaring victory in the Democratic battle than has been his habit. He said he was returning to Iowa to await the results of the primaries on Tuesday night because that would be "a terrific way to bring things full circle."
If things go as well as predicted in those primaries, he said, that "will mean that voters have given us the majority of the pledged delegates."
While "that does not mean we are declaring victory," he added, it puts him close and makes it easier for undecided and undeclared superdelegates to endorse him.
In Kentucky, Clinton's campaign events have had a simple feel, with speeches at street fairs, in parking lots or on the grassy lawns of college campuses.
"She's doing what she needs to do," said Mo Elleithee, a spokesman for Clinton, gesturing at the crowd gathered for a Sunday rally in western Kentucky.
Clinton acknowledged that she was staging a one-sided war for votes in the state.
"My opponent said the other day he wasn't coming back, so I've got the whole state to myself," Clinton said Sunday afternoon at an outdoor rally in Bowling Green. "What a treat!"
Clinton has continued to make the case that she is a better candidate than Obama, delivering a stump speech in Bowling Green that highlighted many familiar points: that she will be ready on Day 1, will be a more capable commander in chief, and is more experienced in foreign-policy matters.
"I'm going to get to work as soon as I'm inaugurated to make sure that we do build a strong and prosperous middle class," she told a crowd Saturday at the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, Ky.
But her planned attack on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican nominee, in a speech Saturday, which criticized his economic policy in unusually strident tones, failed to generate any response from his campaign.
The Obama and McCain campaigns, meanwhile, continued to fire at each other over Social Security and foreign policy Sunday in dueling memorandums to reporters. Talk about Obama and McCain also dominated the morning political shows.
Obama spoke only briefly about Clinton on Sunday, in remarks that were so magnanimous that he almost seemed to speak of her in the past tense.
"She has been a formidable candidate, smart and tough and determined," he said as some in the crowd applauded politely. "She has worked as hard as she can. She has run an extraordinary campaign."
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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