Local Politics

Obama, Biden keep on campaigning in N.C.

Fresh from the first presidential debate, Democrat Barack Obama made his second visit to North Carolina in six days as he and running mate Joe Biden spoke at a rally in Greensboro.
Posted 2008-09-27T11:40:25+00:00 - Updated 2008-10-05T13:29:42+00:00
Obama, Biden campaign in N.C.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made his first post-debate campaign in North Carolina Saturday, speaking with his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, at a rally in Greensboro.

Obama and Biden walked out to a loud welcome from a large crowd in front of the J. Douglas Galyon Depot on Washington Street. Police estimated 20,000 people attended, and two people apparently fainted in the tight crowds during Obama's speech.

The setting of the train station prompted Biden to quip, "The man beside me is going to put America back on track."

Biden attempted to counter the argument, which Republican presidential nominee John McCain made during Friday's debate, that Obama lacks experience and is too naive to handle military affairs and foreign policy. Obama "owned" those issues, Biden said.

"We need more than a brave soldier; we need a wise leader," Biden said.

The audience booed when Biden linked McCain to what he called President George Bush's "failed economic policies."

Obama spoke about economic issues, including a proposed $700 billion bailout of the U.S. financial industry. He said the plan needs greater protection for taxpayers and urged Congress to "act and act soon" on it.

"George Bush dug us into a deep hole, and John McCain was carrying the shovel," Obama said. "You see, I think Senator McCain just doesn’t get it – he doesn’t get that this crisis on Wall Street hit Main Street a long time ago."

Obama said he has told Congress to incorporate four principles into the bill: establishing a bipartisan board to oversee the distribution of the funds; requiring companies to return funds to the government once the economic crisis is over; provide more help for homeowners with mortgages; and limit the salaries of CEOs for companies that accept bailout money.

Obama said he was "glad that Senator McCain has embraced some of these principles" but faulted McCain for not doing enough during his decades in Congress to prevent the economic crisis.

McCain announced post-debate plans to head to Washington to take part in negotiations over the bailout plan between Congressional leaders, party factions and the Bush administration.

Obama said that he and his running mate best understand the concerns of the middle class, saying that while McCain did not use the phrase during the debate, Biden has never stopped "fighting for people he grew up with."

McCain campaign officials challenged Obama's claims to be more committed to the middle class, accusing Obama of having "a selective memory."

“John McCain repeatedly pointed to Senator Obama’s vote in favor of higher taxes on families making just 42,000 a year, and his proposal for $860 billion in lavish new government spending, which is a crushing burden on middle class families and the Main Street economy," said campaign spokesman Tucker Bonds.

"If he was honest, Barack Obama knows he was unable to debate the merits of supporting higher taxes on the middle class, and bloated government spending during a looming economic crisis – it simply proved indefensible last night," Bonds continued.

This weekend, actresses Ellen Pompeo, of "Grey's Anatomy," and Danielle Panabaker, of "Shark," also campaigned for Obama at colleges across North Carolina. They were to speak at North Carolina State University, Meredeth College, Campbell University and East Carolina University.

Obama and his surrogates have been campaigning heavily in North Carolina. His latest appearance was in Charlotte on Sunday, Sept. 21. Biden and Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife, have both also made appearances in North Carolina over the past few weeks.

Polls show a tight race between Obama and McCain in North Carolina. The state has not backed a Democrat for president in 32 years, but Democratic Party officials said they believe they can win this year.

McCain has not scheduled any appearances in North Carolina, but Republican Party officials said they do not plan to take the state for granted and are confident it will remain in the GOP column in the November election.

“From our standpoint, the grass roots enthusiasm across North Carolina is very high. ... We are pleased with where the state of the race is in North Carolina,” McCain’s regional campaign manager Buzz Jacobs said.