Read Part 2 of John Dickerson's travels with Sen. Barack Obama over the weekend.
At his first stop in Wynnewood, Obama was still basking in the glow of his event the night before in Philadelphia, where 35,000 people had come to see him. A few thousand stood in the bright sunshine by the train platform in the suburban hamlet as Obama took the stage in shirtsleeves.
The speech was similar to the one he's been giving for the last 15 months. He railed against "tit-for-tat politics" and promised to change it. "You do have a choice in this election," he said, painting Clinton as a typical Washington-style politician willing to say and do anything. She "changes positions to suit the politics of the moment," said Obama. Behind me, a man yelled, "Go ahead, Barack."
He alluded only briefly to the debate Wednesday night. "I'm not interested in having debates about flag pins," he said, referring to a question that had touched on his refusal to wear one. "I'm interested in having debates about how we're going to send our kids to college and get our troops home from Iraq."
Obama talked repeatedly about his penchant for truth-telling as a way to contrast himself with his opponent. He was going to tell people what they needed to hear and not what they wanted to hear. This also has been a standard part of the Obama campaign speech, and it's still true that after so many months of promising hard truths, Obama doesn't really force people to accept any. (With the blistering heat, it would have been a great time, say, to tell the truth about the hard choices we're all going to have to make to combat global warming.)
The crowd didn't mind that Obama wasn't actually telling any hard truths. They roared approvingly throughout his remarks. One 12-year-old girl, Kabira Arnold, ran from the crowd that swarmed around Obama after the speech and screamed, "He hugged me." Her friends collapsed around her as she twirled and danced. After the hug, she told Obama, "You are the best person ever."
Posted Saturday, April 19, at 2:26 p.m.
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