Iorio endorses Obama at rally in Tampa
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05/21/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

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Sen. Barack Obama claimed a major milestone with his win Tuesday in Oregon, wrapping up a majority of the Democratic Party’s pledged delegates. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports from a crowded Obama rally at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa that kicks off a three-day Florida tour.

During his first campaign stop since last fall in the country’s largest swing state, Obama all but claimed victory and the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Before he took the stage, Obama was endorsed by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

If Obama does win the Democratic nomination, he will face Republican Sen. John McCain in November. Obama took shots at McCain’s foreign policy. Another distinction between McCain and himself, Obama said, has to do with lobbyists and their influence.

Obama called for a $150-billion investment over 10 years for renewable energies.

Most Democratic candidates signed a pledge to not campaign in Florida or Michigan after those two states broke Democratic National Committee (DNC) rules by moving up the dates of their primaries. The DNC punished the states by declaring their primaries meaningless and taking away their delegates to the Democratic nominating convention in August. Obama did not address the issue in his speech. But Tampa-area member of Congress Kathy Castor, who is the Obama campaign’s Florida co-chair and a superdelegate, said a compromise will be reached to allow Michigan’s and Florida’s delegates a voice at the convention.

About 16,000 people nearly filled the St. Pete Times Forum for the noontime rally. Gail Williams said she waited two to three hours to get in.

A record number of Florida’s Democrats cast their vote in the state’s Jan. 29 presidential primary, despite promises from the DNC that the results would not count. Natalie Hunter, who wore a shirt reading “another mama for Obama” said that like other Obama supporters she didn’t vote in the January primary because it didn’t count. She’s excited to vote for a major party candidate for the first time and people like her could deliver Florida’s electoral votes to Obama.

Obama will continue campaigning in the state through the rest of the week, with stops in Kissimmee Wednesday, and in south Florida on Thursday and Friday.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

Learn more:

Listen to the entire Obama speech, part 1

Listen to the entire Obama speech, part 2

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Senator Obama's Tampa Rally

I watched the rally on TV. Senator Obama presented a great and passionate speech. I hope Florida will see his strength and his sincere desire to unite this country and lead us foward toward new horizons of progress, success, and true unity. He truly believes in "A government for the people, by the people, and of the people"!