Obama speaks to 10,000 at Dunedin rally listen09/24/08 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama held a rally today before more than 10,000 fans in a Dunedin baseball stadium. His speech focused on the economy and was strongly critical of his main rival, John McCain.
Hundreds of people were already in line when the doors to Knology Park opened to the public at 10:30 a.m. Some had been waiting for hours. More than three hours later, at about 10 minutes before 2 p.m., Barack Obama took the stage for a 29-minute speech. Obama said the $700 billion proposed bailout of Wall Street canâ€™t be unilaterally imposed by the Bush administration.
â€œThis administration started off by asking for a blank check to solve this problem. To them, I say no. It is unacceptable to expect the American people to hand this administration or any administration a $700 billion check with no conditions and no oversight when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this problem in the first place.â€
Obama criticized McCain for changing his position -- now being in favor of regulation of financial markets when he used to oppose it.
â€œThe John McCain youâ€™ve heard from over the last few days is a lot different than the John McCain whoâ€™s been in Washington for the last 26 years. He talks about getting tough on Wall Street now, but heâ€™s been against the common-sense rules and regulations that couldâ€™ve stopped this mess for decades. He says heâ€™ll take on the corporate lobbyists, but heâ€™s put seven of the biggest lobbyists in Washington in charge of his campaign. If you think those lobbyists are working day and night to elect my opponent just so that they put themselves out of business, well Iâ€™ve got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska.â€
Obama took shots both at McCainâ€™s plans to give tax breaks to the wealthy and at one of McCainâ€™s advisors, Carly Fiorina, who received whatâ€™s being called a â€œgolden parachuteâ€ when she was asked to step down from her position as CEO at Hewlett Packard.
â€œI sure wish he felt the same outrage about CEO pay when his top economic advisor â€“ who he calls a 'role modelâ€™ â€“ walked away with a $42 million package after being fired from Hewlett Packard. I sure wish he would change his current plan to give the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills.â€
The tax plan Obama is proposing, he said, would cut the taxes of 95 percent of working families.
â€œMy opponent doesnâ€™t want you to know this, but under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan. If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increase one single dime. In fact, I offer three times the tax relief for middle-class families as Sen. McCain does â€“ because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.â€
Obama did not address the U.S. militaryâ€™s extraconstitutional incursions into Pakistan or the crackdown on dissent and independent media at the recent political conventions. But he did say that if elected, his administration would improve health care for many Americans.
â€œI will finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you donâ€™t, youâ€™ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.â€
Obama was preceded on stage by Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and by Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth, who is running for Congress against incumbent Bill Young.
Bill McElligott is the fire marshall and division chief with the Dunedin Fire Department. He estimated the size of the crowd to be more than 11,000. At one point the line to get in the stadium was a mile long and stretched almost to Clearwater, McElligott said. After the rally, Cindy Granite told WMNF that she drove from Vero Beach on the east coast to see Obama.
Photo by SeÃ¡n Kinane/WMNF