Obama in Tampa to kick off early voting listen10/20/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:
Barack Obama arrived in Tampa early this afternoon to promote early voting in the Sunshine State. But before Obama reached the stage at Steinbrenner Field, five members of the newly crowned American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays appeared. Rookie sensation David Price, who got the save in last nightâ€™s victory over the Boston Red Sox, introduced the Illinois senator.
The Rays will face the Philadelphia Phillies, who also play in a critical battleground state of Pensylvania.
Always trying to get an advantage, earlier today, a McCain press aide sent Florida reporters a press release in which Obama was quoted last in Philadelphia as saying that heâ€™s a White Sox fan, but since theyâ€™re out of the playoffs, â€œIâ€™ll root for the Phillies now.â€ But Obama began his remarks giving his due to the champs.
Celebrating early voting, Democrats begin the 12 days of such voting with a strong advantage as the process begins. According to the Secretary of Stateâ€™s office, Florida Democrats now have a more than 600,000 person advantage in registered voters over Republicans, nearly double the gap between the two party's registered voters since 2004.
Todayâ€™s appearance in Tampa was just one of several that Obama and strong surrogates, like New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are making on Monday and Tuesday.
Saying that power concedes nothing without a fight, he warned the more than 10,000 in attendance that though the polls look good, the campaign could get rougher in the last two weeks.
In a familiar re-telling of his standard stump speech, Obama took several shots at John McCain as being clueless when it comes to dealing with the financial crises and the economy overall. He invoked a comment by McCain campaign manager Rick Davis last month that the campaign would not be decided by policy issues, but on character issues.
The McCain campaign has been hitting hard at Obama in the past week , virtually calling him a socialist after his comments made in Ohio to the now famous â€œJoe The Plumberâ€, that he wanted to spread the wealth when it comes to his tax policy.
The McCain campaign again held several news conferences throughout the state, with local â€œJoe the Plumberâ€ types speaking about John McCainâ€™s tax policies vs. Obama, but it may not be helping.
A Suffolk University poll released today in Ohio has Obama up by 9 points, and on the question of â€œJoe the Plumberâ€, 68 percent of Ohioans had heard of him, but just 6 percent said that Joe made them more likely to vote for McCain, while 4 percent said they more likely to vote for Obama. However, in Missouri, the same question showed a 5 percent difference for McCain.
Obama also talked up jobs, alternative energy, and health care. Toward the end of his speech, he invoked the themes that some say his candidacy represents, in lines similar to his electrifying national debut at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.
Speaking to members in the audience before Obama spoke, WMNF encountered supporters, some more cautious than others 15 days before Election Day.
Joe Ramoray is a member of the Teamsters. He called himself â€œJoe the Teamster.â€ Heâ€™s a Vietnam vet who says he respects John McCain for his military service, but he says that doesnâ€™t get his vote.
The endorsement Sunday by retired Gen. Colin Powell was warmly received by those WMNF interviewed, including Tampa resident Sinclair Bridgewater.
Obama planned to campaign with Hillary Clinton tonight in Orlando.
Photo by Mitch Perry/WMNF