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Obama Rallies Charlotte

Democrat Barack Obama was in Charlotte yesterday, capping a week of intense campaign activity for the region, which also included visits from Obama's wife Michelle and running mate Joe Biden. The first few minutes of Obama's Charlotte speech centered on the financial industry, so it was fitting that he stood just blocks from two of the nation's largest banks, Wachovia and Bank of America. "Charlotte, the news of the day isn't good," announced Obama. "The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led us to a perilous moment. They said they wanted to let the market run free, but instead they let it run wild. Obama's visit to Charlotte comes as Congress mulls a 700-billion dollar bailout of the financial industry. He says he supports efforts to reverse the crisis, but insists the financial industry must be held accountable. "There must be no blank check, when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money," says Obama, adding the bailout must also protect homeowners and include sufficient regulation to prevent a similar crisis in the future. His message resonated with supporters. "I'm not the type of person born with a silver spoon in my mouth," said Anita Davis Simmons of Rock Hill, SC. "I rely on my job to put food on my table so that is 90% of the reason I am here and voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden." John Cooper of Fayetteville added, "I think his point that we spent a lot of time looking after Wall Street and now it's time to look after Main Street and particularly your street. It already confirms what I already suspected and it just reaffirms my support to Senator Obama." The rest of Obama's speech was standard fare for his campaign. Here's a sampling: * "We need change that actually makes a difference in people's lives and that's the change I'll bring to Washington when I'm president! * "Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it but the small businesses and workers who create wealth and deserve it." * "I'm gonna also create jobs - jobs of the future - by transforming our energy economy." * "And Charlotte now's the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world class education." Supporters lined up for blocks and waited several hours to get into the rally, held on the grounds of the Government Center uptown. The Charlotte Fire Department estimated the crowd at nearly 20-thousand, with many thousands of those people stuck outside the gates, straining to hear Obama speak. A dozen college Democrats from UNC-Greensboro held an impromptu honk and wave as they waited in line. Young voters and African Americans were a large percentage of the crowd. It's widely accepted that both groups will need to turnout in large numbers in order for Obama to win in North Carolina. His campaign continues to treat North Carolina as a battleground state with millions of dollars in TV ads and more than 200 paid staffers. By contrast, the McCain campaign said over the weekend it will soon increase its own paid staff in North Carolina to about 30. "I do wonder about the strategy for Barack Obama," says North Carolina Republican Party spokesman Brent Woodcos. "He's sent two surrogates and then himself here in the last week." "We welcome him to come to the state as much as he wants," continued Woodcox. "Every day he spends here is a day he's not spending in Pennsylvania, or Ohio or Virginia or Florida. And if you look from an electoral standpoint, this is a state that hasn't gone Democrat for president since 1976. If Barack Obama's putting all of his eggs in North Carolina, I think he's going to be sorely disappointed on Election Day." The latest polls show McCain leading in North Carolina, but the margin varies widely between one point and 20. But McCain hasn't made a public appearance in North Carolina since the primary election and a McCain spokesperson declined to confirm any plans for the presidential candidate or his running mate Sarah Palin to visit the state. For Obama, yesterday's stop in Charlotte is likely not the last North Carolina will see of the Democrat who would be President.