McCain/Palin drew 4,000 more supporters at same venue a week ago
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Hoping to shore up support in his suddenly undependable backyard, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama flew here Monday to talk about how he’d handle economic crises as president.
Recent polls have shown that Wisconsin — once pretty solidly in Obama’s column — is now a statistical dead heat between Obama and Republican John McCain.
“You all know that you hold this election in your hands,” Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat who said he worked on ethics legislation with Obama, told a crowd of about 6,000 cheering Obama fans in the arena next to Lambeau Field. “We just barely won this state for Al Gore in 2000 and we just barely won this state for John Kerry in 2004.”
The numbers in Wisconsin and Minnesota are getting close enough that the Obama campaign closed its 11 campaign offices in North Dakota and moved the 50 staffers there to these two states.
Just a week ago, John McCain and his vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin — who can bring out crowds the way Obama can — appeared in this same stadium, Resch Center, to a crowd of 10,000 fans. There were an uncharacteristic amount of empty orange seats for Obama’s rally.
In their defense, Obama's backers note their rally was held on Monday at noon, compared to a Thursday night rally for McCain and Palin.
After a watershed week of collapse on Wall Street, Obama focused his speech here on the excesses of Wall Street CEOs and the failure of Washington politicians — especially McCain — to rein them in.
“When it comes to regulatory reform, Sen. McCain has fought time and time again against the common-sense rules of the road that could’ve prevented this crisis,” Obama said. “His economic plan was written by Phil Gramm, the architect in the U.S. Senate of the deregulatory steps that helped cause this mess.”
The audience booed Gramm’s name, as they did McCain’s and Palin’s.
Obama laid out what he called a series of reforms that the McCain campaign later complained were still short on specifics.
“When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it,” Obama said. “When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency, we will put as many as possible online for every American to watch. When there is a tax bill being debated in Congress, you will know the names of the corporations that would benefit and how much money they would get. And we will put every corporate tax break and every pork-barrel project online for every American to see. You will know who asked for them and you can cast your vote accordingly.”
Obama offered broader guidelines on the Wall Street reforms, saying that if companies were in a position to borrow money from the government, they needed to open their books to the government.
But the McCain campaign said in an e-mail to reporters, “Three days after John McCain laid out a specific plan to address the crisis on Wall Street, Barack Obama provided no discernable plan for the banking crisis.”
Obama played to the Green Bay crowd by commiserating with them about Sunday’s losses for the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.
“Let’s get this out of the way: I’m sorry about last night but I’ll tell you what, the Bears are 1-2, so I’ll tell you what, we’re having a tougher time.” As the crowd cheered, Obama said, “This is probably the biggest cheer that a Bears fan has ever gotten from cheeseheads.”
Obama told the crowd he needed them to win.
“Change has always come from places like Wisconsin,” Obama said to more cheers. “The state where the progressive movement was born; where laws were passed to regulate the railroads and insurance companies, laws that protected consumers and the safety of factory workers. It was a movement rooted in a principle that was known as the Wisconsin Idea — the idea that government works best in the hands of the people, not the special interests, that your voices should speak louder than the whispers of lobbyists.”
Obama volunteers implored the audience to text in their cell phone numbers and be prepared to work.
“We need all of you to take off election day to volunteer to get out the vote,” organizer Dan Phillips said. “Volunteer for at least one hour or spend four years regretting that you did not.”
Plenty of residents of Illinois —- where polls show Obama comfortably ahead — are being encouraged to cross the border and join get-out-the-vote efforts in Wisconsin.
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