Obama’s long and winding road to end tomorrow

John Hitch

Democratic candidate Barack Obama, with wife Michelle and daughters Malia Ann and Natasha by his side, made his last campaign stop in Ohio yesterday, trying to secure the state’s 20 electoral votes. A total of 270 are needed to secure the presidency.

“We are two days away from bringing change to America,” Obama said before a mesmerized crowd that filled Malls A, B and C in front of the Cleveland Convention Center, spilling over in every direction.

Police Chief Michael McGrath estimated a crowd of 80,000 attended the rally. The Browns, playing a few football field-lengths north of the site, had an official attendance of 73,078.

After Bruce Springsteen performed an acoustic rendition of “Thunder Road,” Sen. Barack Obama delivered his own thunder, laying out his plans for office if elected president, while managing to get in some last jabs at opponent John McCain.

“He hasn’t been a maverick,” Obama said. “He’s been a sidekick.

“We’re in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” he said.

His remedy is “to grow the economy from the bottom up.”

Obama told the crowd his “share the wealth” plan will be far more effective than giving “money to millionaires and billionaires and hope it trickles down,” while not raising taxes for anyone making under $250,000.

Obama warned the audience McCain would spend the hours leading up to the election on the attack, using “slash and burn” politics. Obama, however, said he would talk about the issues.

Halfway through his speech, a steady rain began to fall, but Obama continued undaunted. He reiterated his main talking points in a final plea to prospective voters, along with a large number of early voters who Obama identified by a show of hands.

“I will end this war,” he promised, referring to Iraq. He also pledged to provide the highest level of training and equipment to the armed forces in Afghanistan and any future conflicts.

Obama plans to create five million new jobs in the energy industry, which would work to increase alternative energy sources, including clean coal and wind. He wants to revitalize the crippled American auto manufacturers by spurring them to produce the next generation of fuel-efficient cars.

He also sees a need to reform the health care system. He vowed nobody’s existing coverage would be negatively affected, and that premiums would drop. As for the 45 million uninsured he said are out there, he expects to give them the same quality of insurance afforded to Congress.

Obama said the event reminded him of the rally in Springfield, Ill., where he announced his candidacy two years ago. Tomorrow, the world will find out the conclusion to that long and historic journey.

Contact public affairs reporter John Hitch at [email protected].