Saturday, April 19, 2008

Obama's Whistle-Stop Tour in Pennsylvania

Obama Whistle-Stop

I'm watching CNN's "Ballot Bowl"coverage of the Democratic primary campaign in Pennsylvania.

Suzanne Malveaux's reporting live from a train depot in Paoli, and Barack Obama just rode by on the back of a traincar in a campaign-style reminiscent of Harry Truman's "whistle-stop" tour of 1948.

The Caucus has a report on Obama's train-depot tour, "Obama Takes Campaign to the Rails in Pennsylvania":

With a pull of the train’s whistle, Senator Barack Obama boarded his car today at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and opened a four-city rail tour, arriving at his first stop here to hundreds of cheering supporters.

As he stepped off the back of a blue Georgia 300 Club Car, festooned with red, white and blue bunting, the crowd erupted in applause. Strains of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” filled the air as Mr. Obama made his way to a stage built alongside the tracks.

“Now it is our turn, Pennsylvania,” Mr. Obama said. “This is a defining moment in our history. All of you are here because you can feel it.”

For more than a year, the field of presidential candidates have campaigned across America by plane and by bus. The trip across Southeastern Pennsylvania today was the first run on a train of the 2008 race, with Mr. Obama slowly making his way from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

It is the final weekend push before the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday, where Mr. Obama is locked in a fierce battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. In recent weeks, Mr. Obama has campaigned on two fronts, alternating his focus between Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, and Mrs. Clinton.

Today, as he delivered his closing argument to the voters of this state, Mr. Obama focused on the Democratic side of the contest and drew sharp distinctions with Mrs. Clinton. To a burst of applause, he declared: “You do have a choice in this primary.”

The campaign rally here unfolded on a sun-splashed April afternoon, with hundreds of people of all ages turning out to see Mr. Obama, filling a large expanse alongside the Amtrak line here in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood. Young children, perched on their fathers’ shoulders, waved blue Obama signs in the air. A crowd also gathered across the tracks, their views occasionally interrupted by a passing train.

Mr. Obama seemed amused by his latest mode of transportation. As he descended the escalator at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, he said: “Let’s get on this train. This is what I’m talking about.”

The conductor, waiting to greet Mr. Obama, told him that he could sound the train’s whistle. “Can I do that, right now?” Mr. Obama asked. “Am I allowed.”

With permission granted, he raised his hand and pulled the cable. “Woo, woo!” Next stop: Paoli, Pa.

We're almost to the third week of April and this Democratic campaign's still rolling along.

Hillary Clinton once again has a chance to keep her hopes alive for a breakthrough in the superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Mathematically, a win at the convention is the only way Clinton can concievably win the party's nomination. Commentators have said that she needs to win the Keystone State by "double-digits" in order to sway remaining unpledged superdels to her side.

A double-digit win for Clinton on Tuesday looks extremely unlikely, if the most recent polls turn out to be accurate. Gallup has Clinton-Obama statistically tied at 46% for Clinton and 45% for Obama.

However, Newsweek published poll results yesterday showing Obama pulling away in Pennsylvania with a 19 percent lead, a shift in public opinion toward the Illinois Senator that's probably an extreme outlier in a basket of polls.

Rasmussen's findings yesterday are probabley more accurate, Clinton 47%, Obama 44%.

Photo Credit: New York Times