Last night, Barack Obama "crashed" a gathering of Democrats at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. And today, he spoke before a rally of thousands at Asheville High!
Obama is serious about trying to make my state give him its electoral votes and I hope he's successful!
Obama speaks to thousands at Asheville High today
ASHEVILLE – Sen. Barack Obama focused on the country's economic woes and the healthcare system while lashing out at rival Sen. John McCain in a speech to an overflow crowd that police estimated at 28,000 at Asheville High's Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
Go to the link and look at the CROWD!
"What a spectacular place to be here in Asheville, N.C.," he said to open his speech just before 2:30 p.m. "I can feel this is God's country. Look at this day that the Lord has made."
He soon turned his attention, though, to the problems facing the country's financial system and its effects on ordinary Americans.
"You know what's at stake, because you're living it," he said. "You've seen your incomes go down as the price of just about everything has gone up. It's harder to save, and it's harder to retire."
"Instead of addressing these crises," he said, McCain has turned to "Swift Boat-style attacks," a reference to negative ads targeting Sen. John Kerry in the last election cycle.
"We don't need another president who doesn't get it," Obama said.
McCain's medical insurance proposals, Obama said, would devastate the healthcare system and ordinary Americans.
His own program, he said, was not "some big socialized medicine government program." Instead, people who are happy with their insurance and their doctors would be able to keep them, he said.
Obama said he would take on drug companies and reduce the price of prescription drugs, forbid discrimination against those with preexisting conditions, place a renewed focus on prevention through weight loss and smoking cessation programs, and reduce waste and inefficiency.
He promised accessible healthcare for all by the end of his first term, and said he would cover the $65 billion per year costs of such a program "by ending George Bush's tax breaks on those making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year."
Those making less than that, he said, would not pay any more, and 95 percent of Americans would see a tax cut.
"It's time to start putting the health of our families above the profits of our insurance companies, and that's what I'm going to do as president," he said.
Obama ended the speech with a rousing call to action: "Asheville, I want to say to you, I will never back down, I will never stop fighting ... We are going to keep fighting until everyone in this country has healthcare."
The McCain campaign has scheduled a 4 p.m. conference call with the press to offer a response to Obama's campaigning in North Carolina.
Waiting on line
Those lucky enough to get inside for the rally arrived early in the morning. In addition to Obama, dignitaries at the stadium included Kay Hagan, who is challenging Sen. Elizabeth Dole for the U.S. Senate, Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan, Democratic candidate for labor commissioner Mary Fant Donnan and Democratic candidate for insurance commissioners Wayne Goodwin.
The first four people in line, in fact, had arrived at 11 p.m. Saturday night after driving in from Murphy.
"It was pretty cold last night," said Heather Hawkins, 20, who headed up the line along with husband Josh, 20, Josh's brother, Jess Hawkins, 19, and friend Amanda Andrejek, 20. Most of those who spent the night came equipped with chairs, sleeping bags and heavy coats.
"This is making history," Josh Hawkins said. "This is something you tell the grandkids about."
A few spots back in line were Devon Dickerson and Natalie Flores, both juniors at Asheville High, who slept overnight in a van in the parking lot with Natalie's mom, Zenaida Flores.
Zenaida Flores said she was anxious for Obama to address the economy and especially the topic of college loans for her daughter and her friends, "because they are the future."
Anthony and Teresa Green, of Asheville, showed up about 7:30 a.m.
"I've been more of an independent so I usually vote for the guy who's affecting my table," Anthony Green said. "I just feel a real difference with him."
Green, who is African-American, believes there will be a number of voters who will not vote for Obama because of his race.
"We've come a long way since the Civil Rights (Movement) of the '60s. Dr. King would be very proud."
"Black, white, Hispanic, we are all really for change," said Rosie Wilkes, 57, of Brevard. "We need to build the country back up and unify everyone."
"And he's cute," added her sister, Robin Vaughan, 37.
On Victoria Road near the rally, a lone protester held a sign reading, "Corrupt Democracks (sic) have ruined our state."
Wayne Paul, 54, drove in from of Yancey County. A disabled Navy Veteran who is missing a leg, he's waiting in line in a wheelchair. "This is a history-making event," he said. "I honest-to-God believe I'll be blessed today to see the next president of the United States."
Allison Bovee and her partner Mary Vogel, both of Bakersville, drove an hour and a half to the rally. "Let me put it this way," Bovee said, "I haven't been this exited by an election since 1972. I don't agree with everything Obama has to say, but I think he's an intelligent person and I think he has principles and he knows how to think."
Chuck Stockton, 71, of Union Mills, attended the rally with his wife Myra Stockton, 70.
"I was in the army in the 1960s and I've never witnessed a worse presidential administration," Chuck Stockton said. "I want to be part of this movement."
"I was a civil rights activist and I feel that this is the most important election of my life," Myra Stockton said.[/b]