Obama stumps in Greenville
war, going after
bin Laden, al-Qaeda
By DAN PARSONS
GREENVILLE — Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama told an arena full of supporters and others Thursday evening that the “new chapter in American history” he wants to write will “start here in North Carolina.”
Obama began his speech at the campaign rally by making light of the lengthy trail he has followed in his bid for the presidency.
Most of the people who attended the rally on the East Carolina University campus had waited at least two hours to hear Obama. Doors to the event opened at 4 p.m.
The arena at Minges Coliseum has a capacity of 8,000 people, and only that many people were admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. At 4:45 p.m., the stands were nearly full, and lines of people waiting to enter the arena stretched as far away from the coliseum as the eye could see.
ECU students fared better, according to several students who were admitted to an area directly under the stage. A separate line funneled them into the arena. Most waited less than 45 minutes to gain admission.
U.S. Rep. G.K Butterfield, who has formally endorsed Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, praised the candidate and thanked him for bringing his “massage of hope” to eastern North Carolina.
Despite the wait, the crowd was more than welcoming when Obama did appear from doors at one end of the arena floor.
The candidate took no time in reminding the crowd that Thursday was the first day of early voting in North Carolina.
The contents of that page, Obama said, would first include bringing an end to the war in Iraq. He also promised to uphold his duty, if elected, to keep the American people safe from harm.
Referencing the loss of textile jobs across North Carolina, Obama promised to give tax breaks to companies that invest in America and create jobs in places like Greenville. He also promised to have the federal government reward teachers for their work in classrooms.
Obama proposed $4,000 tuition breaks for college-bound students based on merit to make college more affordable.
About comments he made last week about small-town America being “bitter,” Obama said he “misspoke but didn’t lie.”