On Wednesday, October 29th, Barack Obama held a rally in downtown Raleigh, just six days before the 2008 election. Approximately 28,000 supporters poured into Halifax Mall, the otherwise vacant green space covering the parking deck for the government complex, to hear the presidential candidate’s message of hope and unity.
After pushing the early vote and the Democratic down ticket, the Illinois Senator launched right into the economic woes facing the country, particularly the struggles faced by the middle class. He spoke of a confidence in the American people, whom he believes are ready for a new leadership that values common sense over ideology. Obama spent much of the speech cracking jokes at the expense of John McCain, calling him a Bush sidekick rather than a maverick and kidding that McCain will call him a secret communist by the end of the week “because I shared my toys in kindergarten…I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
He went on assailing the absence of middle class relief in John McCain’s policies, leading the enthusiastic crowd in a repetitive call and response of “it aint right.” Stressing his value of American self-reliance, Obama emphasized that while government can not and will not solve all Americans’ problems, it should protect, educate, and invest in infrastructure and technology. He hammered home that wall street must play by the rules of the road and taking a populist tone said that ”in America, you should be able to make it if you try.” Refuting the recent criticisms for his statement that wealth needs to be spread, Obama firmly stated that ”John McCain calls it socialism apparently, I call it opportunity, and there’s nothing more American than that.” He described his vision of new politics which ignores the cries for bigger or smaller government in favor of a smarter and more competent government.
Obama reiterated his economic policies, claiming 95% of Americans will see a tax break under his administration. To provide a visual, he asked those in attendance to raise their hands if they make less than a quarter million dollars a year. He touched on tax incentives for small businesses, investing in renewable energy, universal health care, education, and national security, vowing to finish the fight against Osama Bin Laden.
Broadening the definition of national service to include educators, peace corps, and working in veteran care centers, Obama pushed the idea that all Americans have a role to play. He criticized old style politics that divide with fear. In response to recent comments by Sarah Palin that she was happy to be in a pro-American part of the country, he boasted that there are no real or fake parts of America. In a call of unity, Obama stated that there are patriots who support the war and oppose the war, patriots that vote Democratic and that vote Republican.
Defining hope, Barack said the Americans must work together and share fears, must reach deeper and fight harder for liberty and opportunity and freedom, claiming “if I hold on to hope, tomorrow will be brighter.” His final words rallied his base to not be complacent in the final days of the election, encouraging everyone to volunteer and work like our future depends on it.
This Saturday is the kickoff for Obama’s Get Out The Vote, which is the massive ground effort by the campaign to get supporters out to the polls. Anyone that wishes to respond to Obama’s final message can do so at the following locations:
130 E. Morgan St.
Raleigh, NC 37601
600 St. Mary’s Street
Raleigh, NC 27605
215 E. Chatham
Cary, NC 27511
Highlights of the Raleigh speech via the Obama campaign.
All photography by Tim Ayers