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Columbia Missourian

Mo. Democrats rally for Obama

By KATHRYN DARNELL
February 2, 2008 | 3:49 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Several top Missouri Democrats, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, brought Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign to Columbia on Saturday in an effort to rally voters to the polls for Super Tuesday.

“All eyes are on Missouri,” McCaskill said.

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Former Sen. Jean Carnahan, Rep. Lacy Clay, Rep. Russ Carnahan and State Auditor Susan Montee joined McCaskill in stumping for Obama at MU’s Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center. The speakers said Obama, a relatively young 46-year-old senator, could offer something new to voters.

“(The Republicans) had to reach back into the past,” Jean Carnahan said. “We have something fresh.”

The rally in Columbia began with speeches from each of the officials, followed by open questions. Campaign volunteers then began calling residents to remind them to vote in the primary on Tuesday.

The event in Columbia was part of a state-wide campaign, making stops in Kansas City, Springfield and finally St. Louis, where Obama was scheduled to speak at 8:30 p.m.

McCaskill urged college voters to attend Obama’s speech in St. Louis.

“Mardi Gras is tonight. You can go party after you see Barack!” she said.

Most of the officials stressed Obama’s commitment to end the war in Iraq.

“He has been the strongest voice against the wrong direction in Iraq,” Russ Carnahan said.

Obama supporter Tom Devlin has been a fan since Obama ran for a seat in the Senate.

“He’s the sharpest pencil in the box,” Devlin said. “His judgment from the beginning, especially in the war, was correct.”

In interviews after their speeches, Clay and Russ Carnahan both agreed Obama’s desire for universal health care in America was one of the most important reasons that they endorsed the Illinois senator. McCaskill also mentioned Obama’s daring plans for Social Security had gotten her excited.

“No one else is willing to say that unless the wealthy pay more, there will be no Social Security for the college students of today,” she said.

Nearly all of the speakers said they believed Obama could appeal to voters across the political spectrum.

“He’s willing to work with Republicans instead of demonizing them,” McCaskill said.