Photo: Obama Meets PA Voters
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By Bill Vidonic
Beaver County Times Staff
BEAVER, Sept 2, 2008 – Sen. Barack Obama says the upcoming presidential election isn’t about him, but ‘what’s in your heart and in your minds in terms of where you want to take America.’
But for the estimated 8,000 or so folks crowded in and around Beaver’s Irvine Park Friday night, the focus was squarely on Obama, fresh off Thursday’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for the presidential race.
But unlike the glitz and glitter of Obama’s Thursday speech in Denver’s Invesco Field football stadium, Friday’s appearance took on more of a Norman Rockwell tone, but with a bit of star-struck adoration mixed in.
As Obama spoke inside the flag-draped gazebo, his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, stood nearby and smiled broadly. Their spouses, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, sat on stools just off the gazebo steps, looking up at Barack Obama as he spoke.
Most of Obama’s 30-minute speech traveled familiar ground, picking up on themes he laid out during his Thursday acceptance speech.
Obama reached out with themes that resonate not only in the county seat, but all across the country, including families wondering what the future holds for their children and grandchildren, wondering of the fate of generations to come.
‘Are they going to be able to live out the American dream?’ Obama said people are questioning.
Obama derided the policies of President Bush over the past eight years and said government shouldn’t be fighting for big business, banks and oil companies.
Instead, government should be fighting for the common man, nurses, steelworkers, firefighters, Obama said, the crowd roaring as he said, ‘If we’re fighting for them, there is nothing we can’t do.’
Obama said his Republican opponent, John McCain, who will accept his own nomination next week, should be respected for his service to his country.
But for McCain the presidential candidate and ‘where he wants to take this country,’ Obama said, ‘He does not get what ordinary people in Beaver County are going through.’
Obama also touched on issues including affordable health care and college educations, saving Social Security for future generations, fixing the country’s aging infrastructure and the right of workers to unionize.
He also spoke about ending a dependence on foreign oil, and cheers erupted as he said he wanted to reopen steel mills to manufacture alternate energy sources, including wind turbines and solar panels.
Obama said he wants to end the Iraq war and hunt down Osama bin Laden, and said investment in the war, some $10 billion a month, should be redirected back home so that ‘we could afford to invest right here in Beaver, Pennsylvania.’
Biden said he was honored that Obama picked him as his running mate in ‘this effort to literally, fundamentally change this country,’ at a time when ‘so many people are knocked down.’
Pointing to Obama, Biden said, ‘America’s ready to get back up, and this is the man that’s going to get it back up.’
Before Obama and Biden arrived local leaders including Beaver County commissioners Tony Amadio and Joe Spanik, U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-4, McCandless Township, all urged the crowd to embrace the campaign’s message of change.
Bill Vidonic can be reached online at email@example.com.