Obama campaigns in Cincinnati
UPDATED 4 p.m.
Check out the PHOTO GALLERY here
Howard Wilkinson reports:
Cincinnati's only Democratic "super-delegate," Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, ended months of courting by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, by endorsing the Illinois senator just before he came on stage for a rally at the Fifth Third Center.
"I have decided to give my endorsement to Barack Obama,'' Mallory said, calling Obama out on to the stage where nearly 13,000 supporters created a deafening roar.
Mallory and Obama hugged on stage as the crowd stamped, hollered, and cheered, with flashbulbs popping all over. Read Mallory's statement here
Obama, as he began his speech, said he had "some business to take care of."
"Each and every one of you can go down to the Hamilton County Board of Elections - that's 824 Broadway - and vote right now,'' Obama said.
The campaign had buses parked outside Fifth-Third Arena to take people to the board of elections to take advantage of Ohio's early voting system. (The Board is open until 8 p.m. each night this week.)
Obama had a message for Hillary Clinton that he delivered in front of about 13,000 wildly enthusiastic supporters who filled UC's Fifth-Third Arena to the rafters Monday afternoon - don't discount the power of hope.
"Some people think that things can't change; they want you to be cynical," ' the 46-year-old senator said to a crowd that was heavy on college students, but included thousands of Cincinnati supporters of all ages.
"Sen. Clinton and others say, 'that Obama, he's so naive," Obama saidspeaking on a stage on the northeast corner of the basketball arena. "But hope is not blind optimism. Hope is looking at things clear-eyed and saying that, despite the hardship, I am going to try to get things done."
Obama sounded like anything but a candidate who is still trailing in the poll, one week before Ohio's Democratic presidential primary.
He did not light into Clinton or call her out for her campaign criticisms of him, as she did Saturday in Cincinnati, when she angrily denounced Obama mail pieces she said were distorting her positions.
Obama is in the middle of a three-day bus tour of Ohio that will end with Tuesday night's MSNBC debate in Cleveland.
Obama, who leads in the delegate count, sounded at times like a candidate who is close to nailing down the nomination, telling the crowd he plans to run a vigorous campaign against Republican nominee John MCCain.
"Some say the Republicans are going to be tough on Obama,'' the Illinois Democrat said. "Well, I'm going to be just as tough on them."
McCain, Obama said, is somebody "I admire - I revere - for his service to the country," but said he represents "continuing tax cuts for the rich and a war that could last for 100 years."
UPDATED, 1:30 p.m.
Howard Wilkinson reports:
Barack Obama started off his campaign swing through Cincinnati Monday with a roundtable discussion of retirement issues, in which he vowed he would fight to preserve Social Security, protect pensions and give workers more opportunities to save for retirement.
Social Security and private pensions "are a promise that we must keep for American families,'' said Obama, who started the roundtable discussion with five Cincinnati women shortly before 1 p.m. "Washington is not keeping that promise."
In remarks before he began talking to the five women - all of them selected by the Obama campaign for the roundtable discussion - he said he would act to save a Social Security system that is facing strains from aging Baby Boom population.
"We don't need to cut benefits or raise taxes to save Social Security,"' Obama said.
Rather, the Illinois senator said, he would adjust the cap on Social Security "so people like me, who are making more than $97,000 a year, are paying more."
Present rules say that Americans pay Social Security taxes on the first $97,000 they earn each year.
He heard from Lenora Anderson, a Cincinnati woman who said she had to leave her job as a Cincinnti Public School teacher to take care of her aged, ailing mother; and from Martha Tepe, a single mother who has put her children through college, but she is now concerned about whether or not her pension from her employer, Delta Airlines, will still be there when she needs it.
Obama told her that bankruptcy laws must be changed to protect pensions.
"We have to change out bankruptcy laws and make it not so easy for companies to dump their pension plans while corporate executives are getting golden parachutes,'' Obama said.
At noon today, in the private dining room at the Museum Center at Union Terminal, five area women were waiting for the arrival of Barack Obama to talk to him about "retirement security."
The roundtable discussion was a late addition to Obama's three-day tour of Ohio, which will bring him to a rally this afternoon that is expected to fill the Fifth Third Arena on the University of Cincinnati campus. Hundreds of people are already waiting in line there.
The roundtable discussion was slated to begin about 12:30 p.m.
The five women who were invited by the Obama campaign to participate in the roundtable were Eleanor Chesser, Colleen Munninghoff, Karen Roettele, Lenora Anderson, and Martha Tepe.
Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Crowley, an Obama supporter, said two of women - Munninghoff and Roettele - are his nieces.
Munninghoff, who lives in Anderson Township, if the wife of a roofer; she had to quit her job to take care of a disabled child, Crowley said.
Roettele, Crowley said, lives near Loveland and was recently widowed.
While Obama is rallying his supporters at UC's Fifth-Third Center, the Rev. Marcia Dyson - an African-American pastor from Washington, D.C. who has campaigned across the country for HIllary Clinton - will be meeting with students at UC's Tangeman Center.