(PHILADELPHIA) Barack Obama took the city by storm today, attracting crowds of tens of thousands at four rallies that took place over a span of just five hours.
This marked the campaign's first major push into the Philadelphia area, a region that Obama must win if he intends to capture the state's 23 electoral votes.
Joined by the state's top guns, Gov. Ed Rendell, Sen. Bob Casey, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Obama spoke to diverse, working class crowds through out the city, arguing that John McCain can not relate to their struggles.
"John doesn't really seem to get what's going on," Obama said at a rally outside of the Mayfair Diner, "When this crisis first started, he talked about how the fundamentals of the economy are sound. Now I don't know about you, but where I come from nothings more fundamental than a job."
Hundreds lined the streets and people stood outside of their homes as Obama's motorcade whizzed through neighborhoods. Most rallies drew crowds as large as 15,000, as supporters packed city parks and streets. The rally in West Philadelphia looked more like a street fair than a political event.
Both Rendell and Nutter said that they made the suggestion to the campaign to host the campaign blitz through out the city, stressing the importance of the area.
"Senator Obama being in Philadelphia, the enormity of our media market, generates a tremendous amount of attention and excitement about his campaign," Nutter said. "When we max our vote in the city and in the suburbs, we take the state."
Rendell told supporters that they must generate a high voter turn out in order for Obama to win in Pennsylvania. "I wanna see Philadelphia go over 70%," Rendell said referring to turn out, "There's no excuse."
At all four of the rallies, Obama responded to John McCain's efforts to tone down his rhetoric, saying that he appreciates his opponent's call to "disagree without being disagreeable." In turn, Obama praised McCain's military service, something that he hasn't done in recent weeks, and called on his supporters to do the same.
"I expect all of my supporters to understand this – Senator McCain has served this country with honor," Obama said at the Georgetown rally, "He deserves our thanks for that. Every veteran deserves our thanks."
Despite the call for more respect in the election, Obama said he expects that the McCain campaign will continue to hammer away at him with negative ads and accusations.
"They want to spend the next four weeks talking about me - making up stories. We've seen some rough stuff on TV from them," Obama said, adding, "What I got to explain to them is I can take it for four more weeks what America can't take is four more years of Bush-McCain economics."