(DES MOINES, IOWA) - Barack Obama was back in Iowa today – a state that he says was critical to his run for the presidency.
"On the day of the Iowa caucus, my faith in the American people was vindicated," Obama said. "What you started here in Iowa has swept across the nation."
He added, "So the people of Iowa I will always be grateful to all of you!"
Several thousand people flooded Western Gateway Park this afternoon on an unseasonably warm day. Obama had scheduled a rally here last week, but it was canceled due to his trip to Hawaii to see his sick grandmother.
Obama continued to accuse John McCain of running a negative campaign, saying that McCain is now running the type of campaign that he denounced eight years ago.
"I admired him for it – we all did," Obama said at the rally.
Although he admitted to expecting a "tough" campaign, Obama said that McCain is now throwing "everything up against the refrigerator to see if anything sticks." He vowed to respond to attacks "swiftly and forcefully," adding "the stakes are too high to do anything else."
This was Obama's third trip to Iowa since securing the nomination. According to latest NBC/Mason Dixon poll, Obama is leading McCain in Iowa, 51% - 40%.