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On Elections Eve, 85,000 In Va. At Obamas Final Campaign Rally

This story was written by Dan Petty, The Collegian

MANASSAS, Va.Once more the droves of supporters came together, chants of Yes, we can pervaded the cool autumn night, and for the last time Barack Obama took center stage on the eve of a much-anticipated presidential election, as 21 months of campaigning ended here in northern Virginia.

Let me start by noting, Virginia, that this is our last rally, Obama said in front of more than 85,000 people at the Prince William Fairgrounds. This is the last rally of a campaign that began nearly two years ago.

After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years of failed policies of George Bush, 21 months of campaigning, we are less than one day away from bringing back faith in America.

It was just five months ago that Obama was in the northern Virginia town of Bristow kicking off his presidential campaign after defeating Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination during the primaries.

Tonight, he returned for one last push in a state Obama said was necessary for the campaign to win the presidency. During his speech, Obama repeatedly stressed the importance of the Commonwealthdeadlocked between the two candidates in the latest statewide pollsand its 13 electoral votes, which havent been awarded to a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.

[Gov. Timothy Kaine] was one of the first to endorse us in this unlikely journey, Obama said of Virginias governor. We stood on the steps of Richmond, at the scene of the old Confederacy. And it signifies so much for us to be together here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Today marked a day of finality for Obama, both with his campaign and his 86-year-old white grandmother, who died early Monday morning from cancer, just one day before seeing whether Obama could win the presidency. Despite her death, Obama continued his campaign stops in Jacksonville, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., and Virginia.

Obama thanked supporters outpouring of condolences and prayers for his grandmother and family, an acknowledgment that the large audience responded to with scattered, but numerous variations of, We love you, Barack.

The 85,000-person crowd represented many: young and old, black and white.

Hes what America is right now, said Stacy Elshami of Alexandria, Va., a middle-aged white woman, whom pundits say Obama has struggled to attract. Its not a single-thought kind of country. Its made up of all kinds of people, from all different places, combining to make this a really strong country.

Obama arrived more than an hour and a half later than his scheduledstart time, and stuck mostly to his talking points, railing againstRepublican nominee John McCains economic policies.

Tomorrow, at this defining moment in history, Virginia, you cangive this country the change that we need, Obama said to the roaringcrowd. It starts here in Virginia. It starts here in Manassas.

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