U.S. Sen. Barack Obama appeared before 10,000 people at the University of Toledo s Savage Hall this afternoon, bringing his message of change and hope, as well as a few jabs at the other two presidential candidates who visited northwest Ohio last week.
Taking the stage at about 4:45 p.m. and speaking for 51 minutes, Mr. Obama began his speech with his familiar message of change where he cast himself as the candidate best suited to alter Washington s ways.
Perhaps poking at Republican presidential frontrunner John McCain, who Thursday defended himself in Toledo against charges his relationships with lobbyists are too close, Mr. Obama said special interest groups would not affect how he governs.
If you are ready for change, then we can go ahead and tell the lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over, Mr. Obama said. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voice of the American people if I am president of the United States of America.
The Illinois senator also took on Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton, who held a rally in Toledo on Friday night and spent yesterday accusing Mr. Obama s campaign of spreading false information about her support for NAFTA.
Her husband s administration championed NAFTA, passed NAFTA, signed NAFTA, Mr. Obama said. He said Mrs. Clinton shouldn t be allowed to take credit for everything positive in President Bill Clinton s administration, yet distance herself from unpopular trade agreements like NAFTA.
UT officials and Obama staffers said Savage Hall was filled over capacity, and about 5,000 people were turned away from the event. But Mr. Obama, keeping with his own tradition, went outside Savage Hall to speak briefly with those who couldn t get inside.
Prior to his rally at UT, Mr. Obama spoke with The Blade s editorial board and John Robinson Block, co-publisher and editor-in-chief of the newspaper, for about an hour at The Blade building on Superior Street downtown.