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Published: Saturday, 10/11/2008

Barack Obama sets rally for Toledo's SeaGate Convention Centre


Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will hold a campaign rally at the downtown SeaGate Convention Centre Monday afternoon, during the midst of the senator's four-day planned stay in the Toledo area.

The event is set to start at 1:30 p.m., campaign officials said yesterday.

Mr. Obama is expected to arrive in the area tomorrow night. His campaign wouldn't confirm details or locations, but all signs indicate he will be staying at the Maumee Bay Resort and Conference Center in Oregon.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of 14 law enforcement officers, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard, walked the grounds of the picturesque resort center some with folders and papers in hand.

Painting crews touched up the exterior walls of the lodge that's situated in

Maumee Bay State Park along Lake Erie. Maumee Bay is about 30 minutes east of downtown Toledo.

Earlier this week, Mr. Obama said he would spend several nights in the area to prepare for Wednesday night's debate with Republican rival John McCain at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Isaac Baker, a spokesman for the Obama campaign in Ohio, said the candidate and his entourage will arrive in the Toledo area tomorrow night and will leave Wednesday morning.

He said Mr. Obama is expected to hold at least one public event daily Monday and Tuesday.

Monday's event at SeaGate Centre is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. They may be obtained from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Obama Headquarters at 48 South St. Clair St., downtown.

In addition to the law enforcement agencies and paint crews on site at the Maumee Bay resort yesterday, work crews were cleaning windows and prepping the

grounds as if cleaning the house before the arrival of a special guest.

Eric Galinski of Toledo is among the workers sprucing up the Maumee Bay resort for a special guest, who is reported to be Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Eric Galinski of Toledo is among the workers sprucing up the Maumee Bay resort for a special guest, who is reported to be Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Maumee Bay State Park and its expansive lodge opened in 1991. The entire lodge, which has 120 guest rooms, has been booked from Sunday night through Tuesday night, said Barbara Ferman, director of sales at the resort.

As of last night, the resort's public golf course will remain open all next week. And the park office will be closed on Monday to observe Columbus Day, but will function normally the rest of the week.

Pat Slygh, president of the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce, said it would be a boost for the Oregon area if Mr. Obama and his entourage were staying at the resort.

'I like the idea that they think our area is worthy of a stay,' she said. 'It draws attention to the area. It's a positive for the area if either of them came. I would love to see McCain come and be in our area too.'

Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said Toledo is an increasingly Democratic area, but he said there is no obvious political reason for the debate prep to take place in northwest Ohio. He said a location like the state park lodge would be a logical place for the Obama campaign to settle in for the policy reviews and debate rehearsal that are planned for the final debate showdown with Mr. McCain.

'I think he probably wants a quiet place,' Mr. Brown said.

He also said Mr. Obama likely would focus on Toledo's growing alternative-energy sector, largely growing out of innovations at the University of Toledo that have spawned two solar panel manufacturing companies.

Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.

Contact James Joyce III at: jjoyce@theblade.com or 419-724-6076.

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