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Obama attracts 20,000 in St. Louis

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
St. Louis, MO -- Barack Obama returned to the Show Me State Saturday night, holding a late night rally in St. Louis as part of a west and midwestern barnstorm that lead him from Idaho to Minnesota to Missouri.

Speaking to a crowd estimated at around 20,000 people, Obama went through his stump speech, stressing his opposition to the Iraq War and its affect on families and going through the details of his economic policies. He ran through a series of attacks against him and received cheers for saying he had been "praising Jesus" for twenty years at the same church.

Obama also had a new line on children, telling the crowd that the whether it's rural America or urban America, caring for America's children was a universal responsibility.  It worked well with his campaign themes and helped add a maternal side that could help him with women voters.

Obama was introduced by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) who took an unnamed swipe at the Clinton campaign.   

"This campaign didn't start in a back room," McCaskill said, adding that polls and consultants weren't the generators of Obama's campaign.  She also warned the crowd that Obama may appear tired so the crowd should cheer loud enough to bolster the fatiguing candidate.

Though the number of people who showed up was impressive much of the energy was lost in the cavernous indoor stadium where the St. Louis Rams play.  The extent of the crowd, packed onto a floor that on other occasions serves as a football field, could only be seen from standing in the bleachers. The majority of the space was empty, and the sound of Obama's voice and the cheers of the crowd sounded more like distant echoes than fiery and thunderous call for change just two days before a crucial election.