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Obama speaks on New Orleans recovery

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
NEW ORLEANS -- With an absence of pomp and circumstance, plus a lack of campaign literature, large HOPE signs, and music that usually swells as if it would introduce a rock star, Obama took the stage at Tulane with a sober introduction and sobering message on the state of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

The policies that Obama introduced were not new; he had introduced a Katrina recovery plan on the second anniversary of the storm earlier this year. But he revisited them and his focus on educational policy just two days before Louisiana will hold a presidential primary.

Certain aspects of Obama's program stood out, designed to curry favor with local residents to help New Orleanians reap economic benefits. For example, jobs and contracts awarded for reconstruction should go to a resident of the city first. 

"The policies of my administration don't end in places like the Ninth Ward. They begin in places like the Ninth Ward," Obama told the crowd, speaking of the devastated area of the city that came to symbolize the depth of poverty not only in New Orleans but in the country.

Calling New Orleans a "tale of two cities," Obama urged the students at Tulane University, where he was speaking, to stay in their community after graduation to rebuild New Orleans. He also emphasized his education policies, positioning them as a necessary fulcrum to help residents here lift themselves out of poverty.

Obama saved most of his criticisms for Bush, but he seemed to have Clinton in his sights when he said, "You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out."

The crowd was rowdy by the time Obama finished, cheering loudly and turning their cheer for The Saints into one for Obama.

"Who'd that? Who'd that? Who'd them say they gonna beat Obama?" the students chanted as the filed out. The campaign estimated that 3,5000 people were present to hear Obama's speech, with an overflow crowd of 1,500 people. After the speech Obama, spoke to the overflow and went to tour a local school where students are still learning in modular trailers. After Louisiana, Obama head to Lincoln, NE.