From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
PHILADELPHIA -- Obama gave a closing argument of sorts on Friday
night at a rally on Independence Mall in Philly, where the crowd
stretched across the lawn and spilled onto the neighboring streets.
Delivering prepared remarks for what had initially been just billed as a rally, he sought to fine tune the argument that Clinton
was playing from a Republican playbook and that her attacks of recent
weeks were an embodiment of an old style politics that the country had
"Sen. Clinton is a tenacious opponent and a committed public servant.
But her message comes down to this -- we can't really change the
say-anything, do-anything, special interest-driven game in Washington,
so we might as well choose a candidate who really knows how to play
it," he said.
She's taken more money from Washington lobbyists than any other
candidate in this race -- even John McCain, Obama said, because she
says that lobbyists represent "real Americans." Obama was referencing
Clinton's comments at last summer's YearlyKos forum in Chicago.
He went as far as to appear to question her honesty. "She's taken
different positions at different times on issues as fundamental as
trade and even war to suit the politics of the moment," Obama said.
"And in the last few months, she's launched what her campaign calls a
'kitchen sink' strategy of negative attacks, which she defends by
telling us that this is what the Republicans would do. She says that's
how the game is played."
And in turn, with local anecdotes he's picked up along the way and the poetic promises he's known for, he presented his own candidacy in the following away: "Well, I'm not running for president to play the same old Washington game. I'm running to end the game-playing. I don't believe we can deliver on the change we're promising if we don't declare our independence from the politics that stands in our way."
His argument hearkened back to his closing days in Iowa, where Obama laid out with precision his reasons for being a better Democratic nominee than Clinton and Edwards. Much has changed since that call to arms.
The campaign estimated 35,000 people were at the rally and said that it was Obama's biggest rally to date, larger even than the stadium he half-filled for his appearance with Oprah in South Carolina in December. An estimated 30,000 attended that rally.
The crowd was often unruly, with Obama calling out to them to pay attention. "Listen up guys!" he shouted at one point. And when they booed on hearing Clinton's name, he said that he hoped that there were Clinton supporters in the audience, so they could hear what he had to say.
Obama will continue his five-day "Track for Change" tour tomorrow, literally taking it to the "tracks" of Pennsyvlania, when he will ride from station stop to station stop on a locomotive between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.