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Tens of thousands jam Denver park for Obama rally

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, addresses supporters at a rally in Denver, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP | AP

DENVER ” Barack Obama brought his campaign back to Colorado on Sunday for another rock-star reception and told a Denver crowd estimated at 100,000 that he needs every vote.

Not since Pope John Paul II filled Denver’s Civic Center Park in 1993 have so many people turned out for an event there. Supporters jammed side streets and sat on the steps of the state Capitol two blocks away, using binoculars to get a glimpse of Obama.

“Goodness gracious,” the Democrat said, squinting to see people standing shoulder to shoulder for blocks. “Go to the polls.” Early voting is under way in Colorado.

Denver police estimated the crowd at 100,000.

Federico Pena, co-chair of Obama’s campaign, urged supporters not to be lulled by polls suggesting Obama leads Republican John McCain in Colorado.

“I know polls show we’re doing fine, but please do not rest,” Pena said.

In recent days, both campaigns targeted Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. President Bush won all three states in 2004, and Democrats view their 19 electoral votes as key to getting the 270 needed to win the White House.

Colorado has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate only three times since 1948, when it went for Harry Truman. Lyndon B. Johnson won here in 1964, and Bill Clinton in 1992.

McCain visited Denver, Colorado Springs and Durango on Friday. Colorado also had visits last week from Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, and GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Sunday’s rally in Denver echoed Obama’s reception in August when he accepted his party’s nomination at Invesco Field at Mile High stadium, inviting Republicans, Democrats and others to kick off the final push of his campaign. More than 80,000 people attended that event.

Obama on Sunday jumped on McCain’s comment, made during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that he and President Bush share a “common philosophy” of the Republican Party. But he didn’t fully quote McCain, who said: “I’ve stood up against my party, not just President Bush, but others; and I’ve got the scars to prove it.”

Nikki Andres, a 28-year-old social worker, could only hear Obama as she sat with her family in a nearby park but said she was impressed with what she heard.

“I don’t like it that people treat him like a rock star. He’s down to earth. People are enthusiastic because he offers something they can believe in,” Andres said.

Julie Nosek, a 72-year-old retired Methodist minister, said she has seen presidents but never a candidate like Obama. She said Obama has the ability to convey his values and leaves many people star-struck. “I think he has deep faith. He a very human person with life experiences that matter,” she said.

Nancy Major, an insurance worker, said she trusts Obama to fix the economy. “Both parties got us into this,” she said. “I think Obama has a better plan.”


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