Hoarse but Confident, Obama Draws a Crowd
By Shailagh Murray
DES MOINES -- His voice is hoarse, but Sen. Barack Obama's confidence is coming through loud and clear.
The Illinois senator is spending caucus day doing interviews with news organizations around the state, including a spot with KCZE morning show host Chad Scott -- who opened the exchange by offering his personal endorsement. Obama thanked him and got right to the point, urging Iowa caucus goers: "Get off your couch and make a difference."
Obama also played basketball this morning with old friends and staffers.
Obama's only public event was a walk-through at a downtown Des Moines food court. Trailing along was pool reporter Abdon M. Pallasch of the Chicago Sun-Times. Fun fact about Abdon: He's known Obama since the candidate's days as a law professor. Pallasch covered legal issues and Obama was a source.
According to the pool report, Obama spent a half hour mingling with diners. People swarmed around him to wish him luck and offer their support.
"You are going to win big tomorrow," one man told him.
"We'd love to have you caucus for us tonight," Obama said in a very hoarse voice.
He asked some Republicans to consider voting for him in the general election. When asked how he expected to do, Obama answered, "I feel good" or "We're doing great." At one point he was asked if he was an atheist. "I'm a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ," Obama replied. "Don't read e-mails." (A reference to bogus Internet claims that Obama is either a Muslim or an atheist.)
Karen Ritchie, 67, told Obama, "I've been to every caucus since 1972 and I'm going for you tonight."
Barbara Adams, math coordinator for Des Moines public schools, shook his hand and advocated more professional development and better pay for teachers, subjects Obama often mentions in his stump speech.
Anastasia Walsh, who owns a Panda Express at the food court, approached Obama twice to complain about rising food prices and about ethanol issues. She asked him to stop by her restaurant. But Obama said he had already eaten and had to go.
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