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Obama Rallies Dallas With Swipe at Clinton

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) walks off his plane upon his arrival in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 20. (AP)

By Jonathan Weisman
DALLAS -- Another day in Texas, another packed arena, another deafening crowd.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) came to Dallas today for a rally at Reunion Arena, an aging coliseum recently abandoned by the Dallas Mavericks for newer digs. Not every seat was filled at mid-day on a work day, but most were -- and the crowd of 17,000 was black, brown, white and boisterous, as Obama added a fresh swipe at Hillary Rodham Clinton to his ever-expanding stump speech.

"Today, Senator Clinton told us there is a choice in this race, and I couldn't agree with her more," Obama said. "But contrary to what she was saying, it's not a choice between speeches and solutions. It's a choice between the politics of divisions and distractions that did not work in South Carolina, that did not work in Wisconsin and that will not work in Texas or a new politics of common sense, of common purpose, shared sacrifices, shared prosperity.

"It's a choice," he continued, "between having a debate between John McCain about who has the most experience in Washington or having a debate about who's going to change Washington. It's about going into the general election campaign with Republicans and independents united against us or going in with a campaign that has already united all Americans around an agenda for change."

Fresh off his victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii Tuesday, his ninth and tenth in a row, Obama had spent the morning fending off a cold, attacks and embarrassment. The cold supplied an unlikely applause line from a crowd that even cheered Obama when he blew his nose. The attacks came from two fronts, his Democratic rival for the nomination, Clinton, and McCain, the likely Republican nominee who has increasingly focused his criticism on Obama. The embarrassment came from Obama surrogate Kirk Watson, a Texas state senator who, on MSNBC, was stumped when asked if he could name any of Obama's legislative accomplishments.

"I'm not going to be able to do it tonight," Watson finally acknowledged.

But Obama's momentum did not appear to be slowing in Dallas, where African Americans sported T-shirts with pictures of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King flanking Obama and proclaiming, "The Dream Comes True." The crowd was warmed up by a surprise guest who won an ear-splitting welcome, Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith.

"Now is the time for you to stand up for what you believe in, and if you stand for change, you stand for Barack Obama," Smith said. "He needs you. He needs me, and he needs the rest of Texas to get behind him."

But it was left to former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk to answer the attacks and tell the crowd Obama could take a punch.

"A little, skinny kid with big ears and a name that rhymes with yo mama, you better believe he knows a thing or two about fighting," Kirk said.

"If we win one more state, Texas, if we win one, we're done," Kirk shouted, "and Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 20, 2008; 3:01 PM ET
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