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Obamamania in Corpus Christi

Sen. Barack Obama campaigns at a rally in Corpus Christi, Texas, February 22, 2008. (Reuters).

By Peter Slevin
CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex -- It's the kind of coverage a campaign can't buy.

Readers of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times unfolded their paper this morning to see lots and lots of coverage of Barack Obama, one day after he held a rally in a downtown arena. The entire front page was devoted to Obama, beneath a tall headline that called out, "OBAMA-RAMA."

A photograph of Obama covered most of the top half of the page, with two shots of Obama supporters below. Inside, the paper devoted more than five pages of a 12-page news section to politics, almost all of it connected to the Illinois Democrat's visit.

If anyone wonders why candidates often exhaust themselves and their staffs by scheduling rallies far from the big cities, this sort of local coverage is one good explanation. And it is especially true in this year's hard-fought Democratic primaries, where delegates are awarded not just statewide, by district by district.

Obama, who drew 6,500 people to a Friday afternoon rally, was preceded in the Corpus Christi area by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), and followed Saturday morning by former president Bill Clinton, who held an 8 a.m. rally at Lions Park before jetting to Killeen and El Paso events with Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex.) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.)

Trying his best to puncture Obama's balloon, Bill Clinton told several hundred supporters here this morning that the Obama campaign is little more than a "feeling of change."

But in the Caller-Times, today was Obama's day.

Here are the headlines on the three stories on the front page: "Pledge to end Iraq war draws huge applause"; "Supporters gain hope from presidential hopeful"; and "Excitement from dawn till dusk."

Headlines inside included: "Superdelegates go for Obama"; "Rain goes away, supporters don't"; and "Obama tuition proposal well-received."

One small article on page 9A referred to the recent visit by Sen. Clinton to nearby Robstown. That headline: "Undecided voters go to both candidates' rallies. Some say they'll choose whoever can inspire them."

Hoping to even things out, at least a little, Bill Clinton traveled to a park in a working class neighborhood to speak up for his wife. Contrasting her with Obama, whose bywords in 11 consecutive victories have been hope and change, he said Clinton is "someone who actually made change in someone else's life."

Clinton, speaking to a crowd of several hundred supporters, echoed his wife's contention that Obama is inexperienced and is relying on speeches as a mask for presidential readiness. He said that Obama's campaign is too much about a feeling, and too much about forgetting the 1990s, when the Clintons spent two terms in the White House.

"This is not about feeling, this is about fact," Clinton said at one point, discussing Iraq and military affairs in a state closely tied to the armed services. Later, he asked the crowd to choose between "the finest changemaker I have ever known" and Obama's "feeling of change and starting all over again."

When it comes to a president, Clinton said, he likes a candidate "with a few battle scars."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 23, 2008; 1:22 PM ET
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