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The Richmond Times-Dispatch - Obama's Anti-War Beat

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Location: Charlottesville, VA


The Richmond Times-Dispatch - Obama's Anti-War Beat

By Bob Gibson

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama drew more than 4,250 people to an outdoor rally and fundraiser last night at the Charlottesville Pavilion.

The event surpassed a fundraiser that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., staged Sept. 23 several blocks away by more than 3,000 paid attendees.

The Illinois senator sounded his anti-war theme to loud ovations and criticized the policies of President Bush, naming him, and the record of chief rival Clinton without naming her.

Organizer James B. Murray Jr. said the gathering was the largest paid crowd that Obama has drawn anywhere as a presidential candidate. Murray said the event raised more than $300,000, topping Clinton's Charlottesville total of $200,000.

Tickets to the rally were $15 for students and $29 to $100 for other attendees. Major donors paid $2,300 each to attend a reception at a nearby restaurant before the rally.

"Part of the reason people are coming out in record numbers," Obama said, "and part of the reason that you are here tonight is, let's face it, you are sick and tired of George W. Bush." The crowd roared its approval.

"You are tired of an administration that treats our Constitution as a nuisance to be avoided," Obama continued. "You are tired of administration policies that seem to widen the gulf between rich and poor, that seem to always favor the rich and the powerful while ordinary people are struggling. You are tired of lack of progress on critical issues like health care and energy and education."

"But most of all, you are tired of a war that should have never been authorized," Obama said.

He detailed his early opposition to the war before it was launched, in contrast to Clinton's vote to authorize it.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who endorsed Obama in February, introduced him to the crowd as "someone who will truly bring this nation together. Barack has a unique ability to do that and that's why he's going to be such a great president."

The crowd waited patiently outdoors on the chilly evening in the outdoor amphitheater as composer and trumpeter John D'earth and five fellow jazz musicians played as lines of people waiting to get in stretched halfway down the Downtown Mall.

Kaine said he plans to campaign for Obama in Iowa in mid-November and the weekend before Christmas before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. Recent polls in Iowa have Obama trailing Clinton by a small margin with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards trailing both Democrats in third place.

Virginia's Democratic and Republican presidential primaries are set for Feb. 12, one week after a number of major states hold primaries.


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