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Dallas Morning News - Obama Says 'We Can't Wait' in Return to Texas

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Dallas Morning News - Obama Says 'We Can't Wait' in Return to Texas

On a day when Barack Obama appealed to thousands of Texas supporters to add momentum to his surging campaign, the Illinois senator received boosts from two influential superdelegates.

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston defected from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign Wednesday and joined a growing list of superdelegates to endorse Obama for president.

"I'm honored to have earned the support of Representative Thompson and am pleased that she'll play an important role in advancing our grassroots movement for change in Houston and across Texas," Obama said in a statement. "Throughout her three decades in the Legislature, she's been a tireless advocate for working families and when I'm president we'll work together to put the American dream within reach of every child in Texas and across our country."

Thompson, one of the longest serving Democrats in the state House, is one of the party insiders who, as a superdelegate, help choose the Democratic nominee at the national convention this summer in Denver. In recent weeks, more than two dozen superdelegates have climbed aboard Obama's campaign.

Her defection was the second loss of the day for Clinton. Civil rights leader and Atlanta congressman John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Atlanta, is the most prominent black leader to defect from Clinton's campaign in the face of recent near-unanimous black support for Obama.

"Now we have been seeing unbelievable turnout everywhere," Obama told a crowd of about 8,000 cheering supporters at Texas State University. "We have early voting here and I want everybody who is here to vote tomorrow or the next day."

Obama spoke at a park at Texas State University, 30 miles southwest of Austin. The crowd lined the banks of a river running through the college town and waited hours in increasingly chilly temperatures to see the Illinois senator.

Obama is making another multi-day swing through Texas, a state that, along with Ohio, could further vault his surging campaign and perhaps sink that of Clinton. The high-stakes states, along with Vermont and Rhode Island, hold primary contests on Tuesday.

Clinton has lost 11 straight contests to Obama.

"This is our time and if you will stand with me and you will hope for me then we will not just win Texas, we will win the nomination, we will win the general election and you and I together, we will change this country and we will change the world," Obama said.

Obama touched on health care and the cost of education, two topics that got a loud response from the largely college-aged crowd.

Part of Obama's platform would let young people up to age 25 continue coverage through their parents' plans.

"I am confident in my ability to lead this country in a new direction," Obama said. "But I have to tell you, Texas State, I can't do it by myself."

In Texas, interest in the race for the presidential nomination appears at an all-time high.

Before Obama began his town hall-style rally in the Dallas suburb of Duncanville earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State Phil Wilson predicted as many as 3.3 million Texans could vote in the presidential primary, which would eclipse the record 2.7 million set in 1988.

Arriving at Duncanville High School, where he was greeted by about 2,000 supporters, Obama appealed to the Texas audience by outlining plans to further boost the state's wind energy production, already tops in the nation, and discussing immigration policy.

Early arriving supporters waited for hours in a line that eventually snaked around the high school. Obama's pledge to place less emphasis on high-stakes testing drew loud cheers in a state where the exams have been lambasted by parents and educators.

"We look at the child in the barrios in South Texas, we say 'That child, their parents are immigrants, we don't care about that child,'" Obama said. "Or we look at some child in some poor district in East Texas, and we say that's not our problem. Well, let me tell you something, every child is our problem."

Obama arrived in the working-class town of about 36,000 as Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, and former President Bill Clinton campaigned elsewhere in the state.

Obama was to campaign in Austin, Beaumont and Fort Worth on Thursday while Clinton planned to campaign in Ohio before traveling to Houston. Both planned events in San Antonio on Friday.

Obama addressed the largely black crowd hours after getting the endorsement of prominent civil rights leader John Lewis, who had been one of Clinton's most well-known minority supporters.

Early voting runs through Friday and voters can return to their precincts Tuesday to caucus. Texas has a hybrid system — part primary, part caucus — that awards 228 delegates in all.


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