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The Associated Press - Obama Draws Thousands to NYC Park

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Location: New York, NY

The Associated Press - Obama Draws Thousands to NYC Park

By Marcus Franklin

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told thousands at a rally Thursday that he would bring serious change to Washington if elected.

The Illinois senator, speaking in front of the landmark arch in Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan's Greenwich Village, said that to truly effect change partisan politics must be stopped and the people must have access once again to the federal government.

"We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We want something new. We want some change," he said, quoting the late voting and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The phrase is one he uses often on the campaign trail.

Obama, wearing dark blue slacks and a light-blue dress shirt with an open collar and rolled-up sleeves, came on stage to Kanye West's inspirational song "Touch the Sky," as thousands, including many college students, crammed into the park near New York University.

He discussed the war in Iraq and health care, but avoided direct criticism of any of his opponents in the presidential race.

He also commented on the diversity of the crowd before him.

"You've got young people and old people," he said. "You've got poor folk and not-so-poor folk. You've got blacks, whites, Asians, Native Americans. You've got gay and straight. You've got people with disabilities. You've got Democrats and independents, and, yes, you've even got some Republicans."

He received thunderous applause when he said many came to the nighttime rally because they are fed up with the Constitution being treated as a "nuisance" instead as of the foundation of the country, and with a war "that never should've been authorized and has cost us thousands of lives."

Obama reminded his audience that he was an early opponent of the Iraq war, and that he would step up diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

He also said he would help the millions of people who do not have health insurance, and talked about watching his mother die from cancer at age 53 while worrying about whether the insurance company would pay the bills.

"I know what it's like to watch a loved one suffer not just from illness but from a broken health care system," Obama said.

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