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Public Statements - Obama Holds Town Hall Meeting in Powder Springs

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Location: Powder Springs, GA - Obama Holds Town Hall Meeting in Powder Springs

Barack Obama made his first public appearance in Georgia in a very Republican part of the state since clinching the Democratic nomination for president.

"It's good to be in Georgia," Obama said as he launched into a town hall meeting at McEachern High School in Powder Springs Tuesday morning.

Obama focused on the economy, discussing how many Americans are facing the middle class squeeze that is pushing many families deeper into debt. Obama told about 2,700 people that military families have been hit especially hard by constant home relocations and repeated overseas deployments. He said he would speed up the process for service people who need to file for bankruptcy.

The senator also defended himself against GOP charges that he has flip-flopped on calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Obama said he has always called for a careful withdrawal, starting about 16 months after he takes office. He said his rival, GOP Senator John McCain, has no new initiatives for anything from alternative energy to tax reform.

"A McCain administration would mean a fiscal Ground Hog Day in Washington. Do you remember that movie Ground Hog Day? He kept on waking up and the same thing happened over and over and over again. We don't want the same old thing. We want something new. That's why I'm running for President of the United States of America," he told the cheering crowd.

Monday evening, traffic slowed as the road to the White House passed through Buckhead. A line of heavyweight Georgia Democrats pulled into 103 West and pulled out their wallets.

Tickets for the Barack Obama fundraiser started at $2,300. VIP tickets that included breaking bread with the presidential hopeful cost around $32,000. The Buckhead restaurant was swamped with supporters.

"I think this is one of the largest events that has happened in a long time," Mable Thomas, a democratic candidate for Congress said. "It's a clear indication he's going for Georgia. And if he's going for Georgia, I want to make sure he knows me and that we're part of a victory team."

Obama's appearance in Atlanta Monday night re-ignited the fireworks in another campaign: the race for Georgia's U.S. Senate seat. Just hours before the fundraiser, Democrat Vernon Jones held a press conference. He's the current CEO of Deklab County and is running for the U.S. Senate. The press conference centered on a mailer sent to potential voters. It shows Obama and Jones side by side under the slogan: "Yes We Can".

In a statement, the Obama campaign said it had nothing to do with producing the flier and would not be endorsing any candidate for the July 15th Senate primary. Jones said, "My liberal opponents, backed by the liberal Atlanta media are attacking me because I am a conservative Democrat."

We said the mailer just points out the similarities between himself and Obama and does not imply an endorsement. "I share those views with Senator Obama and that's what we sent to Georgians and that's what they want to hear. Thy want to hear someone that's in touch with the issues."

Dale Cardwell is running against Jones in the July 15th Democratic primary. "Vernon is desperately trying to hide the fact that he voted for George Bush twice. How does a man who voted for George Bush twice now support Barack Obama? It doesn't add up and he's figured out this is the best way to bury the reality of what he's done in the past by trying to attach himself to Barack Obama."

While that political battle still simmers, the spotlight focused on presidential hopeful Barack Obama. His supporters say Georgia is still up for grabs. Martin Luther King, III was among the supporters attending Monday night's event. "I think we're going to see more people than have come out before who are excited about this candidacy," he said.

Monday night's fundraiser was a private event.

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