Obama visting several Oregon towns
Sunday morning, Obama spoke in Gresham. The day before, he came to the heart of Republican timber country in Oregon on Saturday, and drew a favorable reception from a large audience with his promises to end the Iraq war and deliver universal health care.
The Illinois senator packed nearly 1,500 people into the Roseburg High School cafeteria for what was his first campaign foray into one of Oregon's conservative rural areas.
After Obama took a shellacking in last Tuesday's West Virginia primary, some analysts suggested the loss showed the Illinois senator was having problems connecting with blue-collar, working-class voters.
None of that was in evidence Saturday in this Douglas County timber town -- the first stop in a weekend of campaigning in Oregon for Obama, who holds a large lead in polls leading up to Tuesday's primary election.
As Obama took the stage Saturday, he was greeted by one man's shout of "Obama rocks!" and he received several standing ovations in a county that has voted for Republicans in every presidential election since 1964, when the county went for Democrat Lyndon Johnson.
Douglas County is among the rural Oregon counties that have suffered economically with the decline in the timber industry -- the main source of jobs in Roseburg and surrounding areas.
Obama drew cheers when he called for more research into converting wood chips into an alternative fuel source -- both to boost supplies of renewable energy and to create new jobs in timber-dependent communities.
Audience members -- including some Republicans -- said afterward Obama had scored points with them in his Saturday address.
Mike Croning, 54, a registered Republican, said he is "strongly leaning" toward backing Obama in November.
"He's a Kennedy-esque type of person. He's a thoughtful person," said Croning, a financial planner. "I don't think he's the old-style partisan politics."
Roseburg dentist Bill Schuyler, 62, said he's been a Republican all his life but now is backing Obama.
"He's the most honest candidate we've had. He speaks what he believes," Schuyler said.
The Illinois senator's response to that and other issues cemented registered nurse Kim Rockingber's support for Obama.The man is a fucking phenomenon.
"He's an inspiring man," Rockingber said.
She also disputed assertions by some that Obama doesn't relate to working-class voters.
"We've heard a lot of stereotypes about who is voting for who. Well, I'm one of those `hardworking white people' that we heard Hillary Clinton's campaign make reference to, and I'm voting for Obama," she said.