Obama stumps in NE Philadelphia before whistlestop daytrip in Pennsylvania.

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In Philadelphia, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) stumped for blue collar votes on Saturday morning before heading to the 30th Street Station to board an Amtrak special for a whistlestop day trip in northeast Pennsylvania. His first train stop was on the Main Line, a stretch of monied suburbs. Voter registration in these suburban areas–as in all of the state– has skyrocketed in advance of the Tuesday primary.

The pool report….

TIME: 9:30am

EVENT: Barack Obama and Patrick Murphy Canvassing in Northeast Philadelphia

Senator Obama worked both sides of Revere and 28th Street in the Mayfair district of North East Philadelphia. It last about 40 minutes. He also clipped the corner of Knorrs St. Residents described their neighbourhood, which had a close-knit community atmosphere, as working class. A lot of the residents were sitting on their doorsteps or on their lawns enjoying the Saturday morning sunshine.

Adults were outnumbered by kids. But the kids were outnumbered by the media. Senator Obama was accompanied by Congressman Patrick Murphy and Kim Milnarski, a local Obama volunteer. About a third of the doors that they knocked on elicited no answer or else there was no-one home. This reminds me of my days campaigning to be a state Senator, Obama told Rep Murphy. Only there was no media and there were more slammed doors.

Most people greeted Mr Obama warmly, although some remained seated on their doorsteps as he shook their hands. Only a few had questions for Mr Obama. Not really, said one retired 73-year-old, when Senator Obama asked if he wanted to ask anything. Well you take care of yourself, said the Senator and handed him some campaign literature.

The Senator posed for about twenty pictures, many of them with children. Some of the snaps were suggested by Congressman Murphy, who offered to take the pictures himself. Hes not an expert, said Obama of Murphys photographic skills. Now they have to vote for me so they will have a picture with the president, Obama quipped another time.

Senator Obama conducted two extended chats with residents. The first was with Don Robertson, whose family lived at 6756 Knorrs Street. Why are you wearing a Boise State Football shirt? asked the Senator. Mr Robertsons answer was not audible.

I hope you can to something about home foreclosures, said Mr Robertson. He described how his monthly payments had risen by $600 to $700 a month on a property he owned in Florida and that he had recently been laid off and had difficulty keeping up with the payments.

Sen Obama asked him a few questions about his mortgage and then described details of the House bill (presumably Barney Franks) that would assist people like him. We just passed something in the Senate but they started loading it up with tax breaks for property developers, said Sen Obama. This is what were up against.

At the next house on Revere St, Mr Obama described his middle class tax cut proposals to a father with three kids (no time to get their names). Healthcare came up and Obama said to Murphy (aged 34): Weve been talking about this [universal insurance] for 45 years. You werent even born yet.

The next house, 2808 Revere, had some good news for Sen Obama. A middle-aged woman called Teresa, who described herself as a homemaker a domestic goddess said that with the help of Congressman Murphy she had persuaded her father-in-law to switch his support from Sen Clinton to Sen Obama and he had written to a local paper to announce his decision. Is he here? asked Sen Obama. No, she said. He will be so disappointed to hear that hes missed you. Her kids were at baseball practice.

Other encounters included Obama signing a school project montage that was covered with pictures of the Senator and which the kids were holding up on their front lawn. He signed the montage and scrawled his signature on one of the kids shirts. The shirt being white, Obama asked a little nervously if the kids mother was around: Tell your mother if she needs for me to reimburse

At another point, he knocked on the door of a house that had a Hillary supporter sign in its window. The resident, a truck driver, was polite and took a picture of his teenage daughter with her arm around Obama. He didn’t have any questions.

Edward Luce,

Washington Bureau Chief, Financial Times.

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