Obama begins Indiana bus tour in South Bend


Barack Obama can pretty much extinguish Hillary Clinton's fading hopes of winning the Democratic nomination with a victory in Indiana on May 6, and right now, the Hoosier State is considered a toss-up. That's why Obama's concentrating on northwest Indiana, which is close to his hometown of Chicago and has a large African-American population.

Thursday's rally in Gary marks the first time a presidential campaign has visited the old Rust Belt city since the late Robert Kennedy came through in 1968, 40 years ago.

"You know, I heard Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy Speak and Barack Obama is in that vein in my mind," said Karl Dennis, Obama supporter.

One of the high points of Thursday's town hall meeting came courtesy of 8-year-old Victoria Reardon, the daughter of a local Democratic party official.

"What can kids like me do to make the world better?" Victoria said to Obama. Obama told her the most important thing she can do is work hard in school.

"It sounds like something I say every day," said Mara Candelaria Reardon, Victoria's mother.

The voters go to polls in Indiana on May 6 and waited in long lines Thursday to get through security to hear Obama say that he will pump tens of billions of dollars into the US economy to help families in struggling Rust Belt areas like Gary.

"If a bank is in danger of going belly up, they bail them out, but nobody's bailing out the folks here in Gary, Indiana, when they lose their homes, when they lose a job," Obama said Thursday.

"A hopeful candidate, one who inspires people. And we are seeing that," said Curtis Vosti, Hammond resident.

But Hillary Clinton is making the same promises in TV ads featuring her top Indiana supporter, Senator Evan Bayh.

ABC7 asked Obama what he could do for northwest Indiana that Clinton couldn't.

"I wouldn't be running if we couldn't provide the leadership we need, not to just put forward plans but get them passed, and that's changing how Washington works," Obama said.

Obama's tour of Indiana will be taking him to most of the metropolitan centers, with stops in between to meet the working class white voters that he has had the hardest time connecting with.

But the Democratic frontrunner started Thursday's Gary event by saying there's another travel plan that sounds a lot better.

"I was thinking about making a break for it. Get on the skyway, I'm home, and I'm in South Shore in like half an hour. I am tempted. But we've got some work to do right here," Obama said.

Obama may be tempted to stop home, but he is on the verge of making history, and he is not taking any detours. The bus trip through Indiana is a lot like the winding road through Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago, where Obama apparently helped himself enough to move within striking distance of Clinton, even with a couple gutter balls at the bowling alley. But if he stops for fun in the Hoosier State, it's likely to be basketball, and not bowling.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton got some musical and financial support Wednesday night Elton John gave a special benefit concert for Clinton Wednesday night at New York's Radio City Music Hall. It was called "Elton-Hillary... One Night Only." The concert reportedly raised $2.5 million for Clinton's campaign. She will be campaigning in Pennsylvania Thursday.

Republican candidate John McCain took in The View Thursday morning. He was welcomed with warm hugs on the set of The View. The visit got serious with tough questions about the war in Iraq, but McCain remained firm with his position to keep troops in Iraq. McCain said, if he's elected, national security and the economy would be his top priorities. He will campaign Thursday in Brooklyn.

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