PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Barack Obama and his band of Pennsylvania pols criss-crossed Philadelphia Saturday in an effort to drive up turnout in a city where Obama needs big margins to win the state next month.
“Senator Obama has done everything he could to bring us to this point. For two years he’s campaigned across the length and breadth of this country and he’s done a great job,” Governor Ed Rendell told a mostly African-American crowd in north Philadelphia. “In the primary, only 53 percent of the registered voters in Philadelphia turned out. Twenty-four days from today, 53 percent will not cut it. It will not cut it if we want to make sure that Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. We need to turn out at least 75 percent.”
The homage to the Philadelphia Phillies and requisite cheese steak references aside, Obama stuck to the economic populist stump speech he’s delivered in various battleground states since the financial crisis began.
“We need policies that grow our economy from the bottom-up, so that every American, everywhere has the chance to get ahead,” Obama told residents in Germantown, a Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood. “These are the Americans I’m standing for. These are the folks I’m fighting for. The cops, the teachers, the guys who pick up the garbage, the folks who are mopping the floors at night, the people who are starting a small business the barber shop owner, the hardware store owner, that’s the kind of leadership I’m offering. That’s what I mean when I’m talking about change.
Obama drew thousands at four stops in distinct sections of the city. Crowds jammed his motorcade route screaming, waving and occasionally running in between the cars, creating havoc.
Rendell and Michael Nutter, the city’s mayor, had long advocated for a full day of fast-paced, grassroots campaigning.
“No question the mayor and I were clamoring to get into Philadelphia and we were clamoring to do this type of day. We had a little bit of a tug with Chicago,” Rendell told reporters, referencing Obama headquarters and citing Secret Service concerns and demands on the candidate’s time. “It’s challenging. But we thought it was worth it, the buzz it will create. Everyone in Germantown will know before they go to sleep tonight that Barack Obama was in Vernon Park … that’s very meaningful, Barack where we live.”
“I think Chicago is pretty happy,” Nutter added. Obama campaign aides said they had always planned a day of Philadelphia centered events.
Both Nutter and Rendell were avid supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary race, and skeptical of Obama’s chances statewide should he be the nominee. While Rendell said he is now confident Obama will take Pennsylvania next month he offered a word of caution.
“I think it’s a very very fluid election. I think this changes from literally day to day,” he said. “With 24 days to go and a lot of stuff supposedly left to come out, the Republicans, as Senator Obama said, it’s like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks who knows what’s out there. My message to all of us … we can’t be over confident for one second. When that 15 point poll came out I shuddered because I don’t believe for a minute we’re 15 points up and we’ve just got to be ready to do everything we can. It’s too important for us to take this for granted.”