OBAMA: OH. . . IO

Writ Large has gone on the road. For the next week, we’ll be with the Barack Obama campaign as it buses through the battleground states.

DUBLIN, Ohio–Barack Obama and Joe Biden took their message to the nation’s test-market Saturday evening, hosting a boisterous outdoor rally outside Columbus, Ohio.

With the sun sitting over a football field at Dublin-Coffman High School, Obama and his running mate took turns bashing opponent John McCain, largely on pocketbook issues. Obama, particularly, pointed to President George W. Bush’s comments Saturday that the economy was making progress, even as a report said personal income in July saw its largest drop since 2005.

Estimates had the crowd at the sprawling suburban high school as high as 19,000. Local campaign officials said it was larger than expected, especially given that this Saturday was the highest of holy days in Central Ohio: the day of home football game for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Obama referred to as much, leading the crowd in a chant of “OH-IO” — the same one done at football games. (One wag in the press corps said, “I wonder what he’ll do in Michigan?”)

Biden took some fresh foreign policy swipes at McCain, saying that Obama had been proven right in his positions on adding troops in Afghanistan, setting a timetable for the removal of forces in Iraq and opening a diplomatic dialogue with Iran. “Barack Obama was right. John McCain was wrong.”

Biden was cheered loudly when he referred to his native Scranton, Pa., perhaps suggesting that his roots may play well in this state as well. As for the newly announced vice presidential nominee on the Republican side, Sarah Palin was not mentioned by name. Obama joked, however, that in the 19 months of the campaign, he has visited every state in the country “except Alaska.” The crowd hooted. “I might have to get up there,” Obama said.

Obama and Biden were introduced by retired Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), still a legend in his home state. And both politicians in turn praised Glenn, with Biden saying that meeting Glenn for the first time in the Senate was one of his biggest thrills.

Glenn, now 87, for his part, also called McCain a good friend and said he “went through some things I’m not sure I could go through.” This, from a man who orbited the Earth three times in a small capsule.

Glenn referred to Ohio’s long-standing reputation as a consumer test market and suggested that this battleground state could again prove decisive. “If it will sell in Ohio, it will sell in the whole U.S.,” he said.

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