By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff
PROVIDENCE -- Barack Obama found himself today in the same Rhode Island College gymnasium where Clinton spoke last weekend -- and gave her a taste of her own medicine.
Last Sunday, Clinton addressed several thousand people, where she spoke sarcastically about Obama’s themes of hope and bipartisanship, saying she knew better than to think that "The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect."
Today, addressing a crowd of more than 5,000 -- not including about 5,000 more who were turned away for lack of space, Obama referred to those remarks.
"She was here, right? And she was saying, 'Oh, you know, he thinks that the clouds will part, and he's so naïve, and he thinks he can wave a magic wand,' " he said, as the crowd laughed.
He said she had also mocked his supporters.
"They say, 'Oh, they just like him because he talks good, they're just infatuated.' Well, let me tell you something, I bet there are a lot of people here who have been through hard times," he said, as the crowd cheered. "Hope is not wide-eyed optimism…. Hope is believing and then working and fighting for things."
The boisterous crowd cheered after virtually every line Obama uttered. One person fainted -- an occurrence that has become routine for Obama, who told the crowd to drink some juice. "If we can open some of the doors, it might cool things off a little bit," he said calmly.
While Clinton has long been expected to carry Rhode Island in Tuesday's primary, over the last week, the race has grown closer. A recent Brown University poll shows Obama within 8 percentage points of Clinton.