(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Today he was Barack the organizer.
Speaking to 28,000 under bright sunshine in downtown Raleigh, Barack Obama got in his usual digs on John McCain's economic plans, trying hard once again to persuade voters that McCain would merely continue on the course President Bush has charted. But Obama's primary goal today seemed to be organizational: to push supporters to vote early, which they can do up until Saturday; and to make sure they understand North Carolina's unique ballot rules, which require voters to make two separate marks if they want to vote for a Democratic president and for a straight-party ticket in down-ballot races.
Obama took the time to explain the latter in detail, which underscored how important his campaign believes it is. In terms of early voting, Obama asked the crowd who had already done it, and thousands of hands went up. For those that hadn't yet voted, Obama encouraged them to join a campaign-organized march right after the rally to early voting locations.
"It's a beautiful day. Don't wait," he said.
It was another example of how, to Obama's campaign, a crowd is never just a crowd. It is a concrete opportunity.
"Everybody I know has voted early," said Grace Bradley, a 54-year-old government economist from Durham, adding that she firmly believes North Carolina will go blue for the first time in years. "I'm 100 percent confident and have faith that the state is flipped."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.