Barack Obama seemed a frequent visitor to northern Nevada during the runup to the January caucuses and the events back then were large public rallies.
This gathering on a hot August morning outside in the quad at Wooster High was by design a much different gathering. The crowd, small, by invitation only and, as one might expect, friendly. It's the sort of set up we saw John McCain in Sparks 2 weeks ago.
A lot has changed since January. Obama wrapped up the nomination in the following months and the nation's concern political dialog moved from the war to focus increasingly on the economy. That was the subject the candidate and the audience, union members, small business people, government workers and seniors, wanted to talk about.
Obama: "to make sure we are looking out for one another and that we rise and fall together, that's what we're fighting for and that's why I'm running for president of the United States."
Obama took questions on minimum wage (he's in favor of linking them to inflation and thinks the earned income tax credit should be expanded), labor relations (the Bush administration has been the most anti-union in history) and energy independence (more drilling off-shore isn't the answer. alternative sources and more efficient cars are). And he rarely passed up an opportunity to draw differences between himself and his opponent.
"He said awhile back that the reason we have an energy crisis is that we haven't been doing anything in Washington for the last 30 years, the same special intersts have dominated the debate. I say John McCain's right. The only thing he didn't mention is that he was there for 25 of them."
Recent McCain ads have asserted Obama would raise taxes and his tax plan would lead to economic disaster. Obama countered his plan would mean tax cuts for those making less than $150-thousand a year while his opponent would give big tax breaks to the big oil companies and put us deeper in debt.
"I've got news for John McCain. My plan is not going to bring about economic disaster. We've already had economic disaster from John McCain's president George W. Bush."
Leaving Reno the Senator headed for a fund raiser in San Francisco. With Nevada once again a swing state in what could be a close election, it's more than likely he and his opponent will be back.