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Obama Makes 'Closing Arguments' in Ohio

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris. With just over a week before the election, the presidential candidates are working hard to close the deal with voters. In parallel moves today, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama are both campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Just ahead, we'll hear from our reporter traveling with the Republican candidate. First to Barack Obama in Ohio.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): We cannot let up for one day or one minute or one second in this last week.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator OBAMA: Not now. Not when there's so much at stake. One week.

NORRIS: NPR's Don Gonyea is traveling with Senator Obama. Hello, Don.

DON GONYEA: Hi there.

NORRIS: Now, we understand that Obama today is delivering what he's calling closing arguments. What's new there?

GONYEA: Well, it's a courtroom term. And in closing arguments of a case, you don't get a lot of new stuff. You get all the key points packaged into a concise coherent narrative for the jury, or in this case, of course, the voters. And it really is kind of a greatest hits speech. Let me just tick off some of the highlights. It'll all sound familiar. That it's time to end the era of George W. Bush, the era of too much deregulation and too much greed that have brought the economy to this crisis that we're seeing now. That it's time to end the Iraq war and just spend the billions a month that are going there on other priorities.

He talked about the respect that he has for John McCain, but that John McCain is wrong on the issues. And there was also, though, a sense - something that we've started to see in recent weeks in the campaign - of preparing Americans for the sacrifices that they are going to have to face once a new president takes over.

NORRIS: So a concise narrative with lots of familiar themes. But did you see or hear a change in tone?

GONYEA: Yes. It's all about the urgency. I mean, the election is upon us. People are already voting all across the country in early voting. And a lot of this speech - I'd actually like to play a pretty lengthy segment of it for you, the closing - what it does is it brings us back in a lot of ways full circle to where he was when he started this campaign in Springfield, Illinois, 21 months ago. And the themes that drove that speech are the themes that drive this speech. Listen to the ending today.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally)

Senator OBAMA: In one week, we can choose hope over fear and unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. In one week, we can come together as one nation and one people and once more choose our better history. That's what's at stake. That's what we're fighting for. And if in this last week you'll knock on some doors for me and make some calls for me and talk to your neighbors and convince your friends, if you'll stand with me and fight with me and give me your vote, then I promise you we will not just win Ohio, we will win this general election. And together we'll change this country, and we will change the world. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. Let's get to work.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

(Soundbite of song "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours")

NORRIS: And there we hear the beginning strains of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," Barack Obama's signature song. The race is not yet delivered for him, so what's the strategy with one week to go?

GONYEA: It'll be battleground states the rest of the way. Ohio and Pennsylvania today, Pennsylvania again tomorrow, Florida on Wednesday. After that we don't know specifically where, but a lot of the states will be places where Republicans have won the past couple of elections and where Senator Obama hopes to win this year.

NORRIS: And before I let you go, what do we know about this half-hour ad buy that the campaign has set for Wednesday night?

GONYEA: What it will consist of is a very closely held secret at this point by the campaign. But it is a half an hour paid time on NBC, CBS, Univision, the BET Network, Fox, and MSNBC. Again, no details yet as to what will be in it.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Don Gonyea speaking to us from Ohio. Don, thanks so much.

GONYEA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.