John Kerry just wrapped up his last campaign appearance of the day, a rally in Courthouse Square in Warren, Ohio. With movie lights shining across a picture-perfect Midwestern downtown, the whole thing looked more like a stylized Hollywood ideal of a campaign rally than the real thing.
But there's a lot of real here, a point Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan made in his warm-up speech. George W. Bush's inattention to lost jobs "isn't abstract for us -- it's personal," he said.
This part of Ohio went big for Al Gore in 2000, and Kerry needs a big turnout here to overcome Bush's advantage in more conservative areas of the state. To boost his numbers, Kerry is now traveling with a band of brothers to vouch for him, but they're not his old swift boatmates. John Glenn was in Warren tonight, and Jesse Jackson, too.
And in an apparent effort to reassure voters worried about Osama bin Laden, the campaign arranged to have the candidate introduced by retired Adm. William Crowe, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Crowe, who spent 47 years in the military, said that he "watched with alarm" as Bush rushed to war in Iraq based on "false assumptions," and he vouched for Kerry as a "man who will listen" to the advice of military leaders.
The fire department said 30,000 people were crowded into downtown Warren, and the number seemed possible. The crowd -- which included a lot of families with kids and more African-Americans than have attended most of Kerry's events this week -- roared its approval for Kerry's message -- especially when he focused on jobs, education and his opposition to Bush's tax cuts.for the wealthy. After a day in which Kerry drew small crowds in Wisconsin and Iowa, the big Warren rally sent Kerry into the night with something feeling like momentum on his side.