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Sen. Barack Obama Stumps at NAACP

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

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DON GONYEA: Unidentified Man: From North Carolina, Senator John Edwards.

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GONYEA: Unidentified Man: From Illinois, Senator Barack Obama.

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GONYEA: Senator Clinton spoke first.

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, in the next two hours, I think we will talk about more issues important to the African-American community than the Bush administration has in six and a half years.

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GONYEA: Fifteen minutes later, it was Senator Obama's turn for opening remarks.

BARACK OBAMA: When so many children, when millions of children start off in the race of life so far behind only because of race, only because of class, that's a betrayal of our ideals. That's not just an African-American problem. That is an American problem that we have to solve.

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GONYEA: Out in the hallway, three of the youngest convention delegates - women still in their teens - enjoyed ice cream cones as they gave an impromptu review of the performances.

CARINA THOMPSON BANKS: Well, I personally like Hillary Clinton.

GONYEA: That's 18-year-old, Carina Thompson Banks from the NAACP chapter in Des Moines. Her friend, Kaya Aykarigi(ph), also 18 and also heading off to college in the fall, chimed in.

KAYA AYKARIGI: I like Hillary. I like her ideas. I think - I feel like out of all the candidates, she seems to be more interested in our people and helping our people.

GONYEA: But when I asked about their future votes for Senator Clinton, they each made it clear that as much they like her, they've not yet made up their minds. Aykarigi said she also supports Obama. Though, she says she wishes he'd talk less about Iraq and more about what kind of health care plan he is proposing. Then she raised an issue that's been talked about since Obama announced his candidacy. Is the Illinois senator black enough for black voters to get excited about it?

AYKARIGI: He has more to offer than just being black. He's smart and he knows what's he is doing and he'd be a good president. I feel like we're finally starting to see those changes that we've been working so hard to make, and I'm proud. I'm proud of my people. I'm proud he's representing my people very well.

GONYEA: As for the potential that Obama could become the first black U.S. president, here's Carina Thompson Banks again, a bit indignant this time.

THOMPSON BANKS: The thing is we don't want to be known as, oh, we're the first black person to do this or the first black person to do that. It's just like when we do something amazing, when we go out there and we accomplish something, it's like why can't we just be known as, you know, this amazing person who did this, not this amazing black person who did this.

AYKARIGI: Like they never thought we could do it.

THOMPSON BANKS: Yeah.

GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News, Detroit.

MONTAGNE: And in a NEWS & NOTES interview at npr.org you can hear Senator Obama discuss a range of issues, from Iraq to affirmative action. 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.
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