Obama urges crowd to show him the energy of '08

WASHINGTON - October 10, 2010

Matthew Halley, 28, and Erin DeCou, 27, walked back to their house after the speech in a park in the city's Germantown section feeling the glow of the president's words.

"He fired me up," said DeCou, a community organizer for an environmental advocacy group. In particular, she said, she was pleased to hear him take Republicans to task in stinging terms for a position that she views as simply trying to block his agenda.

DeCou and others at the rally who canvass or volunteer for phone banks say they can't explain why pollsters are projecting a wave of Democratic losses in November. They say people they reach on the phones are engaged and ready to vote on Nov. 2.

"They better," said Audrey Smalls, 61, a special education teacher from Philadelphia. "Because those tea party people, they're nuts."

But some Democrats acknowledge a disconnect between the need to press forward with Obama's agenda and the mood among their fellow party members.

Justin DiPietro, 31, and Marc Alfarano, 30, said there doesn't seem to be as much urgency to vote among Democrats this year and some don't grasp the seriousness of losing the U.S. House and Senate to Republicans.

"I don't think they understand what's at stake," said Alfarano, an elementary school teacher in suburban Philadelphia who is also a party activist.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who also spoke briefly, used the rally to energize Democratic voters for next month's general election. The event was Obama's first public political event in Pennsylvania since he took office in January 2009. The Democratic Party cited a city estimate of 18,500 in attendance at the event, including an overflow crowd who stood and watched from outside the park.

Pennsylvanians will decide on a U.S. senator to replace five-term Arlen Specter, who was defeated in the Democratic primary, and a new governor to replace Democrat Ed Rendell, who is leaving as required by the state constitution after his second term. Republicans also hope to pick up as many as eight congressional seats currently held by Democrats, as well as a majority in the state House of Representatives.

Republicans accuse Democrats in Washington of pushing policies that have stalled an economic recovery and driven up the debt. Democrats say the economy is growing again, and they need more time for their policies to fix the problems they say were wrought by Republicans under former President George W. Bush.

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