Obama holds rally in Sioux Fallsby Cara Hetland, Minnesota Public Radio
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama made his first stop in South Dakota Friday.
He went first to Watertown, S.D., where he criticized President George Bush and Republican candidate John McCain on foreign policy. Later in the evening, he spoke to about 6,500 people at the Sioux Falls arena.
Sioux Falls, S.D. — There was a bit of a rock concert feel to the packed arena, and Barack Obama was the rock star people came to see. It was the first few words out of his mouth that disappointed the crowd when he greeted Sioux Falls as Sioux City.
"Oh Sioux Falls," Obama said as he corrected himself and a few in the crowd booed. "I'd been in Iowa too long. I'm sorry."
For about 40 minutes Obama roamed the stage surrounded by a sea of people. He explained to the crowd why he's running for president.
"Not only did I think we couldn't afford to wait, but I thought the American people were ready for change," Obama told the crowd. "That they wanted something different. I believe the American people were tired of politics that tear each other down; they want a politics that's about lifting each other up."
Obama touched on many of his campaign issues, including ending the war in Iraq, universal health care and education. He drew the largest applause when he said he wanted to make college more affordable. He proposed a $4,000 credit for every student. But there's a catch.
"But young people are going to have to give something back in return," Obama said. "Young people, you're going to have to spend some time in community service, working in a veteran's home, working in a homeless shelter, join the peace corps, work in an under-served school. We'll invest in you, and you invest in America, and together we can move this country forward."
South Dakota and Montana hold the nation's last presidential primaries June 3.
Obama's entourage on Friday included two former South Dakota senators. Tom Daschle is a major adviser in Obama's campaign, and George McGovern recently switched his allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Obama.
Jack Billion is the state Democratic Party Chairman. He said it's rare for South Dakota to get so much attention for a presidential primary, because the race is usually decided well before June. He said the attention by the candidates bring enthusiasm to the voters. He said it's attracting a diverse group of voters.
"I think South Dakota is becoming more diverse. It's becoming a bit more sophisticated at how it looks at issues, how it looks at the economy and how it looks at the agriculture economy and energy and healthcare. South Dakotans are vitally interested in this election," Billion said.
Hillary Clinton campaigned in Sioux Falls last week. The Obama and Clinton campaigns promise both candidates will make more visits to South Dakota before the June 3rd primary.