Obama’s Closing Argument to Indiana Voters

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., made an economic heavy closing argument to the voters of Indianapolis, Ind., summoning up a historical reminder of the last time the state’s primary was so closely watched.

“It was 40 years ago this May that Robert Kennedy took his unlikely campaign to create a new kind of politics to Indiana,” Obama said, just three days before the Indiana primary, where he’s seen his poll numbers slowly dropping.

Obama painted a picture that the American dream is slipping away and it takes more than tinkering around the edges in Washington to bring back prosperity to American working families.  As he has in many campaign events leading up to the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, Obama used his opposition to the gas tax holiday to demonstrate this problem — highlighting his dissention from his two opponents, who support the plan.

“There’s not an expert out there that believes that this is going to work. There’s not an editorial out there that has said this is actually the answer to high gas prices,” Obama said of the gas tax holiday plan. “In fact, my understanding is, today, Sen. Clinton had to send out a surrogate to speak on behalf of this plan, and all she could find was, get this, a lobbyist for Shell Oil to explain how this is going to be good for consumers. It’s a shell game, literally.”

Obama was referencing Steve Elmendorf, a Clinton supporter, who told CNN that Clinton’s gas tax holiday plan was a good proposal. Elmendorf is also a lobbyist from Shell Oil.

“We can’t afford to settle for a Washington where our energy policy, and our health care policy, and our tax policy is sold to the highest-bidding lobbyist,” Obama said, and criticized Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for a plan that he said would do nothing to solve the gas price problem. “This is what passes for leadership in Washington — phony ideas, calculated to win elections instead of actually solving problems.”

Part of Obama’s closing argument to voters is to flesh out his background, one that has been called into question in the wake of the incendiary comments made by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The senator has been retelling the biography of his family, with an emphasis on his and his wife’s humble roots, and asking people to move past controversies that have dominated the news cycle recently.

“The only way a black guy named Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, and started his career on the streets of Chicago, is standing here before you today — and that’s the only way we can win this race — is if you decide that you’ve had enough of the way things are,” Obama said, and brought recent controversies into the fold.

“If you decide that this election is bigger than flag pins or sniper fire and the comments of a former pastor –- bigger than the differences between what we look like or where we come from or what party we belong to.”

Joining Obama on the campaign trail today are his wife Michelle and two daughters, Malia and Sasha, who rarely make an appearance with their father at events. The family have a pot luck dinner tonight in Kempton, Ind., at a home with some of his Kansas family roots: Obama’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th great-grandfathers owned the land, and Obama’s great-uncle built the home.

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