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Singer-songwriter Carole King visits Cape Girardeau to encourage Obama campaign workers
Singer-songwriter Carole King stopped at Barack Obama's Cape Girardeau headquarters Wednesday evening "to give you a little love and a little sugar" to spur the campaign's effort in the final two weeks before Election Day.
Visiting Southeast Missouri as part of a two-day tour of the state, King spoke to about 75 people crammed into the small storefront on Broadway that serves as the campaign's focus in the area. In a short talk, King asked volunteers taking part in phone bank operations to be respectful, even if they are greeted with hostility, and gave her reasons for supporting Obama after being a partisan of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
She praised U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, for his lengthy service to the nation both as a military man and as a lawmaker. But Obama represents the future and innovative solutions that will be needed in tough times ahead, she said.
"We have 21st-century challenges, and we need someone with 21st-century solutions," King said.
In an interview after her talk, King said southern Missouri reminds her of her home area in central Idaho, with beautiful landscapes and a strong Republican tilt. "The people are so good here and salt-of-the-Earth, just like my neighbors," she said.
King campaigned for John Kerry in Missouri in 2004, she said, and put aside her disappointment with Clinton's loss of the nomination to help Obama because of what she sees as the problems created by eight years of Republican administration.
She cited the national debt, misleading information that led the U.S. to enter the war in Iraq and the economic crisis as problems voters should blame on the GOP. "Enough people are aware of the policies of George W. Bush and the Republican leadership that have gotten us to where we are today," King said.
Under Obama, she noted, her taxes will go up, but that most taxpayers will see a tax cut. She said she is a hunter and believes Obama respects the Second Amendment.
The packed headquarters shows Democrats are getting better organized in Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri, said former Missouri secretary of state Bekki Cook. The party has been in disarray for years as more conservative Democrats have moved to the GOP, she said.
"I can't even compare it by a magnitude of 100" to the party's status even four years ago, Cook said. At that time, Cook was a candidate for lieutenant governor. Running against Peter Kinder, also from Cape Girardeau, Cook was the second-highest vote-getter on the statewide Democratic ticket, taking 36.7 percent of the vote. Kerry received just 30.6 percent. She did not predict victory here Nov. 4, but said she expects Democrats will do much better.
"If we get 40 percent in Cape Girardeau County, we believe the state will go for Obama," Cook said.
Cook was unsure whether the enthusiasm on display will mean a stronger party locally. "What has happened is that people had kind of hunkered down and thought they were the only Democrats in town," Cook said.
Among the volunteers on hand, 19-year-old Rachel Hendricks of Cape Girardeau said she has been working for Obama since June. She said she feels "as a young person, a need to be informed and tell people what we need in this country."
During her talk to the volunteers, King said their work will make the nation a better place to live. "Our country is like a sick relative," she said. "Our country needs our kind attention."
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Carole King speaks to Obama supporters