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Crowd hears Obama speak in State College

| Sunday, March 30, 2008

STATE COLLEGE -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, embarking on day three of his six-day tour of Pennsylvania, delivered a potent speech this afternoon to thousands of young Americans on a topic dear to his heart: hope.

Saying opponents have criticized him for talking so much about hope for the country's future, Obama said hope was his basis for believing he can reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington, end the war in Iraq and vastly improve the nation's education systems.

Applause and cheers rose from a crowd estimated at 22,000, mostly young people, when Obama pledged to offer college tuition credits of $4,000 a year for students who commit to service to the nation, such as the Peace Corps, as a payback.

"We will invest in you. You will invest in America. Together we will march this country forward," said Obama, standing in front of the Old Main administration building on the campus of Penn State University.

Campaign aides said the size of the rally ranked with major Obama rallies in other states. The largest so far was about 30,000 in Columbia, S.C. This was the Illinois senator's first major rally in Pennsylvania Democrat rival Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is scheduled to begin her second tour of Pennsylvania on Monday.

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