Don't assume race is won, Obama urges faithful

MANASSAS, Va. -- Barack Obama ended his history-making campaign for the presidency at a mammoth rally here late Monday, making an appeal for votes in a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

"Virginia, your voice can change the world tomorrow," the Democratic nominee told a crowd of more than 90,000 at a fairground.

The last rally of Obama's campaign capped a week in which he has barnstormed through Republican states in the hopes of switching enough of them to win the election. "It's going to be very close in Virginia," the state's Democratic governor, Tim Kaine, said. "But we can do it if we work until the polls close."

Most national polls show Obama poised to become the nation's first African-American president, with big leads over Republican rival John McCain. Yet poll numbers mean little in an election that will hinge on capturing electoral votes in a series of battleground states. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House.

That was the subtext of the message Obama delivered in three big rallies, beginning in Jacksonville. A hotly disputed Florida recount in 2000 gave George W. Bush the state's electoral votes and the White House — even though Democrat Al Gore got more popular votes.

"We've got to win Florida and win this election," Obama told a crowd of more than 9,000. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is predicting a 4-point victory for Obama in his state.

At a rally on the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus, the Illinois senator drew 25,000 people. "Don't believe for a second that this election is over," Obama said. "We're going to have to work this next 24 hours like our lives depend on it."

After 21 months on the campaign trail, Obama's road weariness began to show Monday.

"Republicans are spending a lot of money on ads here in Ohio," he told the Jacksonville audience, which quickly shouted a correction.

"Florida," Obama acknowledged. "I've been traveling too much."

Obama, his wife, Michelle, and running mate Joe Biden crisscrossed the battleground states. Michelle Obama visited Nevada and Colorado. Biden, accompanied by his wife, Jill, stumped in Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The candidate was also on Monday Night Football.

Obama will keep looking for votes even as they are being cast today. He plans a visit to Indianapolis, while Biden will stop in Richmond, Va.

Obama, who made his opposition to the Iraq war a hallmark of his campaign, returned to that theme as he wrapped up his campaign. "I will end this war," he said, calling McCain a "cheerleader" for Bush's Iraq policy.

But he focused the bulk of his appeal on the issue most preoccupying voters: the economy. "Both McCain and myself want to give tax cuts," he said. "The difference is, who do we want to give tax cuts to?"

McCain's plan would benefit the wealthy, Obama contends. He said he'll reduce taxes for 95% of earners and pay for them by returning people earning more than $250,000 to the tax bracket they were in during president Bill Clinton's administration.

In the crowd, Judy Brown, a Jacksonville bus driver, listened to Obama with a rapt expression, hands clasped under her chin.

"Martin Luther King said he had a dream, and I feel right now at this time, this is the dream he wanted," said Brown, 56, referring to the late civil rights leader. "It's just so emotional for me — overwhelming."