BOWIE, MD. -- President Obama spent the afternoon at Bowie State University, where he spoke at a rally for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). Campus police estimated the crowd -- mostly young, black voters -- was between 3,000 and 4,500.
Obama's appearance was intended to help boost turnout among the black electorate, which makes up about 64 percent of Prince George's County. Obama received almost 89 percent of the vote there in the 2008 election.
O'Malley is facing former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, whom he defeated in 2006. An Oct. 4 Rasmussen poll showed O'Malley leading Ehrlich, 49 to 41 percent, among likely voters. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up.
Unlike some states where an affiliation with Obama can be troublesome for candidates, the Maryland delegation welcomed the president with open arms. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) said she was proud to stand with Obama. O'Malley credited Obama with saving the country from a second Great Depression, saying, "I'm proud of my president, I'm proud of his decisive leadership."
Obama gave a standard campaign trail speech, including some of the same harsh words he's had for congressional Republicans in recent months. "They knew it would take more than a couple years to climb out of this recession they had created," he said. "They knew by the time the midterm rolled around people would still be out of work, people would still be frustrated, and they thought... that if they spent all their time attacking Democrats instead of attacking problems, they would prosper in the polls."
Of the Republicans' new "Pledge to America," Obama said, "It's the same old snake oil they've been peddling for years."
This evening, the president is headed to Chicago, where he will attend a dinner for Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, who has been struggling in his race to win Obama's old Senate seat against GOP Rep. Mark Kirk. Giannoulias was leading Kirk coming out of the primary, but has faced controversy over a family-owned bank. Most recent polls show him running 3 to 4 points behind Kirk.