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In Real America, Shining a Light on Faux Pas

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The Washington Post's Dana Milbank sketches Barack Obama's rally in Richmond, Va. Video by Akira Hakuta/washingtonpost.com

"I'm a terrorist," said Kathleen the Food Vendor.

"We're probably communists," added John the Other Food Vendor, sitting with Kathleen. "I've been hating America ever since I was a young man."

"I was a baby terrorist," offered Terrence the Unemployed Guy.

If anything, it is those who have lobbed the anti-America charge who are in retreat. Palin herself apologized -- sort of -- for "the way it has come across." In Minnesota, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann found her previously safe seat in jeopardy after going on MSNBC's "Hardball" to question Obama's patriotism and to urge media outlets to find other "anti-America" members of Congress. And Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) had to climb down from telling the crowd at a McCain rally that "liberals hate real Americans."

By contrast, the phony American folks at the Obama rally in Richmond -- those who got in before the arena reached capacity -- were in a celebratory mood. They danced, hands overhead, to Kanye West's "Touch the Sky," then to the party favorite "Celebrate," then, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." Tim Kaine, the Democratic governor of Virginia, told the crowd it's "looking good" for the state to "go Democratic for the first time since 1964." Next up was Mark Warner, who is cruising to a victory in his Senate race over Republican Jim Gilmore.

Obama, hoping to sit on his lead in the polls for another two weeks, left nothing to chance: He had both a teleprompter and a paper copy of his speech. "There's just something I like about Virginia," he told the crowd.

Obama wasted little time getting to the "careless, outrageous comments" of McCain. "That's what you do when you are out of ideas, out of touch, and you're running out of time." He then had some fun with McCain's Joe-the-Plumber offensive: "He's not fighting for Joe the Plumber; he's fighting for Joe the Hedge Fund Manager." Eventually, he arrived at Palin's "pro-America" charge.

"There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq; there are patriots who opposed it," he said. "There are patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women from Virginia and all across this country who serve on our battlefields, some are Democrats, some are Republicans, some are independents, but they have fought together and bled together, and some died together under the same proud flag."

In the heart of real America, the crowd gave Obama a cheer that did not seem at all phony.


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