While Republican Alan Keyes waged his first full day of campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois, Democratic front-runner Barack Obama surprised customers at Manny's Coffee Shop and Deli here Monday by campaigning with Sen. John Edwards (N.C.).
Obama and the Democratic vice presidential nominee spent 30 minutes in the South Loop eatery chatting with customers, signing autographs and posing for photographs. After listening to several people complain about the economy and job losses, Edwards declared: "We're going to win, we're going to win."
"It's a big thrill for us to see him here," Lou Conlon said while munching on a corned beef sandwich on rye.
Ken Raskin, whose family has owned Manny's for three generations, said he was impressed with Edwards. "He has a lot of energy and a lot of exuberance," he said. "He looks like he gets things done."
Obama, a state senator, delivered the widely acclaimed keynote address at last month's Democratic National Convention. He is viewed by political experts as almost certain to win the November election. Obama and Keyes, a Maryland resident and former presidential and Senate candidate, are African Americans, which means that Illinois will elect the fifth black to serve in the Senate.
Keyes, a conservative commentator, wasted little time Monday in attacking Obama, charging that his views on abortion are "the slaveholder's position."
Keyes said Obama's vote against a bill that would have outlawed a form of late-term abortion denied unborn children their equal rights. "I would still be picking cotton if the country's moral principles had not been shaped by the Declaration of Independence," Keyes said, according to the Associated Press. He said Obama "has broken and rejected those principles -- he has taken the slaveholder's position."
Obama suggested Keyes is outside the moderate mainstream of state Republicans.
Asked about the phrase "slaveholder's position," Obama said Keyes "should look to members of his own party to see if that's appropriate if he's going to use that kind of language," the AP reported.
Obama said he voted against the late-term abortion ban as a state senator because it contained no exception to protect the life of the mother. He noted that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard A. Posner, both appointed by President Ronald Reagan, had voted to strike down laws banning late-term abortions.
"As I travel around this state, I don't get asked about gay marriage, I don't get asked about abortion," Obama said. "I get asked, 'How can I find a job that allows me to support my family?' I get asked, 'How can I pay those medical bills without going into bankruptcy?' "
Keyes announced over the weekend that he would accept the Illinois GOP nomination to replace primary winner Jack Ryan, who left the race in June amid controversy over sexually embarrassing allegations made by his ex-wife in divorce papers.