candid thoughts on the issues of the day.
Just in case you can't wait for my personal account of today's rally, here is the article from our local paper:

Kerry, Edwards greet thousands at rally

Of the Post-Dispatch

Sen. John Kerry (left) and Sen. John Edwards

The Democratic presidential ticket chose the site of Harry Truman's 1948 victory speech to launch its 1,800-mile campaign tour. Campaign workers said one of the cars on the train was used by Harry Truman on his whistle-stop tour.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, spoke to thousands of people at Union Station downtown today.

"I am here today, along with my running mate, to say that this is a definitive moment for America," Kerry said.

Kerry met Edwards in St. Louis after the two had been campaigning separately. From Union Station they boarded a train that will take them as far west as Arizona. They will be stopping this evening in Jefferson City. Other stops are scheduled for Kansas City, Colorado and New Mexico.

Kerry stuck to the themes that have dominated his campaign so far. He promised to make America safer by gaining "respect abroad" and strengthening the military, including the doubling of special forces.

He touted a health-care plan that he says will provide coverage for all children and the same level of health care for adults as members of Congress have. Speaking to a crowd heavily populated with union members, he pledged to keep American jobs from going overseas.

"I am running for president because the middle class needs a champion," Kerry said. Many of Kerry's comments were similar -- if not verbatim -- to his acceptance speech in Boston last month.

"It's time for a new speech," said Mary McCinn of Ballwin, who took a vacation day to attend the rally.

But others in the crowd were thrilled just to see the man who could be the next president.

"It was a really long wait, but it was worth it," said Zak Handler, 17, who will be old enough to vote in his first election in November.

Kerry and Edwards will be joined by their families on the train.

Missouri is expected to be one of the handful of swing states that could be key in deciding the election. This is the first stop in St. Louis for the Democratic ticket, but it won't be the last.

"You are going to be seeing John Kerry and John Edwards a lot in St. Louis," said Mayor Francis Slay, who is leading the local campaign effort.

Hundreds gather to listen to Edwards in Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO. -- Several hundred people gathered on the parking lot behind the Victorian Inn early Thursday to hear Sen. John Edwards appeal for their votes.

Speaking from the back of a flat bed truck, the Democratic vice presidential nominee declared that he and Sen. John Kerry offered, a "positive optimistic vision of what's possible in America." Edwards singled out the rising costs and lower availability of health care. He promised that, if elected, he and Kerry would offer to all Americans the type of generous coverage that members of Congress now receive. "That would be a miracle," shouted a woman in the crowd.

Earlier, in an interview with the Post-Dispatch, Edwards said that as a rural native himself, he understood the economic problems facing rural Missouri and rural America and that he was willing to take on the mantle of promoting the Kerry-Edwards message in rural areas. Among other things, he cited their proposal to offer tax credits to encourage companies to locate in rural communities.

Referring to the loss of good paying jobs resulting from the closing of rural factories, Edwards said that the job of government was two-fold: "You want to stop the bleeding and you want to make things better."

That means he said, eliminating tax breaks for companies that move their rural operations and offering tax breaks for those who create new rural job opportunities. Edwards had spent Wednesday night in Cape Girardeau, which is a strong Republican tuft and the home town of commentator Rush Limbaugh.

His entourage of buses was on its way north to meet up with John Kerry in downtown St. Louis. The duo were then moving west through the state by train.

In Cape Girardeau, the crowd started gathering before 7 a.m. and actually reached its peak about an hour before Edwards came out. By that time a number of people had left. Those remaining said that many people had to leave for work.

Willie Redmond, an economic professor at Southeast Missouri State, was among those who stayed to listen to Edwards and got to shake his hand.

" I don't know how well they will do in this part of the state," Redmond said. But he added that he was confident that the Kerry-Edwards ticket could carry Missouri.

Said Pat McKee, 80, and a retired teacher, "I think that they will do better down here then most people think."

McKee said that he was hearing from many rural friends, regardless of party, that it was time to make a change in Washington.

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