Obama's coming, camp says

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama will appear at a town hall meeting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Kids Unlimited in Medford during a campaign sweep through Oregon.

"It's for sure," said Sen. Alan Bates, who is on the steering committee for the Oregon Obama campaign.

Bates said he's not sure how the Obama campaign plans to deal with the limited parking at Kids Unlimited, 821 N. Riverside Ave.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Secret Service and the Medford police looked over the popular center for local youth while the members of Obama's advance team negotiated a contract for the space.

The Obama campaign hasn't provided any information yet about how people can attend, nor how many will be allowed inside a facility that is used for sports activities.


352;"This is a big deal for Medford," said Bates, who will be an official greeter when Obama comes to town.

Obama has also scheduled two rallies in the state. He will be at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland at 9:30 a.m. Friday and at the University of Oregon in Eugene at 9 p.m. Friday.

Bates said that in the May 20 primary, Obama will need as many Democratic votes as he can to clinch a win in the state. Obama leads his challenger, Sen. Hillary Clinton, in overall delegates so far but the race remains close.

"I think we have enough Democrats down here to make it worthwhile," he said.

Bates said the Obama campaign should hit the three main population centers of the state &

Portland, Eugene and Salem &

as well as Medford-Ashland.

"That's my sense of the thing," said Bates, while acknowledging he isn't privy to all the insider strategy in the Obama camp.

Tom Cole, executive director of Kids Unlimited, said the basketball court, where the town hall will be held, holds about 1,500 and the entire building holds 2,200.

Cole said Kids Unlimited was one of many venues that the Obama campaign looked at in the Medford area.

"We're happy to host it," he said.

Matt Sutton, group administrator for Oregon South for Barack Obama, said he has been contacted by the campaign advance team to coordinate a volunteer effort to help out.

"We got 33 responses in one hour," he said.

Paulie Brading, chairwoman of the Jackson County Democratic Central Committee, said she called in extra people on Wednesday to help out at the office in preparation for the Obama visit.

Ashland resident and environmental activist Andy Kerr, volunteer on the Oregon steering committee for the Hillary Clinton campaign, said his group has encouraged her to come to Southern Oregon.

"I would speculate she will," he said. "Even though Oregon has a late primary, Oregon is in play."

Both candidates are struggling to get enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination, he said.

"She's a little behind in delegates, but not a lot behind," said Kerr.

Kerr, who believes Clinton is stronger on environmental issues than Barack, said he's happy to have the choice between two viable Democratic candidates. He believes Clinton stands a better chance of winning against Sen. John McCain, the apparent Republican presidential nominee.

"If she doesn't win, I'm behind Obama," he said.

Bryan Platt, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said he thinks this is an exciting moment for the Democratic Party.

"I can relate to that," he said, referring to the charge Republicans felt when President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney appeared at the Jackson County Expo during the 2004 campaign. Sen. John Kerry also held a rally at the Expo.

He predicts McCain will make an appearance in the Medford area sometime during the campaign season.

Platt said that it is a wise move for Obama to visit the state during the primary.

"Right now he looks pretty strong in Oregon," he said.

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