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With one aside, Barack Obama deftly woos a college crowd

April 2, 2008 |  2:48 pm

By its applause, shouts and a show of hands that host Chris Matthews asked for, the crowd at West Chester University near Philadelphia already was overwhelmingly in Barack Obama's corner when the Democratic presidential candidate sat down today for an edition of MSNBC's "Hardball" talk show situated at the college.

But Obama didn't waste any time in sealing the deal.

One of the first questions posed by Matthews focused on Iraq and Obama ticked off what by now are his familiar refrains. He noted that, unlike Hillary Clinton, he opposed President Bush's push to invade Iraq from the start. While acknowledging that both he and Clinton have basically the same plans for extracting U.S. troops, he questioned whether "mission creep" would result from her caveat that some troops may need to stay there to guard against meddling by Iran. And he scorned presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain for talking about the prospect of a "permanent occupation" by America in Iraq.

Then he added a detail perfectly tailored for his listeners. Decrying the war's costs of $10 billion to $12 billion a month, he noted that the money instead could be spent on college scholarships.

Cue another burst of loud cheers.

-- Don Frederick