Obama supporters speak out in CoatesvilleIn this downtrodden city, the change that Obama supporters hope to see is economic.

The roughly 50 people who showed up to an Obama speech-watching party at the Masonic Hall here Thursday night told stories about how, in the last few years, they've felt the pinch of rising fuel prices and disappearing jobs.

The Democratic nominee for president, they said, would level the field between the corporations they feel looming down on them and the "little man."

"I work for Mittal Steel, and you know what? They're taking all the money they make in Coatesville and using it to build steel plants in Mexico," said Dave McLimans, a Coatesville resident who is president of the Chester County AFL-CIO. "What's wrong with a president saying, 'Keep the jobs here.'"

Pam Depte, a Coatesville woman who used to work for the Chester County district courts, said that although she's retired, she took a part-time secretarial job for fear that her county pension wouldn't be enough.

"I own my home and I want to leave a legacy behind for my kids," she said. "But I'm struggling. We have to get a president who wants financial gain for the little man."

Carmella Young, a Coatesville resident, who runs a children's day-care service out of her house, said the price of gas and heating oil has made it hard for her to pay her bills.

"We really need help in this area, and I think Obama will help us," she said. "McCain seems like another Bush."

As the guests waited for Obama to take the podium at Mile High Stadium, field organizers for his campaign tried to enlist their help in going door to door and registering voters.

This is typical of the campaign, which has taken a grassroots approach, allowing Obama enthusiasts to work outside the pre-existing Democratic Party Framework.

According to Sue Gregson, an Obama delegate from West Bradford, who is at the convention this week, the Democratic Party of Chester County, which had initially supported Hillary, found itself confronted earlier this year with an Obama grassroots movement that had sprouted up unexpectedly in its own backyard.

The field organizers at Thursday night's event said there is now a Coatesville-area branch of the campaign and that several local officials are becoming involved.

Patrice Proctor, the chairwoman of the Valley Township Board of Supervisors, has signed on as a Coatesville-area campaign organizer.

And Kareem Johnson, the vice chairman of the Coatesville City Council, was standing outside the Masonic Hall holding an Obama sign and directing people to go inside.

"I'm not officially involved in the campaign, but I came out tonight to see if I could help," Johnson said.

The organizers took donations at the front door. Although the suggested amount was $10, they took less or more depending on what the guest could donate.

Although there was ample enthusiasm for Obama, some guests wondered if a black man could really win the presidency.

"People say it's not a big deal," said Depte, the retired county worker, who is African American. "But I'm not sure. People still got something in the back of their head that might tell them to see the color, not the candidate. If he were green, he would win."

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