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Obama tries to fire up voters at Philadelphia rally

PHILADELPHIA - President Barack Obama tried to recapture some of the big-stage excitement of his 2008 campaign yesterday, imploring voters not to reward what he called Republican cynicism and incompetence by sitting out the Nov. 2 elections.

The president delivered one of his most stinging indictments yet of the GOP record to several thousand people under blue skies in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Obama acknowledged that many Americans are frustrated, especially about the economy. He said Republicans have decided "to ride that frustration and anger" without providing solutions. And he said congressional Republicans opposed his administration and the Democratic majority on almost every issue, in the hope that stalemate would depress Democratic turnout in the midterm elections.

Reminding voters of their enthusiasm for his presidential campaign, Obama said, "We need you as fired up as you were in 2008." His 28-minute speech was the second of four planned large rallies designed to spur Democratic turnout to dampen what many expect to be big GOP victories in House, Senate and gubernatorial elections.

Yesterday's event, before a mostly black audience, was somewhat smaller and less ebullient than last week's rally on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. Still, organizers said more than 18,000 people turned out, including those in overflow lots who listened on speakers.

It's unclear whether the president can stir up enough Democratic passion to avert a GOP takeover of the House, which would require a net pickup of 40 seats.

Democrats confront not only listless voters who feel this year's elections are not nearly as exciting and meaningful as his record-breaking election was, they also must cope with liberals who feel that Obama and congressional Democrats have let them down.

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