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by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & A New Record & r & & r & How do you win over a Portland crowd? Start your speech with two words: "Bicycle lanes."

That's just what Barack Obama did on Sunday, when he set a state record for turnout at a political event, according to the Oregonian. The Portland Fire Bureau estimated the crowd at 72,000 -- all jammed into the Tom McCall Waterfront Park to hear the man who could be president. It bested the 50,000 John Kerry drew in 2004 -- and Kerry had the double-whammy of Leo DiCaprio and Jon Bon Jovi to pump up his numbers. (Meanwhile, Obama's savvy advance team had local faves the Decemberists warm up the crowd.)

You could even find curious Hillary Clinton supporters among the throng. "I actually didn't vote for Obama," Tita Compere, a 25-year-old Clinton volunteer, told the Oregonian. As for Clinton's Friday night Oregon event, Compere seemed to like the beach-ball-batting scene on Sunday better: "[Clinton's event] was just 40-year-old white women."

Feeding the Beast

John McCain famously said, as quoted by the Boston Globe, "I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." Well, his education is fully underway, and the laboratory for his lessons is his own campaign. Now it's being reported that, in the face of the Barack Obama cash machine, McCain will rely more on the Republican Party and American taxpayers to buy all those TV ads and pay all those campaign gurus. Even though McCain chose not to use public financing for the primary season, the New York Times reports that he will opt into the more restricted system for the general election.

The problem is that Obama is on a roll -- he had raised nearly $240 million as of April, from 1.5 million donors. And he is expected to bring the Hillary Clinton fundraising machine into his fold soon. It all spells money problems for McCain, who hadn't yet cracked the $75 million mark by April.

The irony, of course, is that both Obama and McCain are running against a broken political system. "It's hard to be a reformer," Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, told the Times, "when you're trying very hard to raise as much money as you can."
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