Obama's Red State Strategy

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sen. Barack Obama poked his head out from the black curtain to briefly take in the sight: more than 13,000 potential supporters, screaming and high strung, at the Taco Bell Arena on a Saturday morning.

Less than 72 hours before the biggest primary election day in American history, Obama traveled to one of the country's most conservative states.

In Idaho, it is simply not normal to see a candidate whose week began with an endorsement from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, ended with one from MoveOn.org and, in the middle, brought word of a new magazine ranking as the Senate's most liberal member.

"Can you believe it?" Obama asked Saturday from the stage as he surveyed the arena, which was filled to capacity.

Yes, Obama wants to capture more votes and delegates than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when 22 states hold Democratic caucuses or primaries Tuesday.

But the Illinois senator acknowledges a parallel objective: bragging rights.

After months of selling his candidacy as a post-partisan endeavor, Obama wants Tuesday to prove that he really can appeal across party lines and take states such as Idaho, Kansas and North Dakota, which voted Republican in 2004.

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