07/03/2007 10:28 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Begins Second Act in New Hampshire

Shirtsleeves rolled up, an upbeat Senator Obama spoke to a crowd of about 400 locals and vacationers in the Lakes region of New Hampshire.

With smiling staffers out in full force and a noticeable secret service presence, Obama was confident, but modest about his fundraising success this past quarter.

"It's not about me. The reason people are coming out is because they are burning with a desire and want for change," said Obama. "They are insisting we write a new chapter of history in American politics."

Obama referred twice to the fact he did not cast a vote to authorize the war in Iraq. "(In Iraq), we have bad options and worse options. I knew that in 2002. I knew there would not be a good option once we got in."

A senior aide to Obama, asked about a poll of likely Democratic voters that showing Obama lagging behind Senator Clinton, said, "It may sound trite, but we're not focused on polls this far out. We got 260,000 donations. We are bringing out bigger crowds. This is what it's about." A poll last week showed Obama ahead of the rest of the field in attracting younger voters.

A fifth-grader asked about paying for college. Obama said he supports direct loans from the government to the people, taking out the middle man, so that every student can get to college.

The intensity of the competition between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton is palpable. At a House party in Concord after the lakes region visit, Obama is quoted by AP saying, "If I win the nomination against Hillary Clinton, then I must be pretty tough. I'm just being realistic. They don't play. They're very serious about winning, as are, I think, all of my very worthy competitors."

In New Hampshire, it's a two-person race between Senators Obama and Clinton. Today, Senator Obama joins Senator Clinton and her husband in Iowa, where Edwards factors in heavily and the race has a texture all its own.