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U.S. Senator Barack Obama campaigns for president in Columbus

About 2,500 people went to the Columbus Convention Center to hear presidential candidate U.S. Senator Barack Obama speak. Obama touched on issues like healthcare, the Iraq War and energy and what he will do if elected to the White House in 2008.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman welcomed Senator Barack Obama to the city by formally endorsing the presidential candidate.

"My view and my feeling about Barack Obama is that I believe he should be and will be the next president of the United States of America. And I do heartily endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States," Coleman said.

Obama entered the convention hall to the sound of Aretha Franklin's "Think."

And he opened with quite a crowd pleaser.

"O-H! I-O! O-H! I-O! O-H! I-O! Ah now I know where we are," Obama shouted.

But Obama's lighthearted start soon took a serious turn. He told the crowd he knows America is tired of the Iraq War. Obama said Congress should never have been authorized the war. He vowed to end it.

"I can guarantee you, that if we have not gotten our combat troops out of Iraq by the time I am sworn into office, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They will have a new mission. I will bring an end to this war understand that," Obama said.

Obama also addressed the nation's health care crisis. He told attendees about his mother's death at age 53 from cancer. Obama said his mother spent her last days sifting through convoluted insurance policies instead of focusing on her health and family. He said he wants everyone to have health insurance.

"As president of the United States, I will put forward a plan to provide health care for every single American that is at least as good as the health care I get as a member of Congress," Obama said.

And Obama said he would implement a universal health care plan by the end of his first term if elected.

The senator also touched on the environment and energy. Obama said he wants to increase fuel efficiency on cars, put caps on greenhouse gases and expand the use of solar, wind and bio-diesel powers.

"When Dick Cheney was put in charge of energy policy, he met with environmental groups once. He met with renewable energy groups once. And then he met with the oil and gas companies 40 times, 40 times. So it's not surprising that Exxon Mobil is seeing record profits at the same time you've been seeing sky high prices at the pump," Obama said.

Obama said the American dream should be available to everyone. And he proposed raising the minimum wage.

"We've got to increase the minimum wage not just every ten years, but every year, make it a livable wage," Obama said.

Ohio is an important state in the upcoming presidential election. The state was once considered a red state, but it's now thought to be purple. It's likely the 2008 presidential candidates will work overtime in Ohio to try to get a chance at winning the state's Electoral College votes.