by John McCormick
INDIANAPOLIS - With voters at the polls across Indiana, Sen. Barack Obama stopped by an area restaurant and polling place today before heading for North Carolina, where he will end this critical primary day.
"I think we campaigned hard and well in this state,'' Obama said at the Four Seasons Family Restaurant in Greenwood, Ind. "I think it's going to be close. I don't think anybody knows exactly what's going to happen. But as usual, I'm seeing a lot of enthusiasm among the voters. People are really engaged and excited about this campaign.''
As Obama downed another hearty breakfast like the one he had a day earlier in Evansville, Obama noted that he has "lost about 7 or 8 pounds" during the campaign, according to a pool report of the stop.
About 50 people were eating breakfast at the restaurant when Obama walked in.
One of his first table stops did not go well. As he approached a man sitting alone at a table, Obama was waved away. The man later told a Los Angeles Times reporter that he was not interested in meeting Obama.
"I can't stand him,'' he said. "He's a Muslim. He's not even pro-American as far as I'm concerned."
Obama got another surprise at another table. While talking to a trio of men eating breakfast, one handed him the bill. "This will seal the thing,'' the man said. The somewhat tightwad senator accepted the check and later took it to the cashier and paid it.
Obama's own meal was well recorded by the cameras. "You guys ever get tired of taking pictures?'' he asked the photographers at one point.
At his next stop, outside Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse, Obama spoke to reporters at greater length.
"I like winning every state,'' he said, when asked about his chances in Indiana. "I think there's going to be a good turnout. People seem very enthusiastic.''
Obama was also asked about his difficulties winning over blue-collar voters.
"It's really a mixed bag,'' he said. "There've been some states where we have won the blue collar vote. Wisconsin. We won it in Iowa. We won it in Minnesota. Then there are other states where we've not done so well, mainly because people are much more familiar with Sen. Clinton and President Clinton and their track record."
The Illinois Democrat offered praise for the Clinton political operation.
"You have to give them credit," he said. "They're the best established brand name in Democratic politics, maybe in politics overall. They've been on the scene for 20 years. They're not going to go down easy."
Obama prowled the building's parking lot looking for people on their way in to cast ballots.
"Any more voters?'' he would say. Aides said Obama was careful to meet the requirement that candidates stay 50 feet from the polling place.
"President Obama!'' called out Tracie Nelson, 37, a health care recruiter from Indianapolis.
"That has a ring to it, doesn't it?'' Obama said.