Obama Appeals to Crucial Train Swing Vote

We are already familiar with Senator Barack Obama's appeal to the crucial bicycle swing vote (between the three remaining candidates, his platform is the only one that even mentions cycling). Now, with the all-important Pennsylvania primary fast approaching (like a train, perhaps?) Senator Obama scrambled for votes on Saturday by taking an all-day, 100 mile trip by train "along the Philadelphia area's Main Line and on west to the capital in Harrisburg."

Certainly, Obama is not the first to campaign by train. Harry Truman is famous for his 1948 whistle-stop tour that covered 22,000 miles, and even the car in which Obama rode--a Georgia 300 Lounge Car--has in the past "carried Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton." But as the presidential campaigns have become more hectic and demanding, the carbon footprint of campaigning--done usually by SUV or private jet--has skyrocketed. Trains, as we've seen, are less carbon intensive than either SUV or private jet. And millions of Americans rely on trains to get to work, especially in busy corridors such as New England. So perhaps Obama was pandering to the train swing vote? Is there even such a thing?Well, probably not. According to the LA Times, this train ride was more about helping "Obama deliver his closing argument to a state that is viewed as a must-win for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton" than it was about demonstrating his low-carbon transportation bona fides. Riding along in a "patriotically decorated antique rail car" Obama spread his message of change by asking people to "get on board the change train."

Okay, so this was a somewhat hokey, made-for-tv campaign move. Still, Amtrak has been seeing record ridership, and hitching its star to Obama's rising star can't hurt. Whether or not Obama would, if elected, increase funding for public transportation remains to be seen, but it's worth repeating that millions of Americans rely on public transportation to get where they need to go. Seen in that light the voters that use public transportation may rightly be considered a swing vote.

More important than his stance on public transportation will be his stance on coal, and specifically, coal-to-liquid diesel fuel technology. In other words, let's hope Obama does not pander to the coal vote. That would be a serious blow to climate change, clean air and renewable energy advocates. . .

Via: ::LA Times

See Also: ::CBS: Forget Flying, Amtrak is In, ::Summer Train Travel: In Your Future?, ::The TH Interview: Andy Kunz, New Urbanist, ::Obama Calls for Cap-and-Trade, and ::Obama Steps it Up on Climate Change