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Barack Obama makes a speech at Abington Senior High School on Friday. Credit: Alex Remnick

As his campaign wraps up a vigorous voter registration drive in Pennsylvania, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama spoke on Friday in Montgomery County - a region closely divided between registered Republicans and Democrats.

Yet nearly one-third of Obama's 6,000 audience members on Friday will not vote in November.

On the football field at Abington High School, its bleachers filled with students from Abington and other area schools, Obama mainly addressed issues pertaining to the economy and education.

Obama strongly emphasized his plan to create a tax credit that will subsidize the college tuition of Americans who conduct 100 hours of community service.

"I make a solemn vow to the young people of America," he said. "If you serve your country or your community . we are going to invest in you by making sure every single one of you can afford to go to college - no ifs, ands or buts."

Obama also shared the moment he found most noteworthy in last week's vice presidential debate - when Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin called his economic-resuscitation plan "job killing."

Obama said 750,000 jobs have been lost in the United States since January, and 7,000 in Pennsylvania alone.

"This is the economy that my opponent said made 'great progress' under the policies of George W. Bush," he said. "When Senator McCain and his running mate talk about 'job killing,' that's something they know a thing or two about."

Obama also addressed the current economic crisis, reminding the crowd that the U.S. has "faced tougher times than these," and explaining why he recently voted to pass the $700 billion bailout plan in the Senate.

"I made sure it included tax-payer protections and wasn't simply a blank check," he said.

"Even with this plan, we will face a long and difficult path to recovery. If I'm president, passing this rescue plan won't be the end to what we do to strengthen our economy - it will be the beginning."

He said the current financial crisis is the "final verdict" on an economic system with minimal governmental regulation.

Obama also pledged to invest $150 billion over the next decade in renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy.

"Nothing will help our economy more than that. Nothing will help our national security more than that. Nothing will help cure global warming more than that," he said.

Andrew Slade, a senior at Abington High and an intern for the Obama campaign, helped organize the presence of junior-high and high-school students at the speech, distributing free tickets and signing up 12 other Abington students to volunteer at the event.

"It's a good opportunity for students to learn about the political process," Slade said.

College senior Jaryn Fields, who was at the event, said she "particularly liked the idea of students doing some sort of service work and then getting grants to go to college."

Pamela Jordan, a resident of Montgomery County, said she liked that Obama "was able to clarify the jabs that Republicans have been putting out against him."

Jordan called the speech "phenomenal" and said she thought Obama would "absolutely" win Montgomery County in the election.

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