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Democrats rally in the heart of Hall
Civil rights icon Lewis urges folks to vote for Obama
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Diana Dokken, a leadership chairwoman volunteer for the Barack Obama Campaign for Change for Hall County, sports a tattoo she got two weeks ago in support of Barack Obama. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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Listen to U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta address fellow Democrats at a "For the People" Rally on Sunday in Gainesville.

Video: Watch Lewis rally the faithful to vote a straight-party ticket this fall and make Georgia a "blue state" once again.

AP political coverage

U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta fired up fellow Democrats at a "For the People" rally Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville.

Lewis, a civil rights icon, urged the partisan crowd to pull the Democratic lever in November, particularly to support the party’s presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

"We must get out and vote like we’ve never, ever voted before," Lewis told the hundreds gathered for the rally, which was organized by Democrats across North Georgia.

"We have an obligation, a mission, a mandate to make Georgia blue again."

Georgia often is regarded as one of the country’s "red," or Republican-leaning, states.

"We must do what we can to make Barack Obama the next president," Lewis said to the revved-up, cheering crowd.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

Also, in his 15-minute speech, Lewis took a stiff swipe at President Bush.

"The president we have now is the worst. He even makes Richard Nixon look good," he said, noting that he has met with every president since Kennedy. "As Democrats, we can do better."

Lewis urged the crowd to take advantage of early voting, which begins today.

With a $5-per-person donation, except for students, who got in free, people began streaming into the Mountains Center a couple hours before Lewis’ speech for a "meet and greet" time with Democratic candidates.

Several tables featuring Obama T-shirts and candidates’ literatures had been set up throughout the center. Rallygoers also posed for pictures beside a life-size cardboard cutout of Obama.

Musicians played bluegrass music from the stage and students supporting Obama painted the faces of children.

"We’re doing all that we can to help Obama get elected," said Jon Brown, a sociology major at Gainesville State College and president of the schools’ Students for a Progressive Society.

Brown, who hails from Gainesville, also was slated to perform "This Land is Your Land" at the rally.

Other candidates spoke at the event, as well.

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