Mason City, Ia. -- Barack Obama told a crowd here today that other candidates are copying his message of change.
Obama said his campaign has already succeeded in the "unlikely journey" of capturing the nation's hope and "what people said couldn't be done, we might do."
The Democratic presidential candidate also challenged voters to look at the candidates and ask "who has been about change their whole life."
"Everybody now is talking about change. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we're doing pretty good," said Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois.
Mason City was the first stop of Obama's nine-day tour that will continue through Jan. 3, the date of Iowa's caucuses. Recent polls show the Illinois senator is in a tight race, many showing him and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in first or second place, followed by former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.
He alluded to his high standings in the polls.
"Ten months ago, I stood on steps of old state capital in Springfield, Illinois, the place where Abraham Lincoln served and I announced that I was running for president of the United States and we knew there was going to be an unlikely journey," Obama said to about 400 people at Newman Catholic High School's gym this morning.
Obama said his campaign made the right decision to feed off of people's hopes instead of fears.
"Our faith has been vindicated because the people of Iowa have taken an extraordinary interest in this race … They know this is an important election. You know this is an important election," he said.
Obama asked undecided caucusgoers to raise their hands and roughly 20 percent of the people in the Mason City crowd did so. Obama joked to his staff to take note of those people.
Clarksville resident Ashley Bolin, 24, brought her mother, Mary Suralis, to the Mason City event. Suralis, a Florida resident, told Obama that she is supporting him for president even though she's a Republican.
Bolin is also a supporter but also can't participate in the Iowa caucuses because she will be out of the state on Jan. 3. Both said they would vote for Obama in the general election in November of 2008 if he wins the Democratic nomination.
"I'm tired of politics and I'm ready for someone who is a genuine person who is genuinely concerned about the American people and is willing to take a stand and do something about it," Suralis said.