updated 8/9/2004 5:24:47 PM ET 2004-08-09T21:24:47

Diners at Manny’s Coffee Shop and Deli got a little star power with their corned beef on rye Monday as Democrats John Edwards and Barack Obama campaigned together at the South Side institution.

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Vice presidential nominee Edwards and Obama, the U.S. Senate candidate in Illinois who won strong notices for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, spent about 15 minutes at the diner, chatting with customers and answering their questions.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., joined the two at the cafeteria-style restaurant that for decades has been a favorite spot for working people, police officers, businessmen and local politicians.

Paul Weber, a 37-year-old plumber, told Edwards that many people he knows are losing their jobs and that the situation is bleak for the working class.

Edwards replied that the country needs a president with a plan to keep jobs in the United States, someone who will stop giving tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and who is committed to bringing jobs back to the communities that have lost them.

“The first thing we need is a president who can see what’s happening, understand what you need,” said Edwards, who earlier in the day attended an executive meeting of the AFL-CIO.

Obama also shook hands with voters and workers at the deli but declined to discuss his Senate race or his new opponent, conservative Republican Alan Keyes. Keyes announced on Sunday that he had accepted the Illinois GOP’s request to become its replacement candidate and on Monday criticized Obama in a series of broadcast interviews.

The crowd that gathered in the deli was overwhelmingly supportive of the Democrats, with several diners wearing buttons for the John Kerry-John Edwards presidential ticket.

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