20,000 cheer on Obama; overflow crowd greets Romney.
Headline, Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Just so you know, Romney held his "rally" in a suburban real estate magnate's office, where he delivered a 15-minute speech to "several hundred" supporters.
Obama held his rally at the Target Center, home of the MN Timberwolves basketball team, where he delivered a 54-minute speech to 20,000 wildly cheering supporters. Thousands more -- rumor is another 20,000 -- wanted the free on-line tickets but were too late to get them. Now that's an over-flow.
I was one of the lucky ones to get tickets.
More, of course.
We parked on the edge of town and walked the last 10 blocks or so to the arena. Everywhere we looked there were ribbons of people streaming across the city towards the arena. Old people in wheel chairs, babies in back packs, black people, white people, and everything in between. People were getting off of the jam-packed light rail as well, as if heading to the world series, which, in a way, they were. A world series that changes the world.
When we got there, the lines wrapped in every direction around the building and for blocks beyond. I'm on Obama's MN finance committee, so I had a special green ticket that turned out to be about as special as maybe 5000 other green tickets which had been given to precinct coordinators and ardent volunteers.
Nevermind, the spirits in the long lines were high and the temps, by MN standards, were too. There was a foot-stomping drum and bugle corp by the front door keeping us fired up.
Every person who entered had to go through a mag detector -- belts and jewelry and coats had to come off, people got wanded if they beeped, and everyone also had their bags manually checked, so it took for frickin' ever to get inside. But once we did, we were right there on the main floor. We could have stood by the stage for the remaining three hours, or we could pass through another security point and take seats. We chose to sit.
It was a long wait. My friend Marian, who's a musician, noted that the canned corny music that all campaigns seem to go for went through at least three repeats of its loop. But it was fun to watch the entire hall gradually fill from the floor up to the rafters -- from the bottom up, not the top down, as Barack would say. And of course there was people-watching, and the inevitable WAVE and other stadium entertainments (and $4.50 water bottles, don't even think of the nachos) to keep us amused.
At around 4, Mayor Rybak, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Betty McCollum, and the peach-fuzzed mayor of Duluth, finally took the stage to introduce Sen. Obama, who bounded up the stairs as if he had just been nominated 8th grade class president.
Wait. One more person was there. Jane Freeman, widow of former Secretary of Agriculture and MN governor Orville Freeman -- who gave the nominating speech for JFK in 1960, came on stage to introduce Barack Obama. We should all have her grace and smarts.
"Two years ago I went to the Humphrey Day dinner and heard the junior Senator from Illinois speak," Freeman told the crowd. "I read his two books and they thrilled me. I went to work supporting Obama."
In his speech, Barack revealed another bit of history. By tradition, all senators carve their names in their desk drawer when they arrive in the senate. When Sen. Obama opened his drawer, there was the name of Paul Wellstone.
The speech was long and it was a speech of some substance, not a glib 15 minute sound byte speech like Mitt delivered later in Edina. To the credit of the audience, many of whom were attending their first political event, they hung on every word and cheered wildly at appropriate moments.
It was also the most astonishingly diverse crowd I've seen in Norski MN. It was young, old, white, black, tan and immigrant folks. It was labor and CEO's, residents of Glenwood and Kenwood, gays and straights, students and teachers, babies and grandparents. And there we all were, taking a whole LONG Saturday afternoon, not to watch a sporting event or a rock concert, but to make America a better place. I haven't felt this much possibility -- and hope --in decades.
Yes we can!