2008 Obama in Portland: A Post-Mortem
posted by May 19 at 9:28 AMon
That photo, ripped from Wonkette, sums up Barack Obama’s visit to Portland yesterday.
At the waterfront, he gave his standard stump speech. We need health care, we need to end the war in Iraq, McCain will carry on Bush’s policies, college should be affordable, McCain’s gas tax holiday idea is a gimmick, we want change, vote for change on Tuesday, etc. I’ve heard it before.
The bigger news: Via the Wall Street Journal, “the Democratic frontrunner attracted a crowd of 75,000 according to Duane Bray, battalion chief with Portland Fire and Rescue.” Shit goddamn. That’s more than twice the size of Obama’s previous record crowd. Why are Portlanders so eager to risk heat stroke for a glimpse of Obama? Because—unlike you guys in Washington—our primary is so late it rarely means anything. This year we get a say, and we’re giddy.
The Mercury’s Erik Henriksen summed up the speech—and the t-shirt vendors—here.
Looking back from the press area, the field of infinitesimal people stretches back and back and back: John Kerry supposedly packed 50,000 people in here when he showed up with Bon Jovi (tangent: as Scott Moore noted earlier, the Decemberists are to Portland as Bon Jovi is to Jersey), and if this crowd isn’t 50,000, it’s damn close*. I can’t see where they could possibly fit anyone else in. The park is packed, people are still crossing over the Hawthorne Bridge, boats float in the water just offshore, people on their decks in swimsuits, lounging about and listening, and even the Portland Spirit is floating just N of the Hawthorne, people leaning against the railings to try and catch the words that echo over the park and bounce off of the bridge’s steel and concrete.
Tim Frasier, 24, in the Obama t-shirt, had dragged his friends Sarah Stevenson, 24, and Aaron Martin, 25, along. Martin said he was drunk when he got Frasier’s email from Obama’s site on Thursday night, and just agreed to sign up. The next evening he got a call from Obama’s campaign asking him to volunteer. “I said yes again,” said Martin. “But I don’t think I can actually do it. I have a biology exam to sit, and if I don’t show, I won’t graduate.” Excuses, excuses. “We were saying wouldn’t it be great if there’s Obama water on sale when we get down there,” said Frasier. “For like $25 a bottle. It’s going to be elitist water…”