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Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama in Portland: A Post-Mortem

posted by on May 19 at 9:28 AM


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.

And my colleague Matt Davis, stuck in the miles-long line to get into Waterfront Park, interviewed people swept up in Obama-mania (and a small cadre of Hillary Clinton supporters).

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…”

RSS icon Comments


Did you score?

Posted by Mr. Poe | May 19, 2008 9:43 AM

I saw a girl at a bus stop this morning who looks like she did score after the rally. She was still wearing her (now rumpled) "Yes We Can" t-shirt, and she had that walk of shame look about her.

Posted by Amy J. Ruiz | May 19, 2008 9:47 AM

I am not impressed with that story. Please make something up. Just don't be all Stephen Glass about it and you'll be fine.

Posted by Mr. Poe | May 19, 2008 10:02 AM

Interesting point: Kerry's rally in Portland, if I remember correctly, was long after he had secured the nomination, and even long after the convention. Kerry also had an 80k rally just days before the election.

On the other hand, we're still in the primary season and Obama is nearly topping that. Could Obama top 100k or more once he's secured the nomination, is in full general election mode, and has all the former Clinton supporters on board?

Posted by w7ngman | May 19, 2008 10:08 AM

But the important question is, what was the Decemberists' setlist?

Posted by Christin | May 19, 2008 10:17 AM

Congrats to all of you guys in Portland.

Allow some pacNW pride here, but using a 1-2 punch analogy, if Washington's caucus was the "1" for Obama, being the first post-Supertuesday state with a sizeable population to elevate Obama, Oregon was the vital "2" knockout -- one can hope.

Posted by mackro mackro | May 19, 2008 10:48 AM

This was the best Obama shirt I saw in PDX,

Posted by Jon | May 19, 2008 11:39 AM

Now that all you mathematicians have written off Hillary, I've been willing to consider Obama. I mean, anything's better than another Republican in the White House, right? So I've been willing to look past:

  1. Obama's "bitter" remarks.
  2. His Muslim flareups.
  3. The fact that he's spent his entire life in exotic places like Hawaii, Indonesia, and Harvard, rather than in America.
  4. The fact that the three most influential people in his life are fellow foreigners Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright, and William Ayers.

Despite all this, I've been willing to consider Obama. But when 75,000 people show up at his rally in Portland, that's the last straw. I mean, when you get 75,000 to show up at a political rally, you're entering cult territory. You're talking a politician with such a power to inspire that those people who aren't inspired are going to resent the hell out of those who are.

So just because of all you smug, self-righteous Obamatons in Portland (and on Slog too), I'm voting for John McCain this November. And if McCain is elected and blocks any effort to reform our bloated health-insurance system and nominates three more Antonin Scalias to the U.S. Supreme Court and plunges this country into war with Iran and gives Americans a permanent gas-tax holiday while still managing to send the price of gas up to $6 a gallon—well, don't blame me. Blame yourselves.

Posted by cressona | May 19, 2008 12:32 PM


Are you going Kyle on us, cressona? You will vote against your own party just because your candidate lost the nomination. Why can't you people admit that Obama won fair and square? He won, she lost and he's the nominee.

You have the emotional maturity of a 3 year old. If there is any solace in your post it is that people like you make a big stink, but usually stay home on election day.

Two words: President Obama. Get used to it, Kyle.

Posted by montex | May 19, 2008 1:07 PM

Cressona, that's not very good satire. It's too convincing, and there aren't enough clues in it to let the reader know you're aware of how silly what you're saying is.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | May 19, 2008 1:21 PM

Shoot, I forgot to add the following to my post @8:

DISCLAIMER: Slog is a satire-free zone. Any attempts at satire must clearly be labeled as such.

WARNING: To any prospective satirists on Slog. It is highly unlikely that anyone will find your weak attempts at satire amusing.

Posted by cressona | May 19, 2008 1:26 PM

cressona - thanks for hating America ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 19, 2008 1:57 PM

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