For those unfamiliar with downtown Grand Rapids, that is the Alexander Calder sculpture "La Grande Vitesse". It is the symbol of this city; from the street signs to t-shirts, it adorns almost everything around here. Only fitting (and just a tad predictable) that the Obama campaign would chose the Calder Plaza to hold an outdoor rally, and around 16,000 people from my not-so-little town came on down in the chilly October morning to see what they hope will be the next president of the United States. So, we start out with a picture of that, just because it's damn near obligatory. They might come and take my camera away if I don't.
Let me start out by saying that the Obama campaign has been wonderful to work with this entire year. Just for kicks, I asked for riser space today, never thinking I could get it - and I got it.
So, I had great position, with the Calder as a backdrop. It was dark when I got there a little after 6am - cold and a light rain falling. Fortunately it stopped, and I was able to move around a bit between the three different risers. Here is the prompter before anything even started-
Crowd was pretty festive - and what a difference from last weekend with Hillary when it was sunny and 80; today everyone was in their winter gear.
It's too bad the Michigan Democrats couldn't get Hathaway or some other candidates/state pols over here. House Reps Robert Dean and Mike Sak were left to carry the load again. What's up with that? Anyway, the cheers when the man came out were ear-splitting.
And he launched into a speech that was heavy on the economy, of course. Hit the themes that the middle class wants to hear - the need for jobs, education, energy independence. Talked about the bailout. The GR Press has some details -
"What this event has taught us is that at the end of the day there is no real separation between Wall Street and Main Street," Obama said.
But he warned that it would merely mark the beginning of what would be a long journey to economic recovery.
"This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we have not seen in nearly a century."
You can listen to the speech here.
Very serious. Very presidential. And my heart goes out to the guy - the Republicans have broken everything. Name it, they have ruined it, and now we get to put it all back together. I'm not telling you anything you don't know.
I waited for Obama to smile - which he did, of course. And what a killer smile he has. Makes you feel like everything will be OK, because he's got the intelligence and the temperment to be an excellent president.. He can handle this. I doubt McCain could.
Afterward, he jumped down and greeted the front row of people - and was mobbed of course.
I want this guy to be president so bad I can't stand it.
My friend Marybeth, best Democrat I ever knew, said to me before the '04 election, "I always fall in love with the candidate. Every time."
I never really have before.
There is always a first time.
Since McCain is pulling out, I doubt that Obama will be back around in Michigan. So, once again, I would like to thank the wonderful staff that made these events so enjoyable. Being around people who are positive, who are happy, and who are fired up, is so inspriring... not sure what I will do without it.
Maybe I'll go bug that Schauer guy now...
More pictures in the Flickr set. 43 as of now, and I'll probably add more tonight.