October
26th 2008
Eyewitness to History: ej on the ground at the Obama rally at Colorado State

Posted under: American history, local news

This and all photos in this post are from the Fort Collins Coloradoan

Historiann.com commenter and special correspondent ej was at the Obama rally at Baa Ram U. this afternoon, and sent in this exclusive report:

I’ve been flattered by all the attention the presidential candidates were paying to Colorado, especially the Democrats, who haven’t had much cause to come here of late. The turnout at the rally for Joe Biden at Moo Moo U. in Potterville stunned me! But that was nothing compared to the events today. Early estimates had the Barack Obama crowd at Denver  hitting about 35,000. Actual tallies-over 100,000. I thought I would be safe showing up at the CSU rally close to 3-I wasn’t die hard enough to camp out, so a good seat wasn’t going to happen regardless. And after all, it was Fort Collins–how many people could there be? But when I finally got there, I was stunned by the turnout. Lines had started forming as early as 10 for a 3:30 speech, and they were forced to “close the gates” at 3. (I’m not really sure what that phrase means at an outdoor rally). So I stood along the train tracks facing the oval with hundreds of other folks who couldn’t get in. I was surprised by how fervent the crowd was-even those of us who didn’t have a seat.  Ed. note:  the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that there were 50,000 people at the Oval this afternoon.

We couldn’t see much through the trees, but we could hear just fine. Obama actually started speaking before 3:30 (another surprise for me. I was sure he would be late and there would be several irritating introductions). The first few minutes were about early voting, along with some nice personal touches for the CSU crowd. About 10 minutes in, he segued to his stump speech. I have to say, as someone who has been obsessively watching CNN of late, I thought most of this would be familiar to me, but I realize now that they all play the same sound bites over and over, and they tend to be the policy ones. There were parts of his speech that I’m sure weren’t new to him, but I had never heard before, and I found them really effective. He talked about opportunity, but made it really personal, and really pitched to a crowd of first-time voters. Who here doesn’t have a parent or grandparent who didn’t go to college, but was determined that their child would? Who here doesn’t have a parent or grandparent who didn’t have the right to vote, but marched so that their children could? (Granted, that last one probably doesn’t hit home quite as well in Colorado as it does in more diverse states, but the crowd loved it).

Historiann already mentioned the “raise your hand if you make less than 250k line.  In person, it played much better. The crowd was silent because everyone was raising their hand! He really does have an uncanny ability to connect on a personal level with an enormous crowd.  Interestingly, the lines that got the crowd the most frenzied were those about “one America” and condemnations of divisive politics. I guess in light of that, its easy to see why the Republican campaign is floundering right now.

He spoke for 30 minutes. I left immediately. In part because there was no chance to see him up close, but more because I was illegally parked and worried that someone would tow my car. All in all, I was overwhelmed by how enthusiastic people were-even those of us peering across the oval from the train tracks. The cynical side of me has to ask where all of these folks have been. I’ve been in Colorado for 8 years now, and I never in my wildest dreams imagined there were so many Democrats living alongside of me. Perhaps they’ve only now been emboldened enough to come out publicly, or maybe they are recent converts. In any case, I wish they would have been this excited 4 years ago, but am nonetheless thankful for their votes now.

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Eyewitness to History: ej on the ground at the Obama rally at Colorado State”

  1. Indyanna on 26 Oct 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    Maybe it’s like that judge supposedly said up in Boulder back in the … 19th? century: “….damn it, there were only nine Democrats in this county, and [somebody] ate half of them?!” :} On the marching so somebody else could vote, I think the Mountain States were way out in front of the hegemonic eastern core in enfranchising women and actually electing some of them. [Excepting New Jersey, of course, in the 1790s and early 1800s].

    This was a good report, ej; would like to have been there.

  2. Historiann on 26 Oct 2008 at 8:58 pm #

    Suffrage isn’t my bag, as you know, but I’m pretty sure that states like Wyoming wanted white women to vote because they could speed along their progress from federal territory to statehood.

  3. Notorious Ph.D. on 26 Oct 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    Today, for the first time, I let myself get excited about this. I’ve been holding my breath, trying not to jinx things, but I’m ready now.

  4. e.j. on 27 Oct 2008 at 6:05 am #

    Thanks Indyanna. Maybe now that they feel Colorado is in the bag, they’ll start showing you folk in Pennsylvania some love

    I’m with Notorious. I think this thing might just happen.

    All I have to say is that if it does, I want photos of Rose eating her 10 gallon hat!

  5. Indyanna on 27 Oct 2008 at 10:45 am #

    The _Times_ says today that Obama will make one more swing through PA (or through Pittsburgh and the Philly ‘burbs, skipping over the “Alabama” part), and that only because the McCainites are acting as if this is the one blue state they might be able to “peel.” Nice picture on the front page of the candidate looking out toward the golden dome of the capital in Denver. And under it, an interesting piece on workers and race in the upper Ohio Valley. Things seem like they’re solidifying back here, but a historian will presume little or nothing.

  6. ortho stice on 27 Oct 2008 at 9:59 pm #

    ej, thanks for writing this great report! I hope Historiann pays you well!