Barack Obama and Joe Biden once again took their campaign for change to Florida, where they packed the Bank Atlantic Center to the rafters for a Vote for Change rally. Doors opened at 4:30pm for the 7:30pm program, but the line began forming well before that. All in all, 20,000 screaming supporters filed in to hear Obama and Biden make their pitch for change.
If you've been to one Obama rally, you've been to them all, great speeches, huge crowds are the norm - which is to say, a blow-by-blow is unnecessary. Still, some noteworthy nuggets:
- First, campaign time is notoriously horribly late. It's like the reverse of bar time, when they move the clock forward and shout last call in time to get you out the door the moment the clocks hits closing time. This is no surprise. What is shocking, as compared to 2004, is the massive numbers of people who are turning out and the time it takes to fill the arena. 3+ hours in this case. Yet, through it all the crowd was jubilant, often breaking into changes of "Yes We Can!" or amusing themselves by doing "The Wave."
- Candy Crowley wins the award for nicest (and most popular) member of the traveling press core. Once she arrived she was besieged by local press, staffers and supporters and she gladly posed for pictures and talked up the crowd. She mostly talked about how long this campaign has been, and the fact that her children have to track her down since she is constantly on the move, but she was pretty excited about what is to come - meaning Election Day, transition and the first 100 days of a new administration.
- 5th grade reporter Damon Weaver was the most popular person in the arena before the rally started. Congressman Robert Wexler made a beeline for him when he noticed him backstage to congratulate him on his now famous Biden interview. When Weaver interviewed Crowley he drew a crowd of press, who were all eager to interview him when he finished up. The pint-sized reporter took it all in stride, even though he was clearly not expecting to cause such a stir.
- Invocation offered by a Rabbi. The Pledge and an awesome rendition of the national anthem kicked things off.
- The pre-program was totally practical. Obama staffers provided information about where and how to vote and vote early in Florida. They dispelled common rumors. They asked for help with GOTV. It was a great way to use the time before the speeches.
- Joe Biden took the stage and gave a great speech. He stayed almost completely on script, only deviating from his prepared remarks in minor ways. The big exception: when he let slip to the crowd that they would soon be joined by the rest of America, a reference to cutting into the 30-minute TV spot that was airing nationwide with a live shot from the rally. That was not on the teleprompter.
- Obama's body man seems to have his own fan club. When he went to the podium to pre-set items for the Senator he caused quite a ruckus. Alternately, that may be because people were just excited for a sign that things would soon be starting.
- Senator Obama's speech was carefully timed so that it would end in time to move into the live address, but the crowd keep forcing him to pause, and he had to cut the very end of his remarks to jump into the live broadcast. Despite that, the transition was flawless.
A slideshow from the event in is here.