1000 Doors for Obama — 1 month, 1000 doors, $5000

The Obamas in North Carolina
October 31, 2008, 10:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday was my Obama day.  Both Barack and Michelle campaigned in North Carolina yesterday, so I took the day off campaigning myself to go check out both of their rallies.  

First up was Barack’s Raleigh Rally, in a large open field downtown in the government district called Halifax Mall.  The area itself was an enormous rectangular field with government buildings flanking all sides, and the main legislative building in the back.  I got there at around 10:15 or so, and I had a VIP ticket, so I got to go into a really short line, which was just about the only bright spot of what would be a really frustrating next couple hours.  Our line moved painfully slowly, while the main line was breezing through really quickly.  The main line had about 10 times as many metal detectors available so ours took forever to get through.  So about an hour and a half later, and 100 feet away from where I started, I finally got into the open field area.  I walked around the side to where the VIP entrance was to the up-front area, which bottlenecked right behind a row of port-a-potties, very VIP classy.  Everyone was stuck there and they were saying that there were no more VIP entrances over there and that the Secret Service was cutting off that entrance.  So they directed us to the complete other side of the field, and said we could get in over there.  Which was a complete lie, because there we’re no volunteers on that other side, and nowhere to get through.  So I tried to get back through again on the port-a-potty side, and again failed.  At this point, they had removed the metal detectors at the entrances, so the crowds just started flowing in like mad.  Since I had spent so much time trying to get to the up-front area, the back area, itself barricaded from the other spots, began to get really full.  So I basically just resigned myself to staying in the back.  Obama then came on shortly after that, but I only knew that because I started hearing his voice.  He was so far away that I couldn’t have even pointed in the direction of where he was standing.  And to rub salt into the wounds, my two friends, who had regular, unwashed masses tickets, both somehow got up front, one into the press section literally right behind Obama, and the other into the bleachers just to his left.  Ridiculous.  

So, I grumbled a bit, grabbed lunch with my two lucky friends, and resigned myself to do better at the Michelle rally in Rocky Mount, an hour from Raleigh.  I was a bit late on the road, so I hustled out there, hoping for a small venue with a small crowd that I could easily maneuver around and get some good pictures.  And boy was I wrong.  By the time I got there, right around the time doors were to open, there was a line that stretched two blocks, including one really long block along the entire side of the school.  Realizing that this was in a high-school gymnasium, and that there were probably far too many people in that line, and inspired by my lucky friends from earlier in the day, I decided to abandon the line entirely and go to the back of the school where the press entrance was.  

The entrance to the press area was guarded by a cop with braces, who really was trying just a little too hard to be a hardass.  Luckily, as he was telling me that I had no chance of getting in there and asking me for my press credentials, a suited up guy, who I’m not sure if he was with the campaign or with the Secret Service (or, more likely, was the security liaison for the campaign), said I was ok to come in as a ‘freelance independent photographer’ (that was my pitch) and he escorted me in, right through the back door.  The gamble paid off huge, because when I arrived, the small gym was already half-full, and there would have been no way in hell I would have made it in there at the end of that long line.  

So donning my Obama Press Pass, I had free reign over the entire back and side of the gym, and access to two big press risers where I could perch up high and take pics from behind the crowd, and straight at the podium, and from the side of the crowd, to Michelle’s right.  Perfect.

As for the speeches, Barack was tough to hear from the way-back-zone, but he did rattle off a couple zingers that, as I thought, have made the news today.  He said McCain is throwing everything at him in these last couple of days, and is basically calling him everything in the book.  He said “By the end of this week they’ll be calling me a communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten.  Because I shared a bite of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”  I love those lines, and Obama clearly did too, as he chuckled a little bit at himself while delivering them.

As for Michelle, who I was able to hear much better, she is amazing.  I had seen her in a similar situation in the primaries.  It was a couple days after I saw Obama at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, and just like then, I was more smitten with her than I was with him.  Maybe it’s just because Barack is constantly in the news, and if you follow this stuff like I do, you can anticipate what he’s going to say, because he’s had roughly the same message throughout the entirety of the campaign.  But Michelle’s stump speech is different.  She has a better control of the emotional high’s and low’s of her speech.  She can rally the crowd into a thunderous, deafening roar, complete with high-school gym bleacher-stomping, and then take the crowd into a quiet, contemplative place, where the entire room is silent, and she can just barely whisper the words about the plight of her father having Multiple Sclerosis and still getting up every day to work in Chicago to bring up his family and bring a paycheck, and some dignity, home every night.  The crowd in the Rocky Mount High School gym was probably 98% African American, and they surely did love their Michelle.  When she asked at the beginning how many people had already voted early, nearly every hand in the room shot up proudly, a good sign for the campaign and it’s chances in North Carolina.  

So happy with my new press pass, and memory cards full of photos from the two events, I finally headed home.  Enjoy the photos.

PS – Duke itself has been flush with surrogates lately, and I’ll have an update on that later.  We had a couple members of the Wire here on Monday, Edie Falco of the Sopranos on Tuesday, and yesterday Ashley Judd, Valerie Biden (Joe’s sister), and Representative David Price will be stumping at Duke…  A post and some photos to come…


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