Barack Obama speaking in Pueblo, Colorado this afternoon
We cancelled our afternoon session to drive two hours from Denver to Pueblo, a small town in Colorado, when we heard Obama was coming to speak at a rally here. Obama had been to this town once before, and this time there were an estimated 20,000 people spilling onto the streets.
McCain’s supporters were demonstrating outside the rally, with slogans like “Nobama” and “Babies will die when Obama becomes President”.
People flocked from all over the United States to come, either because they had come earlier to volunteer or they drove to watch the rally intentionally. But many of those present were locals, who were hardcore Obama supporters. Young, old, a mix of faces – white, Hispanic, blacks, Asians. Security surveillance men in full black stood atop the buildings, scouring the crowd for suspicious faces.
After several speeches (including Michelle Obama), Barack Obama – the man himself – came on stage, amidst a throng of cheers. The man certainly has a commanding presence, no doubt about it. That he leaves you believing in something at the end is certain, but the speech seemed a little too nicely packaged. I had watched his speech the day before elsewhere, and it sounded like it was an exact recording of it. Granted, this late into the Elections you don’t want to be making any last-minute mistakes or a new concept that might shock voters (although one third of registered Americans would have voted by Tuesday morning). Although making some mention of Pueblo, and State Senator and Congressman Ken and John Salazar (Hispanics), it might have been good to make specific mention of Pueblo as a town in its own right – making relevant his Presidency to them. The counter to this, however, is that the speech is broadcast on network TV to the rest of America – and the world – and hence the message must appeal to voters all across.
The “nicely-packaged” messages included making sure that he mentioned “all of us” who were Americans – “black, white, Asians, hispanics”, “straight and gay”, “young and old”, and so on. But again, a necessity for him whose brand involves representing a wide variety of Americans. The only new message stated was in response to the morning announcement earlier that Dick Cheney was endorsing McCain, something he played up to the hilt.
The rally was like a big party, akin to the ones we’ve witnessed ourselves in March 2008 this year in Malaysia. Loud music was played on the speakers, shops were selling paraphernalia (badges, shirts, hats, banners, stickers) all the way out. People were asking for volunteers to do call-ups, asking people to make sure they went out to vote: this intiative is called a standard “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) initiative across campaigns.
This close to the election, almost every pundit predicts a landslide victory for Obama.