Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boots on the Ground at the New Hampshire Rally with James Taylor and President Obama!!

by Blueberry T

How was your day?  Want to hear about mine?  ;-)  I spent Saturday up in Nashua, NH at the Obama rally!

I got there around 10:30 (for an event slated to start around 2), parked and walked a few blocks toward the school.  There were a lot of police redirecting everyone, and streets closed, of course.  This was one of the first things I saw, just behind the school where the rally would take place.  A little sobering, but I’m glad they were prepared!  

After the police shunted me on a detour a few blocks around the school, I finally found the end of the line, which was about 5 blocks long at that point, and not moving at all.  (Note in this picture, the line goes down the block on one side, back up in the middle of the road, and then back down again on the far sidewalk.)  At this point I was wishing I had one of the coveted “green tickets” that seemed to let people in via a very short line, or that I had worn my trusty walking cast so they would have let me in the ADA entrance (only kidding; that would have been cheating). 

I got to talking to people nearby, and wouldn’t you know it but one of the women I met is a NH woman whose brother lives a few doors down the street from me – small world!  The advance information said they wouldn’t start letting people in until noon, so we were all really happy to see the line starting to move pretty quickly around 11:10; I was through security in less than a half hour.

It was a bit of an odd set-up because I think the original plan was to be indoors, but it was such a nice, warm day (unusual for the last week of October in NH), and the crowd was so big that they opted to be outside.  They had bleachers at either end of a large space about 400-500 feet long, with two stages – one about a third of the way down, set up for the musicians, and the other toward the far end, set up for the President.  So, where to go?  I could have gotten a seat on the bleachers near the entry, but it was so far from the stage that I decided to stand.  (My feet have not yet forgiven me.)  I ended up in a spot in between the two stages, which was actually a pretty good location as it turned out. 

At this point it was about 11:45, and President Obama wasn’t due on stage until around 2 p.m., so this gave us all a lot of time to look around, chat with people nearby, and try to find the best spot to be able to see, given that there was barely room to move.  The crowd near me was surprisingly diverse (NH is not very diverse; I say this as someone who went to school, lived and worked in NH).  There were quite a few people of color; numerous Spanish-speaking people within earshot; many children, teens, twenty-somethings, and all ages up to white-haired folks.  Given the highly touted gender gap and NH’s “Live Free or Die” motto, I’m happy to report that there were a lot of men; in fact, to pass time I came up with my own “profile” of the older male Obama supporter near me (grey/white hair, baseball cap, fleece, glasses, mustache). Lots of younger men too, some in suits. The tall ones all seemed to be in front of me. Many women of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes.  It was good to see small groups, chatting spontaneously while we passed the time.

This T-shirt was a favorite among the crowd:

We knew that the President was nearby when a helicopter started circling and we saw this guy on the school roof.  He looked a little scary, but I think we were all grateful for the work he does. 

A while later, someone to my left jostled me to try to get through the crowd – imagine my surprise to have up close and personal contact with the Secret Service!  I have even more respect for the incredibly hard job they have to do to protect the President in such crowds.

Mercifully sooner than I expected, the program got underway.  Maybe they started early because the place was full, and they were turning people away.  After the Pledge, a teenage girl did a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem; only when she went off stage did we realize that she is blind.  There was a benediction, then a short welcome and firedup-readytogo rallying call from a young field organizer; I expected all the state Democratic candidates to be there making short speeches, but that did not happen.  Nirvana.

Next we had a HUGE treat – James Taylor performed a wonderful set, including quite a few of my all-time favorites.  I was not very far away from that stage – maybe 50 feet or so – and I could not believe we were all being treated to this fantastic, free concert!  He sang How Sweet It Is; Sweet Baby James; Fire and Rain; You’ve Got a Friend; I Feel Fine; MexicoCarolina on My Mind; Shower the People With Love; and a couple more that I am forgetting right at the moment. His voice sounded even better than on recordings – he and his musicians (including cellist from the Boston Symphony Orchestra) were fabulous!  He also spoke about how important this election is, and made a strong pitch for re-electing President Obama, leading a “4-more-years” chant.  "Vote for President Obama and give him a Congress he can work with." I kind of doubt that James Taylor is the “warm up act” very often, and I want to publicly tip my hat to him and say how much I appreciate having heard him today - so much so that I decided to give another donation to the Obama-Biden campaign, in his honor. Just fantastic – what a class act!


Senator (and former Governor) Jeanne Shaheen gave a rousing and blessedly short introduction to the President, including a great line about “not needing binders full of women because we have ballots full of women.” 

Then, voilá, there was President Obama, right in front of us, with that megawatt smile!  (Sorry, photos here aren't great because I had to take pictures with camera held with one hand, high above my head, and I couldn't see what I was doing!)  He made a great closing argument, emphasized that has kept his promises, kept the country safe, honored our veterans, and worked to level the playing field; argued that we cannot go back to the policies that got us into the financial mess.  He made an impassioned plea that the inalienable rights of Americans apply to us all (black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, man, woman...) and argued that politicians should not make health care decisions for women.  He included a new riff detailing how Romney cut taxes for 278 ultra-wealthy families while he raised fees on everyone when he was Governor of Massachusetts.  He highlighted how certification fees to become a barber or a nurse went up, fees on gas, fees on milk, fees on the blind, along with fees at the state colleges and universities, and then the best part – how Romney increased fees on birth certificates (“which would have been expensive for me”), marriage certificates and for funerals and burials – literally “cradle to grave fees” that hit everyone in Massachusetts.  (Here is the excellent new campaign ad on Romney's fees.)  He made a strong plea that he will continue to fight for NH and he asked NH to stick with him.  

Here is the C-Span video of the rally.  I was really interested to see the after-speech interactions with the crowd (most of which I could not see at the time, but my part of the crowd did show up around the 35-38 minute mark (I was near where Joe Scarborough was standing, if you spot him).  It must be so exhausting and energizing at the same time!  He is truly a man of the people. 

Here are two reviews that I found that give a recap of the event: WaPo and local paper.  Here are more photos from the rally and a transcript/summary.

My feet hurt, but the rest of me is very happy!   

No comments:

Post a Comment