Thursday, October 30, 2008

Biden rally in Allentown, PA

This normally does not happen to me, but I was able to see both the future President and Vice President in the same week, okay well over a two day period :-) Thank God for the neighboring swing state of Pennsylvania.

So off I went to the Keystone state yet again. From all the signs I've seen in PA over the last two days, I am really surpised that it IS a swing state. I'd say there's about a 10:1 Obama: McCain ratio. However PA is a big state, and I know the middle and western part of the state is a lot more conservative. Still I'll take the eastern part (as it's closest to New Jersey anyways).

This was my first trip to Allentown since 2001 for a concert (I'm a former "groupie" so my experience from handling crowds at concerts comes in handy at political rallies too). Passing the state fair grounds where I saw Nine Days was kinda bittersweet, but I know I'll get to see them again. It just reminded me of a much more carefree time in my life at 21, when the world did not face the problems it does today. Two weeks after that concert the world changed forever when 9/11 hit.

I got to the event, and it was much more lax than the Obama event. First major difference was the weather. It was slightly chilly, but not raining. This one was also indoors so even if it did start to downpour, there was no worry. There was a much smaller crowd, but I kinda expected that since of the four candidates, Joe Biden is the least covered by the media. Vice Presidential candidates typically do not receive the coverage of presidentail candidates, but this time it's different since Sarah Palin is on the scene. He does not have the "celebrity' of his his opponent Caribou Barbie. It did not stop me from seeing him, especially since over the weekened, when my mom had his book out of the library, I begged her to take it. I just finished reading his book, so the timing could not have been more perfect.

It was a different wait outside too. I was called a babykiller by some protesters, and obviously single-issue voters who can't look beyond the abortion issue (that's a rant for another post). I actually shut one them up by telling her that in 18 years, all those babies will be shipped off to Iraq for John McCain's 100 year war. The volunteers working the rally could not have been nicer people. They gave everyone lawn signs (which we could not take in due to safety issues, but I was able to get it on the way out) and hot chocolate to everyone waiting. The lawn sign issue is such a contrast to NJ where our local Democratic Party HQ has sign-making parties where we handmade the signs.

I got in and was quickly able to nab the front row due to my concert experience. Since it was at a college, it is very nice to be mistaken for a college student. Even though it's my 3rd election, it's very nice when people think it's my first. It's also nice to hang around people who share my progressive values. Signs and accessories are not allowed inside at political rallies, which I would not have guessed by watching clips of them on TV. The staff at the rallies hand out signs for everyone to wave. I really wanted one, but they were strategic about handing out the signs. Even the handmade signs were handed out. So due to my location, I got a flag to wave instead.

Biden's speech was great, nothing that i hadn't seen before or clips of either. I am guessing that the candidates give the same speeches day in and day out because with all four of them, they seem similar. He did step away from the teleprompter a bit because there were two children in the audience, and he mentioned them. What I really liked about Biden's speech is how he takes the high road. He mentioned John McCain and Sarah Palin, and said that they are not bad people personally, but disagrees with their policies. I love how the Obama/Biden campaign chose to take the high road and tell Americans why they should vote FOR them and not AGAINST McCain/Palin. That alone shows a lot of class since I hate attacks.

This time the aftermath of the event did not involve an interview with NBC news, but instead I got to meet the future VP. He asked me if my vote would help him carry PA, and then I told him "unfortunately no, but it will help you carry New Jersey" I later got a pic with him, which will be posted to this blog later. From my brief conversation with him, Biden strikes me as a very down to earth guy who never let anything get to his head.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama rally in Chester, PA

I always wanted to do this in 2004, but since I was living in New York at the time, it's not like a presidential candidate would come to a dark blue state. Now that I live in New Jersey, I finally decided to take advantage of my neighboring swing-state of Pennsylvania, and attend a rally.

When I was home for the weekend, my friend informed me of an Obama rally this week in Chester, PA which is just south of Philly. About an hour and a half from me, and totally worth it to see the future President. The rally was in the morning, so I knew that I had to get there early. I left home at 4 AM, only stopping at 7-11 to get an Obama 7-election cup for hot chocolate.

We could not have had worse weather. It was about 39 degrees and pouring rain. I was hoping to get some good pictures, but at the same time, I was worried about ruining my camera in the rain, so it did not come out much. I was bundled up and dressed in layers, luckily I wore a hoodie so it did keep my head a little bit warm. I didn't care how cold I got because I knew that I had another sweatshirt in the car, and that I could always turn the heat on. I got to Chester wtih no traffic problems, but parking was another story. By the time I finally parked the car, the line to get in was about 5 blocks long. I am not sure how much longer it got after me. Everyone was trying to sell us stuff while we were waiting in line. One guy selling buttons was so enthusiastic about it that he kept telling us "forget Joe the Plumber (ok Joe the unlicensed plumber, and tax cheat, your 15 minutes are about to expire) what about Dan the Button Man." I purposely left my purse locked in the car because I knew security would be tight so I didn't bother. So because of that, I did not have any money with me. But that creative comment would have sold me a button otherwise (let's set aside the fact that I have 3 buttons already).

The security was not that bad oddly enough. To be honest, the security at Yankee Stadium is tighter than the security that the Secret Service provides. Once I got in, I was about 25 rows deep, which is pretty good for most people, but I am a former "groupie" that was very used to pushing my way up front. And I could not see a thing from where I am because of everyone's umbrellas. So so much for getting pictures from there. I wanted at least one picture of the future president. So I got up and moved. I wound up over by the press railing, which was not that much closer, but I was at least able to attempt to get a picture from where I was standing. Plus I knew the sound quality would be better from by where the press was.

Barack Obama came on at about 10. His first comment was on the weather, and telling us how we must have really wanted change if we were willing to wait outside in this weather to see him. I had heard most of his speech before, since I am always watching MSNBC and watch things on youtube all the time. My favorite part was when he told parents to get involved in their children's lives and to turn off the tv. My mother is in education, and she is always commenting on how detrimental screen time is to a child's life, and it's nice to see a presidential candidate think the same way.

After the speech, I had hoped to get a picture or shake hands, but instead I was approached by an NBC news Philly reporter, and was interviewed by them. I am not sure if I made it on because I only get NBC news New York. As much as I hate Fox News, if I was interviewed by the local Fox affiliate, I would have gotten to perhaps see myself on TV (since I get both NY and Philly's Fox stations). They asked me about my thoughs on Obama carrying PA. I told the reporter that the poll numbers look good, but polls do not win elections. We still have to get out and vote, and make sure our vote is counted properly (something I am very worried about this election system, as the last two presidential elections were not clean).

All and all it was a very good experience. Well worth braving the rain for it. I got about 100 feet from the future President :-)