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.

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