Tonight we Minnesota Obama supporters are gathering with Barack Obama and his family in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, for what we hope will be a victory celebration as Barack gains enough delegates to be the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States.
I'll be posting live updates from the Xcel--so here's hoping the night is exciting!
I'm currently posting from the floor of the Xcel Energy Center (pictured at left), home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild and the site, during the first four days of this coming September, of the Republican National Convention. All in all, a fabulous place for Barack Obama to declare victory, and to start his campaign against John McCain off on the right note.
First, I need to give a "thank you" shout out to the Obama press-office folks in the bowels of the Xcel for letting me in with my laptop--they even gave me a shiny new press credential--so that I can post this blog. I appreciate it! (Possibly my Super Tuesday-vintage "I AM AN OBAMA PRECINCT CAPTAIN" button helped.)
Second, apropos of
nothing the coming race:
John McCain voted to filibuster the minimum wage. John McCain doesn't support the troops. John McCain agrees with Bush's Iraq strategy. John McCain wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. John McCain supports NAFTA. John McCain is a puppet for the lobbyists. John McCain is fine letting our troops rot in Iraq for 100 years.
["Epilogue" deleted; sorry if you missed it. Next time I post a popular Obama diary I'll put it up again. Instead, I'll leave you with a couple of nice pictures from Tuesday night:]
Update 28 the last (I think), 9:54 PM CDT: The Obamas have cleared out, and plenty of the press is heading for the exits as well. Volunteer Mia, who helped me get in (and who was right up by the stage for the speech), is pleased to see the blog. She just showed me the point-blank pictures she took.
In my last glance at the CNN results site, Clinton leads in South Dakota by 11.56% (with 68% reporting), while Obama leads in Montana by 20.34% (with 9% reporting). Those contests will almost certainly land Obama 16 pledged delegates, which will put him over the top for the nomination. Hooray--we did it!
As my Huffington Post neighbor left, she handed me her business card--as had been suspected in the comments, she was indeed Mayhill Fowler. Ms. Fowler was very nice throughout; she told me she'd like to write a story about Michelle Obama's wardrobe (which she loves), but she probably won't because she doesn't think the reaction would be positive. What a scoop--I'm a regular Mike Wallace!
Thanks for reading and commenting, folks. Let's get back together in August for the convention, huh?
Update 27, 9:40 PM CDT: They step down from the stage and shake supporters' hands. I'm going to try to gravitate toward the stage a little. (I won't get within touching distance, I'm sure.)
Update 26, 9:38 PM CDT: Closing. "This was the moment when we began to provide good jobs to the jobless. .... The rise of the oceans began to slow. ... We ended the war." Repeats: "This was the moment."
"Thank you, Minnesota. God bless you. God bless the United States of America."
Cheers and music. Barack and Michelle in front of the podium. Waving to the crowd.
Update 25, 9:35 PM CDT: Obama points out his legislative accomplishments, followed by what he says he's learned. "Every so often, there are moments that call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again." The Revolution, the Civil War, the Greatest Generation, union picketers, feminists, civil rights protesters. "America, this is our moment!"
Update 24, 9:32 PM CDT: Things we won't see from Obama's campaign, such as "using religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. .... We are always Americans first!"
Update 23, 9:31 PM CDT: End of a rousing series of shots at McCain on the economy. Obama's policy, though--"That's the change we need, and that's why I'm running for president."
Big cheer. 17,000 people break out in "YES WE CAN!"
Update 22, 9:28 PM CDT: The economy. Maybe McCain should spend less time taking trips to Iraq, and more time taking trips to the places hardest-hit by the current state of the economy.
Update 21, 9:25 PM CDT: Now we're talking about Iraq. "It's time" to come home, and to give our service members the benefits they deserve when they get here.
Update 20, 9:23 PM CDT: Next up is John McCain. McCain's platform? "It's not change."
Update 19, 9:21 PM CDT: Now he's talking about unity. "We owe our country a better future. ... Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America!" (The ! was in the subtitles on the JumboTron.)
Update 18, 9:19 PM CDT: Speech continues with gracious shout-outs to his competitors. Clinton singled out, understandably: big cheer from the crowd when he names her. Mentions she's won South Dakota and congratulates her for her performance throughout the contest. "I'm a better candidate for having had to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Update 17, 9:14 PM CDT: After several minutes of trying--and failing--to quiet the deafening roar from the crowd, and then a long series of thank-yous....
"Our primary season has finally come to an end. .... I will be the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States of America."
Update 16, 9:07 PM CDT: The Obamas take the stage to U2's "Beautiful Day." Bedlam in the Xcel.
Update 15, 9:05 PM CDT: The first speaker has been announced up: University of Minnesota "communications teacher" JoAnn Syverson. Big cheer line: "I love being a Democrat, and I love Barack Obama."
JoAnn tells us her son is now serving in Iraq. Later, she admits to being a former (gasp) Republican. Leads to her next big cheer line: "We. Need. Change." Then: "We deserve better than four more years of the policies of George W. Bush." Several more "deserves" lead to "We deserve Barack Obama."
Update 14, 8:50 PM CDT: The Clinton speech is not playing in here. If it's as annoying as Kos says, that may be for the best.
CNN (and probably other media outlets) has now called South Dakota for Clinton. Bummer. Obama's still only 11.71% behind there, which means he's still on pace for 7 important delegates.
Here's the e-mail message I (and likely a lot of you) just got from Barack:
I'm about to take the stage in St. Paul and announce that we have won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
It's been a long journey, and we should all pause to thank Hillary Clinton, who made history in this campaign. Our party and our country are better off because of her.
I want to make sure you understand what's ahead of us. Earlier tonight, John McCain outlined a vision of America that's very different from ours -- a vision that continues the disastrous policies of George W. Bush.
But this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past and bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.
It's going to take hard work, but thanks to you and millions of other donors and volunteers, no one has ever been more prepared for such a challenge.
Thank you for everything you've done to get us here. Let's keep making history.
(I added some carriage returns to make it look prettier.)
Lucky Update 13, 8:43 PM CDT: An Obama campaign video paced by his 2004 DNC speech (I think I've seen this one on YouTube) plays on the JumboTron. Cheers from the crowd. There are very few seats remaining in the arena except for the ones directly behind the camera riser. (The best seats available, I think, are the ones in the second deck straight behind us. Empty at the moment, but the view from there has to be great.)
I gather from comments that Hillary is speaking at the moment. We're not seeing it in here; the JumboTron just shows closed-circuit video from inside the arena. Is she saying anything interesting?
Whoa--it appears that I have a reporter from Japan on my right. (HuffPo lady on my left.) Another reporter just walked up and had a long conversation with him in Japanese. This may handicap my ability to overhear scuttlebutt.
Obama campaign video ends; music afterward was Aretha Franklin and "Think" first, then U2, "City of Blinding Lights."
In South Dakota, with 29% of precincts reporting, Clinton leads by 12.81%. Obama still on pace for 7 delegates.
Note the poll I've put up: should I keep going with this fake objectivity? My neighbor from Huffington Post suggests that, instead, the other progressive bloggers in the area and I should "pick a moment and storm the camera riser." She's clearly a rabble-rouser.
Update 12, 8:23 PM CDT: Not much happening here. "Move Along" by The All-American Rejects (unfortunate name, there) is blasting from the P.A., and the JumboTron is on closed-circuit from inside the arena.
At last: they've started filling up the "bad seats" with us behind the camera riser. Maybe we will fill this place after all.
Vote-counting update: with 19% of the vote in, CNN reports Clinton winning South Dakota by 13.86%. Gee, that doesn't look good. Won't stop the nomination, though.
My Huffington Post neighbor just pointed out Peggy Noonan standing two tables away. She's currently slathering on make-up. "Please tell me she isn't putting on perfume," says my neighbor. Said neighbor has snapped several pictures of Nooners.
[It appears I skipped Update 11. D'oh.]
Update 10, 8:15 PM CDT: Markos says CNN has called the nomination for Obama; no such news on the floor here. (Hey, that was just Richard Wolffe who walked by....)
The first South Dakota results are in (from CNN); with 14% of the vote in, Clinton leads by just under 11%. A South Dakota loss would be a bummer, but the current pace still puts Obama in shape to get 7 pledged delegates out of the state (a win means 8); and according to Obama's website he's 8 delegates from the nomination. So it's clearly just a matter of time, even if you don't believe CNN's call.
Update 9, 8:00 PM CDT: The crowd got bored enough of McCain's speech on the Jumbotron that they started doing "the wave." The JumboTron cut to closed-circuit video inside the arena; big cheer. Cut back to McSame: booooo. Now we're back to closed-circuit. I hope they go back to MSNBC after McBush is done speaking.
Ooooh--now it's the will.i.am "Yes We Can" video on the JumboTron. At the Target Center (Minneapolis) rally Obama held back on February 2, I was disappointed that they didn't use that at all. Mistake fixed!
I'm a little worried at this point that the Obama folks might not try to fill the entire stadium. We're at about 95% capacity at the moment--on the stage side of the media riser. Behind the media riser, which is about 30-40% of the stadium, there isn't a soul.
I'm told the South Dakota results are going to start coming in in a few minutes. Woo-hoo!
Update 8, 7:47 PM CDT: It's nice to have MSNBC on the Jumbotron. McCain is speaking at the moment; he was lustily booed when he came on, but now the crowd's largely ignoring him. I can't really hear what he's saying, but I think the "A Leader We Can Believe In" is a pretty funny theft.
The crowd is still coming, albeit slowly; on the good side of the camera riser, we're three decks high on the stage-right-side seats, two decks high on stage left, and one deck (with the second deck filling up) behind the stage. There are several thousand empty seats on my side of the camera riser, though. I imagine those will fill up last.
My neighbor from the Huffington Post was gobsmacked that the Wi-Fi connection here costs $175 a head. (Yikes!) So I think I'll stick with my trusty cellular modem. Arianna is very nice and all, but she ain't gonna pay for my Wi-Fi....
Update 7, 7:22 PM CDT: They've pretty well filled the lower bowl--or at least on the good side of the camera riser. (BTW, we in the cheap press seats are on the bad side of that riser. I do not have a clear sightline to the stage, though I plan to move a little when I need one.) Now the upper decks are starting to fill in.
A rally volunteer just came by to remind me to mention that there are Kossacks aplenty among the volunteer corps, as well as several local Minnesota bloggers. Sean from MNPublius, also on the floor, happened by to tell me that he has no intention of being objective or stone-faced here, either.
Update 6, 7:09 PM CDT: MSNBC is playing on the Jumbotron, and they've put up Keith Olbermann interviewing Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar--who's being interviewed right here on the floor. The crowd--we're over 50% now--is going wild. My fake objectivity is being sorely tested already.
Update 5, 7:08 PM CDT: We're getting close to half-full now. I've just heard terrible news (from a nice lady sitting next to me who told me she works for the Huffington Post): here in press row, it is Overwhelmingly Uncool to cheer during the rally. Now, I stood in the bowels of the Xcel for an hour waiting for a press credential, but this is going to be the real sacrifice. Barack Obama is going to take the stage as the new Democratic nominee for President, and I'm expected to sit here "stonefaced"?!? Aaargh!
Maybe the fact that I'm writing for a fervently partisan blog gives me the right to drop any pretense of objectivity? (After all, I am wearing an Obama t-shirt and the aforementioned PRECINCT CAPTAIN button.) Damn, this evening is shaping up to be much harder than it appeared....
Update 4, 6:52 PM CDT: Well, my personal interests at the rally are dealt with--my wife and mother-in-law have gotten in and gotten seated (in the crowd, not swanky ol' press row--P.S., it's not actually swanky). Oh, tragedy: my wife reports that her mother brought two umbrellas along to fend off the rain threatening outside, and they had to forfeit them at the entrance. Hopefully we can recover them, but if not, we'll consider it a donation to the cause. (Er, not one that needs to be reported to the FEC, though....)
The arena seats are maybe 10% full at this point, and they're filling in in an orderly fashion. Haven't seen any newly updated numbers of delegates; do we think they've put a halt to supers so that Montana & South Dakota's pledged delegates will put Barack over the top?
Update 3, 6:37 PM CDT: I see two seating sections full at this point, with more folks streaming in all the time. Here on the floor, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is talking to a bunch of press types (including Erik Escola, of Twin Cities public television and (formerly?) WCCO radio) three tables away. Now there's a clutch of reporters around her. Maybe I should go hear what she's saying....
Update 2, 6:23 PM CDT: The public is making its way in. MSNBC (showing Chris Dodd's interview) and the Obama website agree that Obama is currently ten delegates short of the nomination. Since it's a cinch that he'll get at least ten from Montana plus South Dakota, this thing is over. (As if you needed me to tell you that.)
Update 1, 6:11 PM CDT: An announcement just came over the P.A.--they're letting the public in. Here we go....
Update 0, 6:05 PM CDT: The general public hasn't been let in yet, so there are very few people in the stands. Lots of people milling around me among the press tables, though. The organizers have had MSNBC's coverage up on the big screen in the middle of the arena for most of the time since I arrived; looks like the network is following the delegate countdown.
Further bulletins as events warrant....