Sunday, November 11, 2007

JJ Dinner Shows Momentum Is With Barack Obama

DES MOINES -- In this iconic Iowa building, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, site of hundreds of scrapbook-making high basketball games, that elusive, unseen energy known as momentum has something of a ghostly presence.

On Saturday night, during a marathon Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and political rally that lasted nearly five hours, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama seemed to have more of the Vets magic in his campaign. With more than 9,000 people in attendance Obama earned the loudest ovations, most sustained applause, and when he was first introduced, near the beginning of the dinner, the auditorium hit its energy apex.

In the western reaches of the balcony Obama supporters filled the arena with timed back-and-forth chants of "fired up, ready to go." Iowa Independents Lynda Waddington has a post explaining the origins of the now-trademark Obama cheer.

Tommy Vietor, Obama's Iowa press secretary, said about 3,000 of the people in attendance were Obama supporters. Vietor was pushing the spin that the strong Obama showing is something of a warm-up to the actualy caucuses and shows his man has the right stuff organization-wise.

Some Obama supporters held county signs similar the state buoys national convention delegates hold. No telling how many of Obama's supporters were from Iowa, and how many came from neighboring Illinois, something U.S. Sen. Joe Biden joked about during his introduction when he welcomed both Iowans and Chicagoans to the JJ Dinner.

When Obama addressed the crowd, near the end of the night, he received some strong applause when he mentioned his experience in Chicago -- a clear sign that some had made the trip from the Windy City. But the applause was not overwhelming. Still it reminded me of the scene in the movie "The Great Escape" when an escaped British prisoner of war is tricked into revealing his disguise when a German uses a throwaway pleasantry, "Have a nice day," to get the POW to accidently slip into English and say "Thank you." The Obama campaign should have had its people remain silent during any reference to Chicago. Minor thing, though.

For the rest of the story go to my post at Iowa, where this originally appeared.

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