Sunday, September 16, 2007

Harkin Steak Fry: Obama Pre-Rally

Harkin Steak Fry: Obama Pre-Rally

Hillary seems to have gotten her team up the earliest and installed the most signs lining every highway into Indianola.  Many are between the sidewalk and the street - a no-no but all the campaigns seem to have done it.  It's just one day anyway.  Obama seems to be a close second, but Team Edwards has the most posts with actual cheering bodies.  Richardson has only a couple scattered signs.  The entrance to steak fry proper is lined with a cheering Hillary gauntlet.

I grab the press pass and hustle back across Highway 92 - there's significant traffic backup on the two-lane route -- for the Obama pre-rally.  I arrive to the tune of Van Halen's "Right Now," the staff must be unaware that Sammy Hagar is a notorious Republican.  (Everyone knows that REAL Van Halen is Diamond Dave Van Halen, anyway.)  The rest of the music is off the standard Obama pre-rally R&B Oldie CD: Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, "Shout" in apparently the Isley Brothers version. Disco one-hit wonders McFadden and Whitehead, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now."  Then live drum and bugle corps as speech time draws closer.

The intros start at straight up high noon.  They're discussing the logistics of golfcarting people back across the highway to the steak fry proper and giving props to the bird-doggers, um, I mean "community organizations."  Team Obama has a plan to stay here, practice some cheers, and enter the steak fry en mass.

The staffers say 3000 RSVPs and 2500 bodies expected -- didn't look like that many.

It's perfect fall day - sunny, slightly breezy, only a slight agricultural odor.  Only problem is my press passes keep twisting in the breeze and need untangling.  Journalist Choked By Lanyard, Film At 11. 

The Obama bling is moving quickly at the sale table at the gates.  60% or so of the crowd seems to be outfitted in the navy blue shirts with that rising sun log.  Do people other than Iowa politicos recognize that logo yet?

The stage has a small main platfrom and a long catwalk, with people up close to it.  Wonder if the Secret Service likes that.  Some of the mid-and-up level staffers have the little S-3 Secret Service tags, those precious political backstage passes.

12:38 and up pulls and SUV and up goes a cheer…they hand him the mic right as he walks out of the van to the minimalist Next POUS intro.

People shouting "I love you" and Obama saying "Love you back."  A real touch the hem of his garment moment.  Says speech'll be short - "I got all of you persuaded." 

"People are sick and tired of being sick and tired of Bush."  Change, new page in history, etc.  Now zooming in on the war.  Recites the litany of Bush policy; "It is time to get our troops home, restore our moral standing in the world."  "Take care of our own people," etc.  This is The Obama Stump Speech, compressed.  Like he said, as he hits the domestic policy bullet points, he's got these folks persuaded.

Not so veiled criticism -- don't settle for someone who's been in Washington a long time and can work with the lobbyists.

"I will always tell you where I stand, I will always tell you what I think.  I am reminded every day, if not by events than by my wife, that I am not a perfect man."  The cadence builds as he moves into the work hard, volunteer hard, inspire the troops rap.

He winds down with the oft-told story - says he's going to tell it again at Steak Fry Proper - that ends with the: "Fire it up, ready to go" chant.  About 12, 15 minutes of speech.  The chant rehearsah seems to go smoothly.

UPDATE: About two minutes after I post, they pull off the drill.  Obama, surrounded by the press scrum and the Secret Service, leads the line of troops chanting "I-O-W-A, Barack Obama all the way" right by the press filing shed.  Press are pushed back a notch so Obama can shake some young hands.  I catch up with Frank Best of Columbus City -- who helped me out years ago when I ran for the legislature.  He's on board with Obama: "I was for Edwards for four years, and I switched two weeks ago."

No comments: