Behind the Scenes with Obama
So Ken, Dave, John and I went to see Obama last night. This was the clearest photo I got.
But this is my favorite, even though he looks kind of small. I think that’s one of the reasons I like it:
Gates opened at 7:30 p.m. When we got there an hour and fifteen minutes before, this many people were in line:
A total of 21,000 people showed up. We walked five blocks to get to the end of the line. Dave and Ken somehow got a few places ahead of us. Just as John and I got to our place in line, a woman came up asked if we had red tickets. We had passed the red ticket line earlier. It looked shorter. We said no, and she asked us if we wanted them. We nodded, so she told us to follow her.
As she led us up the stairs of the War Memorial (it’s the large monument in the background in the photo above) she told us her name was Lindsey and asked our names. When we got to a landing she gave us green wristbands instead of red tickets. She said, “You won’t need red tickets, but we’ll put you in that line anyway. And when you to get close to the front of it, put these on. Somebody at the gate will tell you what to do next.”
I assumed she would be able to give us more when she took us aside. I told her we came with another couple and asked if we could have two for Ken and Dave, too. She said she was sorry but they don’t go back and pull more from the same space because it creates crowd problems.
So we ended up totally abandoning Ken and Dave to get in a shorter line! I felt bad and tried to explain to them when Lindsey walked us back to the ground, but the train was already leaving the station.
As we walked she made small talk with us. When we got to the line, the last thing she said was, “Oh, you’ll probably be on camera so remember to smile and stay awake.”
When we finally got to the security gate a guy looked at our bands and pointed to a college aged kid. “Follow Tad. He’ll take you where you need to be.” As we neared the stage, Tad took us behind it. Turns out the green bands are for the folks who sit behind the candidate in the bleachers looking very enthusiastic about the candidate. I was immediately sorry I was not better dressed.
Lindsey saw us and waved, “Hey, it’s my guys. Good to see you.” I felt like we’d crossed the river Jordon.
Tad handed us off to Dan, who was sort of our handler. He had a really nice tan and very political hair. You can’t see the tan so much in the picture, but believe me, he’s golden.
So somebody pre-made signs for us: “Hoosiers for Obama,” “Unions for Obama,” “I Already Voted”, things like that. He asked who in the crowd wanted them and made sure they could hold the sign without lying.
One little kid kept raising his hand but Dan couldn’t see him. Finally the kid yelled, “But I’m Latino!” Talk about self-aware. It made the crowd laugh, but something about it seemed eerie to me. What was even more eerie was the woman, probably in her eighties, in front of me who when she heard what the kid said turned to me and laughed, “Ha-ha, there’s no such thing.” I have no idea what she meant.
Then Dan held up a “Republicans for Obama” sign. I thought it was a joke, but sure enough a woman raised her hand. Dan said, “You’re sure?” and she nodded yes so he gave her the sign.
Before too long Stevie Wonder performed a mini-concert (sorry, no good picture to show). Then Obama came out. He was what I’d come to expect, polished, earthy, well-spoken and very positive.
It was over around 11:00 p.m. John and I said goodbye to Dan and beat a path to White Castle. On the news I saw that after the rally Obama made another campaign stop at an East Side factory.
(Us in the bleachers. Notice every person behind us is on their cell phone.)