Laconia, NH -
Greetings from the heart of the Lakes Region, where 3Q is coming to you live from Barack Obama's latest appearance in the Granite State. First let me tell you how good it feels to be back in the land of the Free (or the Dying). Relative to my other early-season campaign events from the last cycle (Edwards, Kerry & Clark) this one was much more of a big deal. Whereas, in early August of 2003, Edwards only drew about 30 people, at least 10 of which were homeless and only in attendance for the free hot dogs in downtown Manch-Vegas, today's speech brought together some 350 listeners by my rough estimation. Granted, Edwards was sitting in 4th or 5th place in the polls at that time to Obama's 2nd, I can't imagine an event for anyone other than Mike Gravel bringing so few people together this time around.
I have always been intrigued by the And1 Mixtape Tour that is a presidential campaign. Some of the highlights of Obama's music were sung by such bland Betties as Jack Johnson, recent-era DMB, Bono in a duet of One with some indeterminable woman, the full U2 for Beautiful Day, and best of all Higher Love by Steve Winwood (certainly the favorite) before entering to Think by Aretha, which was solid enough. Even as I write this, The Outfield's I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight is on the radio here at 3Q's Laconia HQ and it begs the question - why didn't he rock that? It's got the coffee shop moving right now. Bring it on!
Obama got started by acknowledging his massive fund raising haul and the great crowds he has been addressing at his urban stops around the country, attributing them not to his own charisma (which he poked fun at) but because of the American people "burning with desire for change." Of course, Barack positioned himself as the candidate who would lead that change. He moved from that to and address of his standard Dem platform, of which creating a national energy policy, getting out of Iraq, bringing people together, not taking PAC fundraising cash, and achieving universal health care garnered the loudest applause by far. He took questions, and in standard candidate fashion failed to answer them directly and instead sought to expand on his positions with a series of knowledgeable talking points. He scored the most when he chatted with an elderly woman about her youth and good looks, and spoke with a 5th grader like a concerned father, encouraging her to do her homework and turn off the TV. The latter received the loudest applause from your resident blogger.
Ultimately, it was a workday crowd of people who took time out of their day to see a candidate they were either supporting or highly interested in supporting. There were no hecklers, no major softballs, and it is too early in the summer for it to have the air of an important rally.
My biggest complaint was with Barack's handshake - a little too flabby for a hardy New Englander like myself. I might send him an e-mail about that. And now, give me leave for the White Mountains, those beefy gems of the Northeast. Three cheers for the Pemi, and until Marlow and Richardson on Thursday, keep your gameface on.