The Senator enjoyed a warm welcome from thousands of supporters crowded into the park. The energy of expectation was evident as long lines waited get through security. Every two seconds I was handed a flyer about something predictably kooky. Opening acts included an acoustic set from The North, students from the outer boroughs read letters written to the candidate, and actor Jeffrey Wright of Syriana and Basquiat introduced local politicians who had endorsed Obama.
It was a lovely evening. The ever helpful and talented Mr. Patrick Waldo and I shot this video.
Under the arch that marks the beginning of 5th avenue (When Harry Met Sally, anyone? Obama stumped on education, social security reform, other candidates and riled fans with his proclamation that America is "sick and tired of being sick and tired." If the mostly young crowd noticed the Illinois Senator had cribbed a line from Monty Python, no one took issue. Every pause in the lengthy speech seemed to get whoops and hollers, particularly those which promised a presidency of "hope and reason and tolerance instead of fear and conflict and division."
Referring to his major competitor as "the Senator from New York," Obama took aim at claims of inexperienced,an argument that he says left him "confused":
"Because, the fact of the matter is, there are those in this race for the presidency who are counting their experience working the senate… Not working for us. There are those who think that who you should be looking for is someone who knows how to play the game better. But the problem is that the game is rigged."
The Senator from Illinois also aimed at Sen. Clinton by referencing her pro-war vote, "I have the experience of speaking out, even when its not comofortable, like I did in 2002 before the war started and when I stood up and said 'This war is a bad idea.'"
Calling himself a "hope mongerer," Obama seemed comfortable in front of the large crowd, managing the required microphone gaffe well, and fit in more references to his wife Michelle's now famous ribbing. As the square darkened, the candidate grinned and concluded with "Let's go change the world."
My favorite part would be the end, where he comes damn near close to plum dropping the mike and stalking off stage. "Let's go change the world" seems like a pretty badass signature.
(PPS: Second favorite would be the awedome rhyming skillz of rapper "Jinn")