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Empty Seats Greet Obama at the Meadowlands

Updated 12:35 p.m.
By Alec MacGillis
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's a rare sight for those following Barack Obama on the campaign trail: empty seats.

Obama is about to appear here at the Izod Arena (home of the New Jersey Nets) and there are, by this reporter's estimate, only a few thousand people here -- far, far fewer than Obama has been drawing elsewhere, including in places far less populated than North Jersey. He drew 18,000 in Denver, 13,000 in Phoenix, 20,000 in St. Louis, 13,000 in Boise, Idaho, and 20,000 in Wilmington, Del.

Obama has been rising in the polls in New Jersey, which had been considered solid territory for the senator from neighboring New York, Hillary Clinton. Could the poor turnout be a sign of how much ground he still has to make up here? Or is just a sign of how much people dislike coming to the Meadowlands, the unsightly sports complex marooned among interstates and swampland? (Not to mention that it is the middle of a workday, that the event was booked just yesterday and that a fair share of New Jerseyans are likely nursing Super Bowl hangovers after celebrating their Giants' victory last night.)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, an Obama supporter, argued that the Obama surge in New Jersey was for real, comparing his move against Clinton to the Giants' shocker over of the Patriots. "We have the big mo. It's like a freight train coming. We can do it in the state of New Jersey, and it would be just one of the most incredible upsets."

Had more people made the trip, they would have gotten a bonus: a glimpse of Robert De Niro, who just took the stage for a surprise endorsement. In his characteristic sardonic tone, he mocked the notion that Obama is not experienced enough for the presidency. He noted Obama's early opposition to the war in Iraq, comparing it to the pro-war votes of more veteran pols, and said, "That's the kind of inexperience I can get used to. That's the kind of inexperience our country deserves."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 4, 2008; 12:25 PM ET
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Its seems that this nation is in such a state that followers have no quality leaders to follow anymore. After listening to a biased Media, reading the horrific comments on postings & blogs, for Obama I have alot of questions on his affiliates. Remember we knew very little about what was going on before 911 and it has gone down hill since. Infiltration presents itself silently and then we get the wake up call. What do we really know about this canidate and are we willing to believe with his smooth talking that is what we really need to rebuild this country. With all the people in this nation you can't tell me that the canidates that have been presented to us are our best choices. calkizme

Posted by: calkizme | February 27, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Why all the negativity? Those who complain about Obama are probably the ones who voted for George Bush. No one wants to own up to it. That's why the Republican and Democrat mantra is "change".

Posted by: alvin12 | February 5, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

angel01 - I am originally from Illinois and although I'm a republican, I have utmost respect for Obama's service to Illinois politics. You claim that he did nothing for Illinois in the 10 years he was in the state legislature. That is a pretty ignorant statement. Obama sponsored a state bill that provided discount prescriptions to seniors such as my grandmother. He also passed many ethics reform bills, promoted legislation for gays, lower class, and middle class workers, and eliminated 300 million dollars of tax cuts for businesses. I recommend that you do some more research. As far as the NY Times article, the NY Times is probably the most biased paper in the nation. If you do some fact checking, you'll find their report to be skewed. This is not surprising since the NY Times endorsed Hillary Clinton and will say anything to make sure she wins (so that they can be right).

Posted by: trainpaws | February 5, 2008 2:55 AM | Report abuse

umm. you folks want to update this article? NYT mentioned that the crowd increased pretty dramatically over the course of the event. That might be a responsible thing to report, no?

Posted by: scotevan | February 4, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

zukermand, tell me what to be ashamed of???

Posted by: lxweb | February 4, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

lxweb, I do hope that if I ever type something like that, I'll have the decency to feel ashamed.

Posted by: zukermand | February 4, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Hillary cried again, at Yale this time. Tears must work magically for girls!

Posted by: lxweb | February 4, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I guess Obama campaign didn't get the word out about the rally as the event was "booked just yesterday." They must realize just now they can really threaten Hillary's lead in her backyard or at least keep the margin small. I was watching ABC last night, which had more than 20 minutes on Giants' win , but nothing about Obama coming to NJ.

Posted by: lxweb | February 4, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking Obama is for 'CHANGE'. But then realized that he is only 'talk ' talk' 'talk.

What did he change in last 10 years in Chicago Politics? Nothing. He is same as other politicians. False Promises and LIE

Why did he lie in IOWA about the bill? Obama said he just issued a bill on Nuclear leakage while that bill is no where near issuing.
In fact he could not hold himself against EXelon and succumbed to the pressure and changed the bill to take out all meat out of it.

How would anyone believe him unless they are naive?

please check out, I was shocked.

Posted by: angel01 | February 4, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

??I'm concerned about the rapidly declining economy and I'll go with the candidate who has someone on her team that knows how to fix it. Bill Clinton.
Posted by: brigittepj | February 4, 2008 02:07 PM ??

Someone should tell brigitteph that Mr. Bill is NOT running for president!

Posted by: lvdragonlady | February 4, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

be careful what you ask for. Senator Obama's another John Kerry/Al Gore. Lofty Ideals and no substance. He is not ready to take on the Republican smear machine , that good ole John McCain will gladly use. "Staying above the fray" is a receipe for disaster this Fall

Posted by: nojob22 | February 4, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

So only a few thousand people get to see Obama's empty rhetoric. What a shame.

Obama is a big phoney, no different than any old politician. Only difference is that in this campaign he tells his lies better and for some reason the media has been reluctant to review his message critically.

In fact, for all his talk of being a new kind of politician, he is the only one out there is consistently lying to win votes.

Telling voters he passed a bill standing up to nuclear power interests, when in fact, he watered down the bill to make it toothless... and still never passed it.

Telling people that everyone who can afford health insurance will definitely buy it and that, even though his plans leaves millions uninsured, we don't need to worry about those people getting emergency room service at the expense of taxpayers, or spreading communicable diseases unchecked.

Telling people that illegal immigrants should have driver's licenses to cut down on hit-and-run accidents. Like someone in the country illegally is going to stick around and give a police report.

Posted by: ghokee | February 4, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Hello, it's Monday, it's a work day. Democrats gotta go to work!

Posted by: NoMugwump | February 4, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The folks just did not show up. There is no need to make an excuse. He is a politician just like all the others, but he has a great speaking voice. He expected to have won the nomination already.

Some folks say he is not ambitious, but all politicians are. If he weren't very ambitious, he would have at least serve a complete term in the Senate. I will vote for anyone who receives the Democratic nomination, but i would prefer if HRC won.

Posted by: LadyEagle | February 4, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The Hillary event was meant to be small so she could actually talk with and not at people. She also took questions from the crowd which is something St Obama has been doing less and less of.

Posted by: ericr1970 | February 4, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Mr. DeNiro, in praising Mr. Obama's early resistance to the war has noted that he has done nothing to try and bring the troops home, and keeps voting to fund the troops exactly the same as Mrs. Clinton? Now if Mr. Obama had voted against every funding bill then that is something he could show contrast on his Iraq stance but empty rhetoric of what he thought before even entering the Senate means nothing in contrast to his pro war voting since.

Posted by: justmyvoice | February 4, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The discourse from the young liberal left will push me to vote for McCain this fall.

Posted by: thomas.destefano | February 4, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

This really is kind of a silly post. No one is showing up, but oh yeah, they just announced the event yesterday. And, oh yeah, the venue seats 20,000 people. And, oh yeah, people are working and have hangovers. Please.
Plus, there is no need to bust on the Meadowlands. Plenty of people go there for basketball games (and hockey, before moving to Newark) and football games for both the Jets and Giants. It really has nothing to do with anything.

Posted by: alyssa1 | February 4, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Guess his strategy of busing in fans from other states to make the crowds bigger(like he did in Minnesota) didn't work in NY/NJ.

Posted by: joep1 | February 4, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse


All the senior citizen, baby-boom dinasaurs are running scared... They're all afraid we don't buy their straw-man enemy arguments.. and they are right!



Posted by: onestring | February 4, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, let's just hope this is a sign that people are finally getting Obama fatigue. I for one certainly am. In spite of all their efforts, the media, Oprah, nor Ted Kennedy will choose my candidate for me.

I'm concerned about the rapidly declining economy and I'll go with the candidate who has someone on her team that knows how to fix it. Bill Clinton.

Posted by: brigittepj | February 4, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

This report would have almost qualified as actual journalism IF it had stated how many empty seats the Meadowlands has to fill.

(It does in fact seat 20,000 people so "empty seats", in and of itself, is a completely meaningless measure of ANYTHING.)

Posted by: miraclestudies | February 4, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a nasty piece of work.
His "harry and louise" ads... hell, even the gop didn't run ads as sick as that,
his "annoint me, or I'll tell my supporters not to vote"

his arrogance is astonding and showing to many more people

Posted by: newagent99 | February 4, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Relax, Obama supporters, it's a typically meaningless piece of "political reporting" from the crowd of Heathers at known as the Washington Post Political Staff. It's only here for them to point to in defense of charges they "only write negatively of Sen Clinton". Don't worry, this one will fill that quota for the duration of Super Tuesday.

Posted by: zukermand | February 4, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Post Super Bowl effect.

Posted by: zbob99 | February 4, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I just read that almost 100 people showed up for Hillary at Yale University. Wow- almost 100, and here in NJ a few THOUSAND for Barack Obama. My guess is that people are at work, and have already decided to vote for Obama tomorrow......

Posted by: katharinestavrinou | February 4, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Always the negativity. The Giants just pulled the biggest upset in football history. Half the folks in New Jersey and NY are suffering from hang overs!

Posted by: NMP1 | February 4, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Thats not what I see.. Watch it live and think for yourself.. Keep your pro Clinton bias to yourself

Posted by: TennGurl | February 4, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

you couldn't pay me to see this propaganda firsthand.

Posted by: trisha2 | February 4, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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