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For Obama, a Bright, Sunshiny Day

By Alec MacGillis
SUNRISE, Fla. -- At first, it seemed as if Barack Obama might just be speaking figuratively, as is his wont sometimes. "How's it going, Sunshine? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. It's good to be in Sunshine!" Obama declared on taking the stage this afternoon for a rally at the BankAtlantic Arena in Broward County, Fla., just west of Ft. Lauderdale.

Obama, who often comments admiringly on the climate and regional aura of his various destinations, may simply have been evoking the warmth of the Sunshine State, which he campaigned in for the first time this week after staying away for months to observe the Democratic Party's primary ban against the state. Or perhaps it was a term of endearment, similar to his recent (and later regretted) use of "sweetie" in speaking to a woman reporter.

But then he said it again, and again -- "When we are unified sunshine, nobody can stop us!" -- and it became clear: Obama thought he was in Sunshine, Fla. But he was not. He was in Sunrise, the name given to this particular swath of South Florida palm trees, bungalows and outlet stores.

If the 16,000 in attendance noticed, they didn't make it known. There was no dropoff in applause as Obama experienced recently when he opened a speech in Sioux Falls, S.D. by declaring, "Thank you, Sioux City!" before realizing that he had named the Iowa city by mistake. Perhaps the crowd here also thought the "Sunshine" might be a figurative reference, or perhaps there is simply less local possessiveness when it comes to a Sun Belt exurb with vaguely defined borders and an even more vaguely defined identity, especially given that many of those in attendance came from elsewhere in the county.

Perhaps Obama was thinking of one of the many songs that involve sunshine, or perhaps he was just hot and tired. It's been a busy week for him in Florida, and it's very warm and humid. More than 90 degrees. Too much sunshine.

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 23, 2008; 6:34 PM ET
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