Obama Loyalists Turn Out for Springfield Rally with Biden
By Perry Bacon, Jr
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Barack Obama was standing at the Old State Capitol again, but this time it was more than 70 degrees warmer, the crowd had 15,000 more people and there were two candidates, instead of just one.
A crowd the Obama campaign said numbered more than 30,000 thronged downtown Springfield this afternoon. Many brought folding chairs but most stood on surrounding streets, as Obama introduced his running mate Joe Biden. The crowd was full of devoted fans, many of whom said they had come out on a very cold morning in February 2007 to hear the Illinois senator first announce his presidential run. Some were already wearing Obama-Biden T-shirts, even if they knew little about the man who would be vice president.
"I think he's a good choice," said Mindy Kolaz, who attended Obama's Springfield rally in 2007.
Kolaz, who works for the state government, said "I'm not a Hillary fan" and noted Biden's experience, but said she didn't know much about him. Her excitement was still focused on the man at the top of the ticket. She said that she had not stayed up late in the night to get the text-message about the running mate, but had arrived four hours before Obama was scheduled to speak this afternoon to get a good seat.
"I'm glad he's back and it's even bigger this time," Kolaz said.
The Obama fans said they had noticed polls showing the race was getting closer, but remained confident he would win.
"We said at the beginning, it's going to be close," said Phil Salzer, a retired teacher who drove about more than an hour from Peoria for the event. "Biden's good, but I don't think people vote for whose on the bottom of the ticket."
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