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In Manassas, Obama's Last Hurrah

Barack Obama addresses the crowd in Manassas. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post).

By Joel Achenbach
Like human landscaping -- an artificial lake of humanity -- the Obama supporters filled a vast swale at the Prince William County Fairgrounds on Monday night. This was the last rally for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, just 22 months after his December 2006 visit to New Hampshire unofficially jump-started the 2008 contest.

There had been something like 75,000 people or more at Obama rallies in Portland and Denver and St. Louis, but this one might have been larger still. People began streaming in at 5 p.m. Traffic on Route 28 south, heading into Manassas, became glacial three hours before the official 9 p.m. start time. Backups on I-66 at exit 53 extended for several miles. Most people parked in shopping centers or neighborhoods and walked the last mile or so, past the button and T-shirt vendors and a guy blasting a rather cheesy Obama "theme song." Someone on stage threw out a crowd estimate of 80,000, and later Obama, perhaps with more experience estimating crowds than most Americans, offered up 100,000 ("...that's how you wind up with 100,000 people on a Monday night in November").

[No more than 99,995 were old enough to vote, because I had brought five 17-year-old high school seniors who were somewhere out in there in the mass of people, and who later told me they survived the long wait (three hours plus) for Obama by dancing in place. Music: Kanye West; U2; Earth, Wind and Fire. At that age they can dance even without externally produced music. The only hitch in the evening, they said, was that they were so far back in the crowd they were barely in same Zip code as the candidate. My eldest reports, "You could squint and make out a little figure. But you couldn't tell it was Obama."]

Obama took the stage about 90 minutes late. A great cloud of what appeared to be dust drifted from behind the bleachers and through the air near the stage. Someone said it was fog, like a theatrical effect. No: just dust, stirred up by some element of the motorcade or entourage.

The senator used a teleprompter, but by this point he could have delivered his signature lines blindfolded and upside down. His voice seemed to have a little extra animation when he said of campaigning, "You can keep your dignity, keep your decency, and still win."

He told the familiar story about how a short lady in a big church hat taught him the "Fired up! Ready to go!" chant. He's told the anecdote a million times but seemed to relish the tale anew, maybe because he wouldn't have to use it again for a while.

"Virginia, your votes can change the world!" he roared at the end.

Lingering amid the traveling press corps was Obama campaign mastermind David Axelrod. He was optimistic going into Election Day. He noted favorable reports coming out of the field offices, and the polling showing Obama with an advantage, and the voter registration figures skewing toward the Democrats. But he remained cautious:

"I feel good about it. But it's all theory until it happens."

By Washington Post editors  |  November 4, 2008; 9:02 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Final WaPo-ABC News Tracking Poll Shows Stable Obama Lead
Next: Biden Family's Flight Plan


For the last time, I am registered Independent, not Republcan. Wasn't McCain "gracious" enough in his concession speech? I would have kept my legal options open.

Posted by: JakeD | November 5, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

It is unfortunate that this campaign took the negative turn on the Republican side. Graciousness is not the forte of the republicans for the last 14 years. What Obama has done, if nothing else, has brought graciousness and dignity to an event that lost it over the past generation or two.
The comments made by JakeD and Saint are further examples of the current Republican response to dignity and to graciousness - Tear it down or sneer at it because they certainly cannot relate to it.
McCain went negative but not on policy or true issues like economy, security, healthcare. What he chose to do is to prop up old, stale, talking points with no substance then draw attention away with fantasy, innuendo, gossip and when that failed, let's try creating fear and pushing hate. He chose to use fear-mongering, saber-rattling and scam instead of honesty, intelligence and focus.
The "negative" by Obama in his campaign was focus on FACT - McCain voted 90% with Bush and crowed about it until the polls showed it was unpopular. McCain lied about Obama's tax plan trying to make a case for what used to be called "fuzzy math" by his mentor; McCain chose to manipulate his supporters with rants about "suspending his campaign" to work on the economic crisis but spent a better part of the time filming interviews and playing political games from his condo in DC. McCain chose Palin as a running mate without vetting and without thought as to what a VP is and the world he would leave us with if he won and he was incapacitated - a useless, uneducated and untested unprofessional who knows nothing about law, Constitution, position or even how to cross a street in a big city.
Obama stands in front of a crowd of 100,000 in Manassas, in Denver, in other cities. In SMALL COLLEGE TOWNS the numbers are 30,000;45,000;50,000.
THIS IS NOT any simple election. This is NOT the usual campaign. THIS IS a revolution. A peaceful, legal and legitimate Revolution and the MOVEMENT CRIES for a leader with dignity and that leader is OBAMA

Posted by: REALCosmicSurfer | November 4, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

One Last Audacious Hope- Poll Inaccuracy

Pollsters ponder racial bias among U.S. voters - and in their own polls
By Kate Zernike Published: October 12, 2008
International Herald Tribune

Three weeks to Election Day, and polls project a victory, possibly a big one, for Barack Obama.

Yet everywhere, anxious Democrats wring their hands. They have seen this Lucy-and-the-football routine before, and they are just waiting for their ball to be snatched away, the foiled Charlie Browns again. Remember how the exit polls in 2004 predicted President John Kerry?

The anxiety is more acute this year, because Obama is the first African-American major-party presidential nominee. And even pollsters say they cannot be sure how accurately polls capture people's feelings about race, or how forthcoming Americans are in talking about a black candidate.

In recent days, nervous Obama supporters have traded worry about a survey - widely disputed by pollsters yet voraciously consumed by the politically obsessed - that concluded racial bias would cost Obama six percentage points in the final outcome. He is, of course, about six points ahead in current polls. See? He's going to lose.

If he does, it would not be the first time that polls have overstated support for an African-American candidate. Since 1982, people have talked about the Bradley effect, where even last-minute polls predict a wide margin of victory, yet the black candidate goes on to lose, or win in a squeaker. (In the case that lent the phenomenon its name, Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles, lost his race for governor, the assumption being that voters lied to pollsters about their support for an African-American.)

Kohut conducted a study in 1997 looking at differences between people who readily agreed to be polled and those who agreed only after one or more call-backs. Reluctant participants were significantly more likely to have negative attitudes toward blacks - 15 percent said they had a "very favorable" attitude toward them, as opposed to 24 percent of the ready respondents. "The kinds of people suspicious of surveys are also more intolerant," Kohut said.

Posted by: thecannula | November 4, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

God Bless America. But then, He already has.

Republicans for Obama!

Posted by: Iconoblaster | November 4, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Take care with Florida counting ballots and Diebold counting machines in several states. Diebold's CEO is a higher Republican partisan
They stolen elections in 2000 and 2004 and may do it again. Repubs are crazy: they voted twice for Bush/Cheney... So, they can do anything to keep the status quo up.

Posted by: brazilianRio | November 4, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Just as McCain said, Barack Obama is a decent man and you do not have to fear him as president.

Cast your vote joyously and confidently for Barack and Joe, the vice president who have the educational background and innate sense of fairness to govern with statesman and competency.

Posted by: robertchoward | November 4, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

That's a great idea JakeD; can you pull your Sore Loserman poster out of the closet?

Posted by: adh11 | November 4, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

As promised, this posting is for our friends who didn't cross the finish line on election day - We are carrying their banners with us today. -
The late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Obama's Nevada state director Terence Tolbert and Barack Obama's grandmother Madely Dunham. They are still with us in spirit.

Somewhere over the rainbow (Video) for U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Terence Tolbert and Madely Dunham -

Posted by: cooday | November 4, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

As promised, this posting is for our friends who didn't cross the finish line on election day - We are carrying their banners with us today -
The late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Obama's Nevada state director Terence Tolbert and Barack Obama's grandmother Madely Dunham. They are still with us in spirit.

Somewhere over the rainbow (Video) for U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Terence Tolbert and Madely Dunham -

Posted by: cooday | November 4, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of today's results, McCain should keep ALL legal options open.

Posted by: JakeD | November 4, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

These people left a big mess on the highways and in front of the National Guard. It is a shame that they can not even clean there own mess up. SLOBS

Posted by: sclark4 | November 4, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Did Huckabee vote for Obama?

Was some early election results leaked accidently by diebold?

Posted by: pastor123 | November 4, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse


was he able to FEED them All;

with only a few Fish and Four Loaves of Bread?

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 4, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse


Another Obama buddy: Beyond audacity
Monday, November 3, 2008

Barack Obama's audacity is a grave concern for anyone troubled by the Wall Street meltdown.

Sen. Obama continues to support Penny Pritzker -- the disgraced billionaire hotel heiress who helped sink a major bank that used subprime mortgage machinations -- as she helps fund his crusade.

Ms. Pritzker is the finance chairwoman overseeing Obama's fundraising and a "bundler" who has pledged to personally raise between $200,000 and $500,000 for him. She has contributed nearly $500,000 to Democrat candidates and political action committees since 2000, reports The Washington Times.

Pritzker, among Forbes magazine's 2008 richest Americans with a net worth of $2 billion, had run Superior Bank until she became a board member of the parent company. The Treasury Department closed Superior and its 18 branches in 2001.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found the bank's failure "was directly attributable to the bank's board of directors and executives ignoring sound risk management principles." And that it "paid dividends and other financial benefits without regard to the deteriorating financial and operating condition of Superior."

In July, Obama said he and Pritzker "share certain core values about how to run organizations, and hopefully that will inform how we manage the government."

Barack Obama must be taken at his word.

Posted by: thecannula | November 4, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

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