Obama for America Staff Ball Right Now Featuring Jay-Z
It's a good day to be an Obama staffer. After a long campaign and transition, about 10,000 staff have been invited to the D.C. Amory for a private party featuring rap superstar Jay-Z. The event, called the Obama for America Staff Ball, is closed to the media, so Inauguration Watch isn't there, but our spies tell us the mood is festive, even though some of these staffers are reportedly among those who didn't make it into the swearing-in ceremony yesterday despite having tickets. Warmup band Arcade Fire is on stage now. More details to come, including whether there is a Beyonce sighting.
Joe and Jill Biden take the stage at about 8:30 p.m. to thank the volunteers, saying that "the gift we all received exceeded the sacrifices we all made."
Update 9:22 p.m.: Actor Kal Penn ("Harold & Kumar") introduced campaign manager David Plouffe, who introduced Obama. "Just for tonight, revel in what you did," Plouffe told them, according to an official pool report. "You changed the course of history." Chants of "Plouffe! Plouffe!" break out, but he interrupts to ask for a doctor for someone up front. The person turns out to be okay.
Obama talked for 17 minutes, reports our source, thanking the staffers and saying they didn't listen to the nay-sayers. He also made a joke about how young the crowd was, sounding almost incredulous. "Look at you. You guys are so young. Maybe it's because so many of you are so young, or young at heart, that you couldn't imagine what hadn't been done before. You didn't know any better when people said I couldn't win. Yes, we can!" Obama said, according to the pool report. He also quipped: "You guys dress a lot sharper than you did in Iowa." The crowd responded to Obama with a sustained ovation. Up next Jay-Z, who apparently has come with Beyonce and Memphis Bleek.
At about 9:35, Jay-Z takes the stage, opening with, "If you voted for the 44th president, put your hands up now! If you are proud to be an American, put your hands up now!" then launching into his set. After a few songs, Jay-Z puts a picture of former President Bush on a screen and leads a chant of the "na na goodbye" song. The songs continue, and eventually Memphis Bleek joins him on stage. No Beyonce. Jay-Z leads a final few chants of "O-ba-ma!" the entire place chanting in unison and doing the Roc symbol. "The place is going bananas," source says.
Around 10:20 p.m., the show ends.
David A Nakamura
January 21, 2009; 8:10 PM ET
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