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Scenes from the JJ Dinner

Post staff writers Tim Craig, Anita Kumar and Sandhya Somashekhar attend the annual Jefferson Jackson Day dinner and sent along some of their observations, sightings and tidbits.

10:30 p.m.

Va. Gov. Timothy Kaine, who endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in February of 2007, introduced the Democratic senator from Illinois. Obama said, "And today, voters from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America stood up to say that it is time to turn the page. We won Louisiana, and Nebraska, and the state of Washington, and I believe that we can win in Virginia on Tuesday if you're ready to stand for change." Read a transcript of Obama's prepared remarks.

Barack Obama states his case for the democratic nomination at the Jefferson Jackson dinner Saturday night in Richmond, Va.

9:50 p.m.

Mark Warner's wife, Lisa Collis, introduced the former governor of Virginia. Warner is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. John Warner (R). Read a transcript of Warner's prepared remarks.

9:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton makes an impassioned plea to Virginia democrats at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Richmond, Va.

8:30 p.m.

(By Sandhya H. Somashekhar -- The Washington Post)

Obama won - the sign war anyway.

At the Jefferson-Jackson dinner at the Siegel Center, Obama signs far outnumbered Clinton ones. The most obvious example were the huge silver letters that spelled out "OBAMA" on both sides of the dinner section.

It wasn't bias, Democratic party officials said. Each camp had free reign this morning to put up whatever signs they wanted. Obama's apparently had a little more zeal for placards.

--Sandhya Somashekhar

7:30 p.m.

Virginia's Democratic elite - Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and former governors Mark Warner and L. Douglas Wilder - held a press conference while guests dined on steak and salmon. Only U.S. Sen. Jim Webb was missing.

Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) was at the Jefferson Jackson dinner. (By Sandhya H. Somashekhar -- The Washington Post)

"It's a new day for the Democratic party," Kaine said.

The room was adorned with blue and white Mark Warner signs on one wall and red, blue and white Obama signs that say "Change We Can Believe In" and "Stand for Change."

"I think we've shown that we know how to win and we know how to govern," said Warner, the likely Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate this year.

Kaine and Wilder endorsed Obama but Warner has declined to support anyone. He said tonight he was focused on his own race and he would campaign with either Clinton or Obama.

The three governors talked about the momentum in the race and how excited they were that Virginia was playing such an instrumental role in the presidential race.

"Nothing has been like this campaign in America and we are part of the venue," said Wilder, now the mayor of Richmond.

--Anita Kumar

6:45 p.m.

(By Sandhya H. Somashekhar -- The Washington Post)

Tonight's menu: 3,500 people paid for dinner. They are sitting at tables on the floor of the Siegel Center, which is the Virginia Commonwealth basketball arena. They are eating sirloin steak and pan seared tuna, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and green beans and classic cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

In the bleachers above the floor, another 2,500 people will be seated, each supporting their candidate. They do not eat.

--Tim Craig

6:25 p.m.

At a VIP reception, Hillary Clinton supporters reflected on the sea of Obama posters, t-shirts and pins around the Siegel Center.

"The Hillary people got a late start," lamented Charlene Bickford, 63, of Arlington, wearing a pin with the former first lady. "I'm kicking myself at this point that we didn't do enough organizing early on."

Ronald Cline Jr. a teacher from Louisa County, said he felt it was less evidence of a groundswell for Obama and more a function of the venue.

"This is a college, and young people are for Obama," said Cline, 37.

--Sandhya Somashekhar

6:15 p.m. inside the hall.

Before the dinner officially began, guests mingled at four receptions. The largest was held in one of the center's gyms where hundreds of people sipped on beer and wine.

Tony Mastalski of Fredericksburg said the crowd at this year's dinner was twice as large as last year when the speakers included Kaine, Warner, Webb and Obama. Mastalski, who helped draft Webb for US Senate two years ago, is supporting Obama.

"Simply, I think he exihibits leadership," he said. "I vote for leadership."

--Anita Kumar

5:35 p.m.

Supporters of the candidates spilled out onto Broad Street, one of Richmond's major throughfares. Cars honked their horns at supporters. Police officers on bikes watched over the crowds and traffic.

Vendors wandered through the crowd selling Clinton and Obama T-shirts and buttons.

(By Sandhya H. Somashekhar -- The Washington Post)

Huge speakers in front of the center blared music including Dolly Parton and Bruce Springsteen songs.

Next door to the convention center, the Subway sandwich shop was enjoying a brisk businesses as JJ dinner guests stopped for a bite before heading into long security lines. Some guests were wearing business suits and evening dresses while other were wearing jeans and flip flops in the unusually warm weather. Almost everyone was wearing a sticker or a button.

Off to the side, separate from the others, was a group of Mark Warner supporters chanting "Warner" and carrying blue and white signs for the U.S. Senate candidate.

Anderson Sharp traveled from Lynchburg to take part in the festivities outside the center. "We're supporting our girl," Sharp said, waving a Clinton sign. Though she was outnumbered by the Obama supporters, Sharp said she was savoring being part of one of closest contests for the Democratic nomination in decades.

"It isn't the numbers, it's the power behind it," Sharp said.

Charlotte Grier, 48, showed up outside the Siegel Center with her dog, who was wearing a "Team Hillary" sweater.

"It's good to see so many people out supporting the Democratic Party," Grier said. "I've always voted Republican. I'm very excited to vote Democratic this year."

Kristen Smith, 19, of Virginia Beach and Lauren Lauderdale, 21, of Falls Church, were also part of Clinton's rally squad. But Smith and Lauderdale said they actually planned to vote for Obama Tuesday.

"I'm ready for change," said Smith, as she waved her Clinton sign. "Hillary just gave us tickets, but we're for Obama. We're students so we don't have a lot of money to pay our way in." Lauderdale then said, "Yeah, let's put our signs down."

---Anita Kumar and Tim Craig

5:20 p.m.

Hundreds of rowdy Clinton and Obama supporters held dueling impromptu marches in the street in front of the Stuart C. Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The Clinton supporters were outnumbered but still vocal chanting "Hillary" and "Ready to Lead" while waving blue signs and wearing stickers.

(By Sandhya H. Somashekhar -- The Washington Post)

"She's been there," said Carol Cross, who drove down from 0akton. "She's been working it since she got of Yale."
Cross and two friends have been volunteering making calls at Clinton's Arlington headquarters for two months.

Just down the street, Obama supporters banged on drums and chanted "O-bama" and "Yes, we can."

Virginia and Ray Scher of Caroline County were supporting former Sen. John Edwards but switched to 0bama when Edwards dropped out. The couple said they did so because 0bama seemed the best candidate to carry on Edward's message of helping the poor. "We're hopeful the country will have more economic equality between people," said Virginia Scher in between chants.

"Virginia is Obama country," said Hugh Hart, a political science major at VCU who was carrying a megaphone to tell the crowd "This Tuesday Barack Obama will win Virginia and then he will win the country."

Nearby, Tempral Newbill, a bartender from Roanoke wearing an evening gown, watched the two groups of supporters. She was a supporter of Edwards until he dropped out of the race and now is undecided. "I'm here to hear something to sway me tonight." She is most interested in learning their stances on healthcare and economic fairness.
--Anita Kumar

5 p.m.

Dozens of supporters gathered at a suite on the 17th floor of the Marriott Hotel at a fundraising reception for congressional candidate Leslie L. Byrne (D) of Fairfax

They snacked on cheese and crackers, chocolate chip cookies and M&Ms while sipping beer and wine.

Byrne, wearing a black pantsuit, vowed to work for universal healthcare and economic justice. "We're going to undo in Congress what Bush has done,'' she said to applause.

Guests include state Sen. Chap Petersen, who ran against Byrne in 2005, state Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond), chairman of the Democratic party in Fairfax County and a diverse crowd of young and old from around the state include southside Virginia.

"She's a great gal," said Suzette Matthews, former chairwoman of the Fauquier County Democratic party. "She has a lot of experience...she's family to us."

The Marriott served as a makeshift JJ headquarters. Candidates for Congress set up tables in the lobby to speak to potential supporters and hand out campaign literature. Almost everyone in the elevators and milling around the hotel had a sticker supporting Clinton, Obama or U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner. Lines of people waited to board black vans to head down Broad Street to the center. Police escorted hundreds of protestors down the street past the hotel calling for fair reform of the nation's immigration laws.
--Anita Kumar

4 p.m.

(By Sandhya H. Somashekhar -- The Washington Post)

More than 300 jubilant Obama supporters have gathered three blocks north of the Siegel Center getting ready to parade their support for the Illinois senator through the streets of Richmond.

The group, which spans both sides of one of Richmond's busiest streets, will be led by a marching band. Some members of the group are carrying 10-foot high O-B-A-M-A signs. And judging from the continuos honks from passing cars, Obama could be in for a good day Tuesday among Richmond voters.

The crowd is chanting "O-BAMA - O-BAMA." And "yes we can."

Earlier, the Hillary Clinton "visibility rally" outside the Siegal Center got off to a bad start. A rental truck carrying the campaign signs struck a BMW driven by an Obama supporter, causing considerable damage.

"This just makes us even stronger Obama supporters," said Rich Garries of Hampton Roads, as he looked at his car.

----Tim Craig

Evening Recap


By Steve Fehr  |  February 9, 2008; 3:33 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2008/President  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Del. Phillips Endorses Clinton
Next: Jim Moran to Endorse Obama Today


I was hoping to see the J&J dinner activities. Is it over?
(No, it ends late tonight. Obama is speaking at 10:30 p.m. EST. Try tuning to c-span)

Posted by: Iowatreasures | February 9, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton says that if she passes her health care plan, it will include provisions to garnish workers' wages.

Such confiscatory language shows she has not learned anything from the fight during the 1990s on health care, and how the Democrats will again lose the battle and probably the White House if she is leading the Party.

Experience is all well and good, but one should learn from it.

Clearly Sen. Clinton has not.


Posted by: MARTIN EDWIN ANDERSEN | February 9, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Barack Hussein Obama... Out of the clouds, into the light with more clarity, focuses on Presidential run.

Just say NO to Obama (and drugs - specifically Obama youth supporters)!

"Dreams From My Father"
Mr. Obama's account of his younger self and drugs, though, significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use. That could suggest he was so private about his usage that few people were aware of it, that the memories of those who knew him decades ago are fuzzy or rosier out of a desire to protect him, or that he added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic.

Posted by: Prakaithip | February 9, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that picture of "U.S. Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia's 8th District" actually his brother, Del. Brian Moran of Alexandria?

Posted by: bobschot | February 9, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Thank you bobschot. You are correct.

Posted by: | February 9, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Those of us able to recall campaigns in which people sang "Happy Days Are Here Again" will
be impressed by the emotions evoked by this contest----perhaps Senator Obama is right
in insisting that his candidacy reflects a social movement. In any event, a lot of Virginians had some authentic and self generated fun....good luck to the citizens on Tuesday, if they turn out, in the end no one will loose.

Posted by: norman birnbaum | February 9, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

HillaryCare is dead on arrival in Congress should she become the President (unlikely). VOTE OBAMA!

Posted by: meldupree | February 9, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Words and a so called promise of hope does not run a country. Obama does not have the exexcutive skills...he has openly admitted he is an unorganized and unstructure administrator. Hillary's Healthcare plan does not have any provisions to garnish wages. Obama is lying. Oh God, what is new there.

I do not want a President who is afraid to take a stand on the tough issues. 140 present votes is not bringing hope....its being a chicken!!!

Obama buys his home and extra land for less than 1/2 price.........I wish I could have bought my home at 1/2 price from a man named Rezko.....who is now under federal arrest and in jail awaiting trail.

Obama has not been honest about his past. Do we want another President who snorts coke?????? Whether past or present.

We have had seven years already of a man who spoke kind words in the beginning and then could not find his way out the door.

Why do we want a repeat of an untried and inexperienced man??? I don't......

Save this country and vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

Posted by: Linda R. - Woodbridge, VA | February 10, 2008 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Where is the link to Hillary's remarks?

How bias is the Virginia democratic party getting these days??? Very bias.....

I have received several phones from party leaders in Prince William County telling me I have to vote for Obama if I want to remain a member of the Prince William Democrats.

My vote is my one tells me who to vote for.......


Posted by: Pissed off Dem | February 10, 2008 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: SoldiersMom | February 10, 2008 2:00 AM | Report abuse

I like Obama. I also used pot, coke, lsd... and I'm not kidding. Mushrooms, hashish, opium.

Of course, the worst, by far was alcohol, which is pushed on us. It's inescapable. It's the hidden, unspoken lure to such events as: Happy Hour or 'let's go dancing!'

Dancing you can do at home. It's all about drinking alcohol, which is MUCH more destructive than pot or coke.

So, hypocrites, reaching for any Clintonesque weakness, unless you've never had a beer, or a glass of wine, Shut It!

I bet my man Obama at least had the sense to smoke it correctly... or the sense not to parse the meaning of 'smoke' to say he didn't actually ingest or 'inhale' it.



You people are pathetic and sheltered if you think that means squat to any of my pot smoking, beer guzzling, exstacy dropping generation!

Posted by: I like Obama | February 10, 2008 5:29 AM | Report abuse

Linda R

Posted by: Sucks | February 10, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Dear Prakaithip:
Ref: Your email on Barack Obama's writing that he experimented w/ drugs as a teenager.

Well, here we have a choice of an honest man who said he made a terrible mistake versus a women who said she "lost," important evidence in a legal case against her. C'mon, yes she's been vetted and the Republicans will continue to vet her until they defeat her.

Robert P. Koontz
Major, USMCR (Retired)

Posted by: Robert P. Koontz | February 10, 2008 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Here is a link to an article in time magazine (only one of the various sources) reporting Hillary saying that she will seek a mandate to garner wages,8599,1709472,00.html

If this is the plan Hillary has, you can imagine why most people find her polarizing and divisive and why she failed to get a healthcare plan paseed the first time and why she will fail the second time. She doens't have leadership skills or vision.

As for experience...the one vote she needed to get right, the one vote that is costing this nation 760 million dollars a day! Money that could pay for health insurance, she got Wrong! Obama stood against the war whhe it was unpopular. He has the courage we need.

I am posting articles that have appeared in the New York Times (which endorsed Hillary) that make the case better than I can, why only Obama can win the election in November.


Posted by: patriot | February 10, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I love Hillary, what a great speech. She will help us build a strong country for our children to grow up in, she is such a great role model for my 9 yr old grandaughter. She will be the greatest president ever, an age of wonder and joy, i can't wait. Green energy, solar panels, that's the stuff the future is made of.... not Obama's support for nuclear power, waste and increase in cancer, no way man.

Posted by: organicgirl | February 10, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

If I can remember Bill Clinton use pot at one time. Bush did too. Why no one brought that up? Once Prakaithip mention Hussein I knew what he was emplying at that Barack is muslim. Prakaithip is fear monger,cynic and racist.

Posted by: bigben1986 | February 10, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

How can anyone vote for or get excited about two canadiates who what to reward twenty million Illegal Aliens with citenship and create generations of welfare for all of us to pay - Stupid is as Stupid does I guess !

Posted by: bill | February 10, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Let's not forget HIllary's tortured response to why she voted to authorize the war in Iraq, or that she voted for No Child Left Behind, or that she says she represents "change" from the old Washington ways but happily accepts money for her campaign from lobbyists and PACS. Clinton doesn't represent any change from the old Washington politicking, and her electability is a serious question. Republicans may be dispirited by their candidates, but the one thing that will galvanize them is running against a Clinton. And we will lose all the Independents to McCain in such a scenario, whereas there is much more cross-over appeal if Obama is the Democratic nominee. BARACK THE VOTE ON TUESDAY FELLOW VIRGINIANS!

Posted by: Audrey | February 10, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I give up. Who is Obama? This man gives speeches but never defines himself - he is all speech and no specifics. Young voters follow this Pied Piper like "change" is some new political mantra. It's as old as the hills. We need adults to get into gear and not let this guy railroad our country into who knows where. He has lots of masks but doesn't answer questions with details and specifics. He never gets off his "stage" and TOTALLY avoids Q&As with the American people. Very dangerous, blind trust is being placed in this masked man.

Posted by: rak811 | February 10, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Obama is a godsend.

Posted by: FirstMouse | February 10, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Obama is a demogod. People are starting to wake up.

As far as drug use goes:

"Mom, the president snorted cocaine, why can't I"

isn't going to cut it.

Unless you want to legalize drugs, that is.

Somehow, I doubt that's going to win a national election...

Posted by: svreader | February 10, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

When you have big money you don't need 'change' When all you have is 'change' vote Democrat. McCain will not be more of the 'same' he will be worse than the 'same' Having survived one war he is now a rabid warmonger.

Posted by: Ben Scharf | February 10, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Informed voters research the candidates on their own using verified sources. I read what others have to say and then do the research.

Information on Obama is on his website plus any comments people want to make. Clinton screens others' words on her site, plus she has all of these walls around her.

Obama will present his ideas clearly when he takes on the REP candidate. Be assured that this ex 40 yr REP, now DEM will vote and do everything to get the best candidate elected. Obama 08 YES WE CAN and we will! The people will speak!

Posted by: Ann | February 11, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

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