CA-GOV: Now THAT Was A Rally
Today I joined what had to be at least 3,000 people (I'm terrible at judges these things, but it was a mob) to see most of the Democratic statewide ticket, Antonio Villaraigosa, Sen. Barack Obama and Phil Angelides at a rally on the campus of USC. Here are some impressions, I'll have some really bad pictures (I was pretty far back) as well.
• This is what you imagine a classic political rally to be. A band, a giant podium with red, white and blue balloons, a huge bank of TV cameras, a picture-perfect backdrop under a bright sun, energy and excitement. It felt different, in no small part due to the presence of Sen. Obama. Now, I have my own opinions of him, but without a doubt he engages and energizes young people and instructs them on the importance of the political sphere. That is priceless, particularly in this campaign.
• CDP chair Art Torres emceed the event, and first he introduced a couple USC students, one to sing the national anthem, the other to make remarks.
• Each of the CA Democratic ticket who attended made some remarks. John Garamendi was very fired-up, John Chiang talked about unity and the Democratic wave "from sea to shining sea," and the great Debra Bowen quipped that she was in her Secretary of State race for two reasons, Ohio and Florida.
• Controller Steve Westly managed the double-whammy of getting the date of the election wrong (he said November 9) AND the number of days left until the election (9).
• Fabian Nuñez, who managed to get off the infrastructure bonds trail, talked fairly impressively about Iraq, Katrina, corporate rule and the need for Democrats to come together.
• LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who made it just in time after his two-and-a-half week trip to Asia in the middle of the election ended (I'm not bitter), gave a speech about rejecting the idea that Democrat-lite is the way to win, and how we need to speak our principles and be proud Democrats. He actually offered a lot of substantive reasons to support Phil, particularly regarding education (we were at USC) and expanding the California dream for middle-class families. The most important thing he said: "Rallies are nice, but today is about making sure we do everything we can, knocking on doors, making phone calls, getting our friends out to the polls." Blogs are nice, too, but he's right, GOTV is more important.
• Angelides and Obama came out together to wild applause. Angelides' speech was fairly standard but delivered with passion. He touched on a variety of issues, which I actually think is a good thing, it's a big state and we have a lot of problems and we need a governor who can think about more than one thing per day. I thought his rhetoric on education, that if we can send young men and women to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can deliver them a world-class education and help them to achieve that, was effective. This speech was about belief, passion and principle, and all of the themes could be distilled in this simple difference between the candidates: who do you trust?
• Angelides closed with a story I hadn't heard, about visiting inner-cirty high schools in Oakland and having kids ask him "how do I get a break?" That's what he's fighting for.
• As for Obama, he basically gave his Presidential stump speech, but tried to connect it to Phil Angelides. Actually, both of them talk about the same things, expanding opportunity, the belief that we are all connected and have a stake in each other's lives, the idea of hope that is crucial to fighting special interest money which historically keeps people's interests secondary. He also name-checked Prop. 87, which he apparently endorsed at a rally earlier in the day. Obama ended with the famous Martin Luther King quote I've often used in conversation, that the long arc of history bends toward justice. But, he said that doesn't happen automatically. It takes everyone working hard to push that arc downward, to ensure that justice prevails.
Here are some pics.
Barack Obama and Phil Angelides take the stage: