07 April 2008

Barack Obama in Montana: Time for Change, Time for Hope

My wife (Jan Munday) and I were disappointed that we could not get tickets to the annual state Democratic dinner here in Butte. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke. Either is an excellent alternative to John "Iraq: 100 more years" McCain, aka "the Bush third term."

Like a lot of middle-aged women who grew up with feminism and expanded opportunity for women, Jan finds Clinton a good candidate. So do I. Still, I prefer Obama and welcome the prospect of a president who is younger than I am. And so we left Butte at 6 a.m. Saturday morning for the 120-mile drive to the Obama rally at the University of Montana-Missoula. Normally, you can set the cruise at 85 mph and it's a quick trip, but a spring storm layed down sheer ice from Deer Lodge to Rock Creek. Made me glad for Jan's Subaru with 'em studded tires!

The line was about 8,000 people long by the time we parked, walked across the pedestrian bridge over the Clark Fork River, and found the end of the line at 8 a.m. Here's the line, folded up and down (and up and down) along the campus streets:

The doors opened at 8 a.m., the line moved slowly, and we were inside at 9:30 a.m. There were t-shirt and button vendors, and lots of volunteers signing up new voters. Waiting in line was a great social experience, chatting with the group from Missoula, a young couple from Minnesota and Vermont, some college students, and the couple from the Bitterroot:

Barack Obama is a tremendous orator, and his message resonated with the crowd. He spoke without a podium, using a hand held microphone and adressing the crowd in every direction:

Obama's position on getting out of the costly war in Iraq was especially popular, as were his positions on universal health care and a big higher education tax credit (in return for service). Some folks we talked with at the rally have been conservative Republicans all their lives, but they are fed up with Bush's huge budget deficits and his scorn for constitutional protections. What a crowd pleaser when, at the end of his speech, folks surfed their babies up to the front row for a good luck kiss!

Later that day, Obama arrived in Butte for the party dinner. You can tell this guy has worked the tough neighborhoods of South Chicago, and is comfortable wherever he goes. As on his visit to the M&M Bar and Cafe -- Butte's landmark watering hole -- to rub elbows with "real Butte:"

Yes we can!

More information: http://barackobama.com

Obama at the M&M photo by John Grant Emeigh from the Montana Standard photo gallery webpage, http://pictopia.com/perl/gal?gallery_id=40268&sequencenum=12&provider_id=607&process=gallery&page=thumbnails

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