And brought along my mom for a long but well-worth it trip to see him speak at the high school behind Brian's grandparents' house.
I got an email Wednesday evening about the event, and pretty much brushed it off but not without an initial "oh my gosh! he's going to be in Abington!" reaction.
But then, later that night I thought about how this would be a fantastic opportunity to see him speak live and may not have another chance anytime soon since he already visited New Hampshire (another one of his battleground states) - during the Reach the Beach relay - both on Friday, September 12th (Concord) and Saturday, September 13th (Manchester).
So, here's my timeline* for the past two days: (*speech timeline provided by the Daily Pennsylvanian)
Thursday, October 2nd 2008
05:00pm - leave for NJ
07:00pm - arrive in NJ and eat yummy Fort Lee Pizzeria spaghetti & meat sauce, then watch Biden/Palin VP debate with mom & dad
11:30pm - go to bed
Friday, October 3rd 2008
03:06am - wake-up
03:20am - wake-up Mom
03:50am - drive to Abington, PA (just love driving in the middle of the night - no traffic!)
05:30am - arrive at Abington High School. A man walks up to us and tells us that I can't park where I initially parked because the spots are reserved for secret service, and he tells us where we can park, where luckily there was plenty of spots. I start to think that we got there way too early since I didn't really see many people. I park next to a Massachusetts-plated car, and we sit in the car for a little bit to stay warm - it's supposed to be in the high 40's/low 50's. We notice that the people in the car next to us are working on something, maybe a sign or a board to hold buttons to sell.
05:45am - stand in line. There are probably 30 or so people ahead of us, but as the night progresses, more people walk up to the front of the line, most of which are students probably holding spots for their friends.
Photo of two large bugs mating on the fence next to where we stood and above my bag.
The two girls in front of us in line certainly had a fascination with describing all things gay or lesbian, especially music, like, "You love listening to lesbian music" and "You're such a lesbian" to each other as if it were going out of style. Ugh, is this the banter among teens these days? At least to the left of us included music played on an iPhone by Gogol Bordello and banter about standing in line for their concert for hours.
~6:45am - the sun rises - yay! but now there's wind, so it actually feels colder
Abington Police and secret service converge on the field, building metal detectors and screening tables.
8:00am - I go back to the car to drop off my bag and other items we won't need once inside. The line is much longer now. Mom calls me while I'm in the car as I sort through all my things to bring for the rally and tells me that they are re-organizing the line. She also says they're letting people in, and I call back to confirm, and she said the same thing, so I ran down the hill. False alarm. She totally freaked me out, but when I saw what time it was, I should have known she misspoke or didn't hear my question. It was 8:15am.
It looks like no one inside knows what's going on as they combine what was once two screening sections into one. And we find out soon enough that doesn't work to our advantage...at all.
We are handed forms to fill out and serve as our tickets to get inside:
Next, a woman comes by and asks if we have buttons showing our support. I have mine, but Mom doesn't, so the woman gives her a sticker: (heh, heh) Another volunteer tells us that all electronic gadgets need to be turned on so the screeners can do their job more efficiently, and that we needed to remove all metal, including all those buttons, from our persons.
More people just randomly walk up to the front of the line, and according to Mom, ask someone in line a question, and then just stands there. Ugh, line cutters...
it gets worse.
~8:55am - A large group of students march in a HUGE line towards the front, forming a second line next to the already long line we're in. Woah! What the heck?! And the front of that line just balloons with students passing other students in line. Welcome students of Abington High - scratch that...you're not welcome, you can't even vote! Here we are, standing in line for hours, and what, they get access before us?
09:00am - gates open
So, the procession into the field begins. Instead of the maybe 60 or less people in front of us, now there were probably more than twice that.
One of the line cutters actually tried to cut ahead of me right before I went through the metal detectors, and I said, "Excuse me!" and she was like, "Oh, sorry..." One of the women who was originally in line ahead of me praised me for standing up.
Once through, I learned that the Abington High students were supposed to go sit in the bleachers while the general public head for the stage - woo hoo! That certainly made my morning, and I made a dash for the stage. And then my visual thinking overtook my senses as I left my front row side view for a more central but fifth row view. I had a perfect view and debated with myself as Mom held the front row for us. One of the volunteers misinformed me of chairs being set up in the section next to me, but up until then, it looked like semi-smooth sailing, as there were two towers in front of me, but not in my line of sight to the podium. So, I made the call, and Mom gave up our front row spots to join me.
Photo by kellyloggs26
Enough of that. It really aggravates me what happens next, so much so I'd rather not write it up.
When we gave our tickets, I was given two "button" stickers as well, one like my button "Obama '08", and another saying "Registered to vote, and voting for Obama" - see Mom below (hee hee)
Our immediate surroundings
The long line still waiting to get in.
10:40am - opening speeches
Joe Hoeffel, Montgomery County Commissioner & former Representative of the U.S. House, opens the program. He stated that the one thing he learned from last night's debate was that he’ll never vote for a candidate that winks at him. "I want someone who will lead us and inspire us, not someone who winks at us."
Campaign organizer and 10-year old girl who recited the Pledge of Allegiance with the crowd. It's been a LONG time since I've done that. She just turned 10 and we sang "Happy Birthday" to her. She also volunteers for the campaign by making phone calls every day after school. He prepared the crowd to chant "O-ba-ma!" and respond to "Fired up!" with "Ready to Go!"
State Senator Leanna Washington gave a spirited speech and, referred to Governor Sarah Palin, asking, "Did she have on her lipstick?" and the crowd yelled "No!"
Josh Shapiro, State Representative is the Deputy Speaker of the Pa. House of Representatives, representing the 153rd Legislative District in Montgomery County. Sophia, his daughter, pretty much blocked my once clear line of sight of the podium for the duration of Obama's speech, not only with her head but with her homemade sign. (grrr...)
The behemoth (right) who kept bumping into me and propped Sophia in my line of sight. During the intermission between speeches, signs of "Change We Need" were passed, and I almost didn't get one, as many hands just grabbed them away, even as they were being held by one of the two towers in front of me, but I managed to get the last one from his hand. Yay - now signs blocked everyone's view...
CNN Video - First glimpse of the rally on TV
11:15am - No sign of Obama, apart from a secret service SUV.
11:20am - Senator Bob Casey just spoke and Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania is now speaking.
Rendell reports that Obama, a big White Sox fan, "has promised if the White Sox aren't in the World Series, he's going to root for the Phillies."
11:26am - Rendell introduces Bob Rupert, a resident of Montgomery County.
11:28am - Rupert, a volunteer for the Obama campaign in Pottstown explains how his job was downsized and eventually cut over the eight years of the Bush adminsistration.
11:29am - Rupert introduces Obama, who jogs on to the field to a cheering crowd.
CNN Video beginning of speech:
11:31am - Obama speaks briefly about about the debate, correcting a comment by Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s comment about his plan for economic stimulus. “The U.S. has experienced its ninth straight month of job loss… this is the economy that John McCain described two weeks ago as ‘fundamentally strong.’”
11:36am - Talking about renewable energy: “What will work is investing 15 billion dollars a year in renewable energy.”
11:39am - He’s now talking about creating jobs: “If people tell you we can’t afford it, then you just remind them that we are spending 10 billion dollars a month on Iraq, while they have a 79 billion dollar surplus… We can rebuild America with that.”
11:43am - The crowd is chanting “Yes we can”
11:44am - Talking about McCain and the economy “He hasn’t been getting tough on CEOs. He hasn’t been getting tough on Wall Street. Suddenly there’s a crisis and he’s out there talking like Jesse Jackson”
11:46am - Still talking about McCain: “I’m not sure he doesn’t care, I just don’t think he gets it. I get it.” The crowd erupts into applause, chants O-ba-ma, at hearing this key phrase of Obama’s campaign.
My video of Obama and crowd:
11:48am - About the rescue package: “I know it’s controversial… This is not simply about bailing out Wall Street, but is about making sure that your jobs are protected.”
11:49am - “I reject the idea that you can’t build a strong middle class at a time when the economy is weak”
11:49am - Obama is now talking about healthcare, which was discussed during last night’s debate. “If you don’t have coverage, you’ll be able to get the same coverage that the senators get themselves”
11:50am - “I was debating John McCain last week and he said, ‘the American people don’t want a government healthcare plan,’ John McCain doesn’t seem to mind his healthcare plan.”
11:52am - Moving on from healthcare, Obama is now outlining his plan for education. He promises to make sure American educations are “second to none” in the world.
11:53am - “If you serve your country, or your community… if you serve in the military, or in the peace corps… if you work in a homeless shelter… We will invest in you… You will be able to afford college, no ifs, ands or buts.”
11:54am - The crowd, which includes members of Abington High School, chants again, “Obama, Obama”
11:55am - Back to Wall Street: “Just as we demand accountability in Wall Street, I will demand accountability in Washington… I will start by ending a war in Iraq”
11:58am - “We will all need to pull our weight, because now, more than ever, we are all in this together… what this crisis has told us is that in the end, there is no separation between Main Street and Wall Street.”
12:02pm - Pumping up the crowd with a final appeal for support and volunteers, Obama finishes his speech.
Video Clip on Obama leaving the stage after his speech
Photos from near our original spot, given by Carlton Jones
Photos by Carlton Jones
CNN Summary News Clip + a little something extra at the end
Our photo taken by Carlton Jones (right) - thanks!
Wow! What a great experience. My mom even was surprised by the celebrity status and reaction of the crowd, as I had to remind her that this man could be the next President of the United States. She's officially undecided and said that she'll make up her mind after the final debate. Was my dad right after all?
Obama delivered his speech in his usual confident style, and initially he seemed larger than life especially with all the hubbub and shrieks from the crowd, not screams, but high-pitched shrieks - from all those teenagers. But as my own excitement simmered down, I was able to listen to his words more carefully to see if there was more I could learn about his policies and the reasons and influences behind his decisions. My mom felt he really connects with the audience in a way McCain just doesn't, like as if he were just having a conversation with you. She gives a lot of credit to his speech writer and found herself agreeing with some of the things Obama said, especially about healthcare.
A video created by students at my alma mater.
One of several supporters getting interviewed at the end of the rally.
Media hard at work and on break for lunch.
12:54pm - head to car to drive to NJ after wandering around, hoping to get my Time Magazine autographed, but apparently I missed that opportunity. (That's why I was walking so fast in the video clip)
Traffic as expected is a nightmare.
1:19pm - drive by Brian's grandparents' house
02:55pm - park at the Fort Lee Pizzeria parking lot, order pizza and cheese ravioli
03:20pm - arrive at home, eat yummy food, watch news about signed Bail Out bill
04:10pm - drive back to West Hartford
Lovely Friday rush hour traffic. Sit in stop...go stop...go stop traffic on the Merritt, take exit 39a in Norwalk to I-95 as a detour. Maybe fared just a little better - stuck in slow but moving traffic for ten miles. Getting a bit antsy...see "heavy traffic" sign for upcoming exits and take exit 39 to get back on the Merritt - no more traffic, no more detours - thank goodness
06:57pm - Park car and walk to Salon Medusa for my 7pm haircut appointment. Yup, had to rush back home for a much needed, long overdue haircut, which on Thursday I had rescheduled from my original time slot of 1:30pm.
07:43pm - walk out of salon
07:52pm - arrive home
Hmm, that was certainly a long day...
link to speech on www.barackobama.com
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Friday, October 3, 2008
How about that debate last night. Didn’t my running mate Joe Biden – a fellow some people call the third Senator from Pennsylvania – didn’t he do a great job? I was so proud of Joe. America, I think, saw clearly why I felt he’d be such a great Vice President, especially during these difficult, challenging times.
You know, there were a lot of noteworthy moments in that debate, but there’s one that sticks out this morning. It’s when Governor Palin said to Joe Biden that our plan to get our economy out of the ditch was somehow a job killing plan.
I wonder if she turned on the news this morning.
Because it was just reported that America has experienced its ninth straight month of job loss. Just since January, we’ve lost more than 750,000 jobs across America, 7,000 in Pennsylvania alone. This is the economy that John McCain said – just two weeks ago – was fundamentally strong. This is the economy that my opponent said made great progress under the policies of George W. Bush. And those are the economic policies that he proposes to continue for another four years.
So when Senator McCain and his running mate talk about job killing, that’s something they know a thing or two about. Because the policies they’re supporting are killing jobs every single day.
Well, Abington, I am here to tell you that we cannot afford four more years of this. Because where I come from, there’s nothing more fundamental than having the sense of meaning and purpose that comes with showing up at work in the morning. There’s nothing more fundamental than being able to put your kids through college, or having health care when you get sick, or being able to retire with security. There’s nothing more fundamental than a good paying job.
That’s why we’re here today – because we need to do what we did in the 1990s and create millions of new jobs and not lose them. We need to do what we did in the 1990s and make sure people’s incomes are going up and not down. We need to do what a guy named Bill Clinton did in the 1990s and put people first again. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.
We’ve tried it their way. It hasn’t worked. And it won’t work now. But let me tell you what will work.
What will work is investing $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable sources of energy like wind and solar – an investment that will generate five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced. And by the way, we can end our dependence on foreign oil in the process, and nothing will help our economy more than that.
What will work is making an investment in rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges. That will mean jobs for two million more Americans.
My opponent supports giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. But what will work is giving those tax breaks to companies that create jobs here at home.
My opponent supports tax havens that let companies avoid paying taxes here in America – tax havens that cost $100 billion every year. But what will work is shutting those tax havens and closing corporate loopholes.
What will work is giving tax breaks to the small businesses that are the engine of economic growth in this country, and cutting taxes – hear me now – cutting taxes – for 95 percent of all working families. Under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan.
That’s what will work. And that’s the kind of change Joe Biden and I are going to bring to Washington.
Now, let me be perfectly clear. The fact that our economy is in this mess is an outrage. It’s an outrage because we did not get here by accident. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This did not happen because of a few bad apples.
This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years. It’s the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. Well, this crisis is nothing less than a final verdict on this failed philosophy – and it’s a philosophy that will end when I’m President of the United States.
That’s what this election is all about.
Because despite my opponent’s best efforts to make you think otherwise, this is the philosophy he’s embraced during his twenty-six years in Washington. And it shows just how out of touch he really is. How else could he offer $200 billion in tax cuts for big corporations at a time like this? How else could he propose giving the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills? How else could he come up with an economic plan that leaves out more than 100 million middle class taxpayers?
Senator McCain just doesn’t get it. Well, Abington, I do get it. And I think all of you get it too.
We know these are difficult times. We know how bad Pennsylvania has been hurting. But here’s what I also know – I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because that’s what Americans do. This is a nation that’s faced tougher times than these – we’ve faced war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we’ve risen to meet these challenges because we’ve never forgotten that fundamental truth – that here, in this country, our destiny is not written for us; it’s written by us.
Here, in the United States of America, the future is ours to shape. That’s what we need to do right now. Part of what that means is passing the rescue plan that’s before Congress. This is a plan that will help us deal with this immediate crisis and put our economy on a firmer footing. It’s a plan I voted for the other night – because I made sure it included taxpayer protections and wasn’t simply a blank check like this administration initially asked for. And it’s a plan that the House is going to be voting on soon. So to Democrats and Republicans in the House who are now on the fence, let me say this: do not make the same mistake twice. For the sake of our families, our economy, and our country, step up to the plate and pass this plan.
But understand, even with this plan, we may face a long and difficult road to recovery. That’s why, if I’m President, passing this rescue plan won’t be the end of what we do to strengthen our economy, it’ll be the beginning. It’ll be the beginning of a long-term rescue plan for our middle class – a plan that will put opportunity within reach for anyone who’s willing to fight for it.
Now, some people have asked whether our weakening economy means the next President will have to scale back his agenda. But I reject the idea that you can’t build a strong middle class at a time when our economy is weak. Because I’ve got a different economic philosophy than John McCain – I believe that building a strong middle class is the key to making our economy strong. And that’s what we’ll do when I’m President of the United States.
So yes, we’ll create millions of new jobs, and yes, we’ll put more money back into the pockets of hardworking families. But we’ll also do something more. We will reform our health care system so we can relieve families, businesses, and our economy from the crushing cost of health care by investing in new technology and preventative care. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves.
And we’re going to stand up to the insurance companies. This is personal for me. My mother died when she was 53 from ovarian cancer, and you know what she was doing in her final months? She was in her hospital bed arguing with insurance companies about whether or not it was a preexisting condition. So I know the pain that’s caused by our broken health care system. And that’s why as President, I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
And another thing we know will work in the long term is to make sure that our education system is second to none so that every child in America has the skills they’ll need to compete for high wage jobs in the 21st century. I’ve laid out a comprehensive plan to get there that will give our kids the opportunities they deserve.
When I spoke about that plan a while back, Senator McCain’s top education advisor said that this isn’t an issue he’s been focused on.
Well, let me tell you, if you want to create jobs and grow this economy in the 21st century, you had better focus on education. Because we know that countries that out-teach us today will outcompete us tomorrow.
Finally, I will modernize our outdated financial regulations and put in place the common-sense rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March – rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in the boardroom, and make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that caused this crisis again.
But just as we demand accountability on Wall Street, we must also demand it in Washington. That’s why I’m not going to stand here and simply tell you what I’m going to spend, I’m going to tell you how we’re going to save when I am President.
I’ll do what you do in your own family budgets and make sure we’re spending money wisely. I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate programs that don’t work and aren’t needed. We’ll start by ending a war in Iraq that’s costing $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. And we’ll save billions more by cutting waste, improving management, and strengthening oversight.
These are the changes and reforms we need. A new era of responsibility and accountability on Wall Street and in Washington. Common-sense regulations to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again. Investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century. Bottom-up growth that gives every American a fair shot at the American dream.
I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without cost. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There is only the road we’re traveling on as Americans – and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation; as one people.
This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?
Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?
This is one of those moments. I realize you’re cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you’re disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what’s been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe – to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.
Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can’t afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves.
We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.
Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change – if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you – we will win Pennsylvania, we will win this election, and then you and I – together – will change this country and change this world. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.