Impressions from Soldier Field

what a difference three days makes.

today was the first day you could pass petitions in illinois, so it should surprise no one that several of the candidates had "tailgate" parties in the soldier field parking lot.  obama, biden and richardson all had formal gatherings, edwards' people met out front.  richardson had plenty of water (and signs).  the biden rally had food, so it was pretty packed.  but right next door was the obama tailgate party, and the man himself got up to say a few words.  people were invited even if they didn't have tickets, but obama's people had tickets for those who didn't.  i don't think this was advertised.

obama gave a rousing speech to about 1500 people (rough guess).  what was really fascinating was the biden people all came to the edge to listen (watch, if they could).  that struck me as telling.  obama is still the most interesting politician in america, even if edwards can give him a run for his money in being the most inspiring.

after the obama rally was over, we all began to move towards soldier field.  i ran into an old friend, and mentioned that i still had some tickets left over.  (i had gotten 50 from national afl-cio.)  my friend didn't have a ticket, but he said, "do you have extras? because there are members of the biden family who don't have tickets, and i'd love to set them up." so i gave him four -- i had two people not show up and another get caught in the 'burbs.  i can't remember why the fourth one was available.  wish i'd had gotten some food out of the deal, but i was in a hurry.

the irony of the evening was the hillary supporters collecting petitions right next to the anti-war demonstration.  hillary's people, mostly women (including michelle smith who had just run for alderman in chicago -- she gave me a great big hug) was the most organized in trying to collect signatures.  this was a prime opportunity, but the people weren't aggressive enough.  they were very passive about it, so probably didn't get that many signatures.  also, they didn't seem to be outside as we exited -- a major gaff.  that's when you can collect your biggest bounty.

hillary met beforehand with a couple of union leaders and announces, "i'm back among my people!" i was slightly taken aback -- but i guess we aren't the democratic party she's looking to represent.  or something.

the stage seemed to be on the goal posts (hillary mistakenly said ten yard line), with careful attention to not destroying the field.  bears fans will appreciate that.  but that was by no means the biggest problem.  they wouldn't sell beer!  the union had called the vendors and prohibited them from selling beer.  you have to understand, many of these union guys are season ticket holders.  they come to soldier field and they expect to have a beer (or two or three).  there were plenty of complaints in the mens room about NO BEER!

the funny thing about that, though, was that the crowd was animated enough without beer!  you weren't going to stop them!  right before the event began, the guys in section 247 started chanting 'one thirty four!'  'one thirty four!'  'one thirty four!'  the stage director started to count down for live coverage and called it off because they were chanting 'one thirty four!'

down on the field, seiu started calling out S E I U!  now you have to understand that even though seiu isn't a member of the afl-cio, seiu is a member of the chicago federation of labor.  and seiu was well represented.  anyway, they established before the first live shot that they were going to be heard.  and they were!

one other thing, before the debate began: the crowd got about 30 minutes of pre-debate speeches from dennis gannon (head of the chicago federation of labor) and others.  as dennis started speaking, he references mayor daley, which is interesting because the cfl had just run a bunch of candidates against daley backers in the 2007 aldermanics -- and it hadn't endorsed daley for the first time in years.  but dennis announced that they had just struck a deal with the daley administration and things were hunky doory.  even more interesting was that daley and gannon were engaged in a rather long conversation during the pre-debate warmups.  i'd love to have been in that conversation!

anyway, when daley was introduced, he was largely booed.  there was ample applause, too.  you either love him or hate him.  no inbetweens in chicago.  which makes sense, given chicago's role in the rise of the labor movement in america.

now here come the candidates!  when obama becomes visible, the place goes nuts!  it's a hometown crowd.  the photographers get their shots and then are marched off the field.  the good ones get some crowd shots on the way out.  then the stage goes silent.  ms. stage director starts counting down to keith oberman -- and section 247 starts up.  as they were chanting, bill richardson responds, seems to join in.  it's a rough crowd, but you are at the home of the monsters of the midway.

you will have noticed that the candidates were standing up, not sitting down tonight.  this made them more aggressive, more fiery than saturday.  this was especially true for hillary clinton, who brought angry hillary to the debate.  edwards is the first to reference ykos, and challenges everyone to say no to insider lobbyist money; when he says that the system is rigged against working people, the crowd erupts!  if obama was the favorite son, edwards was the long lost stepson.

during the first break, hillary is the first to come to the front of the stage.  she's looking for people she knows (lots of labor leaders here), smiling and getting into it.  dodd, edwards and kucinich quickly join her.  someone gives edwards an orange union t-shirt; hillary gets a phone number.  he must have been a big wig!

after commercial break, obama references his phased redeployment plan.  hadn't heard that for a while.  i notice that hillary talks about another one of her 3-point plans, but this one includes a promise she clearly can't keep.  who's counting?  there's a nice breeze a running and a very entertaining group watching.  all i needed was a rum drink...

there's spontaneous applause when barack corrects chris dodd.  this is chicago, where politics is a blood sport.  what i don't get is how people who pretend to know something about pakistan can try to claim that musharraf isn't in bed with muslim extremists.  generals and clerics are the basis of his current government.  i'm not sure who the extremists are supposed to be, if not the clerics he's already aligned with.

hillary got booed a lot, which is interesting because three hardcore union guys sitting near us are hardcore hillary supporters.  they aren't going to help her with the crowd, but they aren't going to be influenced by it, either!  hillary disagrees with transparency in government.

next break: obama greets workers, hillary kind of stands off on her own.  someone finally comes up to her to shake her hand, which she does gracefully.  while bill clinton would dive into a crowd, hillary is more reserved.  a couple of people bring up gifts for obama.  during the next break, there's a general make up check.  hillary disappears (probably for some similar check) and hurries back right as we are returning to air.

it was at this point that i notice that there are about a dozen people in their box seats, some who don't even have a view of the stage.  you got the big screens showing the televised shot (plus one doing the hearing impaired translation).  there's a standing ovation for the laid off ltv worker, and lots of applause when hillary mentions resurrection hospital.  this is a big deal, because resurrection has been using haymarket to keep the unions from unionizing for awhile.  but people here know.  hillary hit it spot on.

in the final break, obama laughs it up with richardson while dennis goes over to lecture keith oberman.  then, surprise, surprise, hillary comes up to barack and starts chatting it up.  they're very jovial, animated.  this isn't what the msm has been saying!

after the debate is over, there's a special reception for labor leaders and the candidates.  i hung around for awhile, gave my thanks to the national union people for all the tickets, and head out.  i'm starving!  but a very interesting evening.  it was much difference than ykos, different issues, a different vibe, and much more of a home town crowd.  obama was clearly the big cheese, but lots of sympathy for edwards here, and dennis kucinich was a crowd favorite, even if no one was going to support him here.  as i left the reception, all the buses were starting to leave -- 88 in all (iirc).  bet there's beer there!

Tags: 2008 Presidential Campaign, presidential debates, YearlyKos (all tags)



Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

nice account , even though we support different candidates I appreciate your account.

Do you think Edwards will get the endorsements of a lot of the unions at the debate , did you hear anyone of those union members echo anything in that direction.

by lori 2007-08-07 07:29PM | 0 recs
i always hear...

including tonight, that labor won't endorse before the primaries.  this hurts edwards the most, i'd imagine...

by bored now 2007-08-07 07:32PM | 0 recs
Re: i always hear...

Yeah he's done a lot to deserve their endorsements I'll admit that , but I think the quality of the candidates will make it tough for him.

Frankly I think its probably because of Hillary Clinton that is why they are hesitating , If it was just Edwards and Obama , they will go with Edwards in a heartbeat.

by lori 2007-08-07 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: i always hear...

What fantasy world do you live in?

Hillary this, Hillary that.

Get over her for one second.

by Michael 4 Edwards 2007-08-07 10:26PM | 0 recs
Re: i always hear...
You're right Lori - Hillary has the money to buy off Labor leaders.
And it won't be the first time Labor has sold out.
Oh - and Hillary just bought a SC state rep - offering him $10K a month to produce campaign literature. Obama had only offered $5K.
by annefrank 2007-08-08 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: i always hear...

Obama has a 96% lifetime voting record frome the national AFL-CIO web site.  Better than Edwards when he was in the Senate.

by upper left 2007-08-09 08:40AM | 0 recs
Edwards will receive

the endorsements of many unions.  Hoffa spoke very highly of him on Saturday at the bbq.

by TomP 2007-08-07 10:26PM | 0 recs
Re: i always hear...

Obama did well and all he really needed to do tonight was to clarify his position on terrorist camps inside Pakistan and he was very moving when he told the crowd that there are terrorist inside Pakistan that are training to come kill Americans and we should work with Musharraf but we should not let him be the final decision maker on whether we strike those camps....The crowd gave him standing ovation.

Hillary tried to get in with the Washington answer which is to not take any position and she got booed....Brack is right , foreign policy is very important stuff that the public have the right to know where you stand.

After that , i think Obama laid low since he had accomplished what he came to do.

Obama only problem is he allowed Edwards/Hillary to out-cheer-lead him on the Union question and this probably made both of them look like they care more about Unions then him.

Obama style is more of the serious type and he's not the cheerleading or pandering types , but he has to do the cheerleading stuff because this is what gets you attention from Union....

This is why Edwards is the front runner when it comes to Union endorsement and it's because Edwards had been in front cheerleading their causes.

by JaeHood 2007-08-08 12:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

Nice account. I'll recommend your diary. You seem to be the FIRST Obama supporter we can have a conversation with from time to time.


by areyouready 2007-08-07 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

Thanks. I enjoyed your write up. But, of course, the big question. Was it as much fun as a Bears game?

by hwc 2007-08-07 08:19PM | 0 recs
well, i'm a dolphins fan...

but it was very entertaining.  i love union guys (and gals)...

by bored now 2007-08-07 10:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

"in the final break, obama laughs it up with richardson while dennis goes over to lecture keith oberman.  then, surprise, surprise, hillary comes up to barack and starts chatting it up.  they're very jovial, animated.  this isn't what the msm has been saying!"

surprising.  NYTimes wants us to think they have a cold relationship: itics/07rivals.html

by enarjay 2007-08-07 08:23PM | 0 recs
i had seen that...

hence my surprise.  i wonder if they'll write about how amicable they seemed?

by bored now 2007-08-07 10:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

I was there too, your comments are quite accurate, good observations...thanks.

by jazzyjay 2007-08-07 11:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

It seems to me that we may beat the Republicans even before the General Election by showing America how much more we are willing to engage regular folks in the process with our creative forums.  (YouTube, YearlyKos, AFL-CIO).

by Todd Bennett 2007-08-08 04:42AM | 0 recs
i know this is a popular impression...

and i remember people feeling the same way in 2004.  but we assume (as hillary does) that the 2008 election will be about george bush.  if hillary is the nominee, which i assume she will be, the 2008 election will be about her, not about bush.  that's one of the problems of being the pseudo-incumbent.  it's all about her.  but hillary will enter the general election without the actual advantages of incumbency.

i don't share people's presumptions that 2008 is a democratic year in the making.  i like the background (political environment) but have too much respect for the opposition.  in the end, i don't see how democrats overcome the structural advantages that republicans bring to the general -- at least, not as long as hillary is the nominee.  sorry to be a wet blanket...

by bored now 2007-08-08 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: i know this is a popular impression...

in the end, i don't see how democrats overcome the structural advantages that republicans bring to the general -- at least, not as long as hillary is the nominee.  sorry to be a wet blanket...

This is exactly right. The GOP will come hard after whoever the nominee is, but the right wing noise machine as a whole will gel a lot better with Clinton as a nominee. I give Clinton perhaps a better chance at winning the general than you do, but with a lot of tacking toward the center, a thin majority of the popular vote, and few, if any, gains in Congress. That's a not a prescription for progress.

by clarkent 2007-08-08 06:25AM | 0 recs
The right-wing noise machine gel factor

should be a non-factor in who the Dems nominate.

And the way to deal with the right-wing media, as always, is to have clear, strong 'real Democratic Party' positions on the big issues, and to attack the noise machine, the Repubs and the mainstream media when they side-track to trivia from the issues that matter to most Americans.

I see little understanding from Obama or Hillary that they understand the right way to deal with b.s. trivia attacks. Edwards is catching on a little, though, in reaction to the 'haircut' b.s. the mainstream and right-wing media characterize him with.

by fairleft 2007-08-08 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

"Obama failed to provide an answer to whether he would honor baseball slugger Barry Bonds, whose career has been clouded by allegations of steroid use, if he were president."

He declined it till Bonds had broken the record, which happened last night... is that enough time for overnight polling?

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-08-08 06:45AM | 0 recs
call the office!

personally, i was surprised at that response.  he must have never thought about it (i don't know that he's a baseball fan, so).  my question would be, is it ok now that hank aaron seems to be ok with it?  obama's response was too vague, though...

by bored now 2007-08-08 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: call the office!

There was no good response to that question, and I think Obama did the best he could by choosing to discuss more generally the importance of positive role models in sports (which alluded more strongly to Aaron than Bonds).

He acknowledged Bonds' accomplishments without weighing in on the alleged steroid use. Because we don't know with certainty that Bonds' has used them (although common sense inclines us to believe he has), it would have seemed overly prejudicial for Obama to openly question the legitimacy of his accomplishments.

by DPW 2007-08-08 07:14AM | 0 recs
I'd duck that question too

it's real tricky, particularly in the african american community where bonds is well-received. hillary would have ducked as well I bet. Joe Biden, he'd have answered.

obama certainly dodged that one. but i can't blame him.

by dpg220 2007-08-08 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

That was a pretty stupid gotcha question, Jerome. I thought he handled it pretty well considering.

I do agree that refusing to answer a hypothetical in this case was a cop out - he should have left that part of the answer out. What, Bonds isn't going to hit another home run in the next month or so?

by clarkent 2007-08-08 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

He hit it last night.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-08-08 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field


by clarkent 2007-08-08 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

Dodge or no dodge, that's just a dumb question.

Who's going to honor a guy 2 years after he broke the record?

Are they going to ask if he's going to honor the Colts for their 2007 championship in 2009?

What about the Cardinals?

Hell, maybe he should honor the White Sox World Series team, too?

And since they're from Illinois, maybe he should honor the runner-up Illinois Basketball team from the Final Four a few years ago?

That question is ridiculous.  

The only person for which that question is relevant is the current occupant, who I believe has declined inviting Bonds to the White House.

by JJCPA 2007-08-08 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

That was the most ridiculous question in the whole debate, period.

by iamready 2007-08-08 11:37AM | 0 recs

because Barry Bonds is the subject most voters want to discuss. Yeesh.

by jj32 2007-08-08 09:24PM | 0 recs
Ahmadinejad, Pakistan? YES! Barry Bonds? Ugh...

Am I the only one who thinks it's absurd that Obama wants to kumbaya with Ahmadinejad and Jong-il, plus invade Pakistan, BUT, he remains cautious and non-commital with regards to having Barry Bonds to the White House?

by BigBoyBlue 2007-08-08 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

they wouldn't sell beer!  the union had called the vendors and prohibited them from selling beer.  

That is good to learn! The first shots of Keith Olbermann included an energetic Union member jumping up and down, waving at the camera. My first thought was of our sorry history of drunks on the field, so I'm glad to know there was no beer sold in the stadium.

Now that I'm able to watch the entire debate (via C-Span), the jumper seems to have been contained.

The debate replay is at the point of audience questions. I like the immediacy and succinctness of these questions, they really have had a lot of impact. Excellent production.

Thanks for your report on the live event.

by Books Alive 2007-08-08 07:08AM | 0 recs
the section behind olbermann...

was the first section filled.  15 seconds of fame and all...

by bored now 2007-08-08 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

Damn, I kept getting those emails from the Chicago Obama organizers, and I really wish I could've been there (I'm out of town for the summer). It sounds like it was a great night

by Max Fletcher 2007-08-08 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressions from Soldier Field

Of course, there is no way it could have been a slip of the tongue.  Clearly the manga cum laude from Harvard is actually too stupid to be let out in public let alone run for POTUS.  If you have to choose between a candidate slipping up and saying President instead of Prime Minister or one who helped authorize and promote the worst FP disaster in a generation, clearly, you want to go with the war mongerer.

by jg40 2007-08-08 11:28AM | 0 recs
So close, and yet so far...

The prime minister is not a president, either.  The prime minister is leader of the government, but is not head of state, has no power to declare war, make peace, and direct the actions of the military, though holding de facto decision-making power over the armed forces.  These powers are held on behalf of the Crown by the Governor-General.

Canada is right next to you, did you know that?

by Shaun Appleby 2007-08-09 01:02AM | 0 recs


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