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Features > Waukesha, WI (February 2008) > Barack Obama Town Hall


On February 13, 2007 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama visited the Waukesha, Wisconsin Expo Center. I went with my friends Beth and Andrew Cleary who also graduated from Creighton the same year as me.

Despite my normal humorous comments below, I was impressed by his appearance and for my money he's the best candidate (I'm sure he'll note my endorsement on his website really soon now).



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I don't know many people that would go as far as this "I got a crush on Obama" bumper sticker, but Obama seemed pretty popular


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Although we had to stand out in the cold a bit longer than the 11:30am opening time of the expo center, it was a generally excited mood and a large line had already formed.


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Vendors sold t-shirts and buttons to the waiting crowd (they travel with the candidates, get paid for their work, and proceeds go to the Democratic National Committee)


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Beth bought a "Oh, Momma...We Need Obama" button - it must be tough for people with last names like Clinton or McCain...vowel endings are much more endearing and rhyming


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After getting through the TSA-guarded entrance through metal detectors (and having to show them my camera was a REAL camera that had lights and everything) we got settled in the 5th row back on the right side pretty much in line with the podium (at a 90 degree angle). There was a lot of waiting until the estimated 1:25 pm arrival of Obama, here someone a few rows in front of us reads the headlines of the day.


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All the fancy cameras in the back - there were also can lights around the balcony in a horseshoe shape illuminating the podium as well as 1 or 2 strobes put up for the event.


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Supporters (especially those crazy fanatic ones that got in line early enough to be in the risers behind the podium, loved to fire up the crowd and start the O-Wave (I think some of them were staffers or local organizers though)


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These people spelled out "Yes we can!" but some were shorter than others so it wasn't too easy to see


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Mayor of Waukesha Larry Nelson I guess signing a copy of Barck's book (maybe the owner was too impatient to wait for Obama)


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The poor staffer (he probably gets paid in granules of sugar or something) that had to put the tape on the sign for the front of the podium. The funny thing about all the signs (including the few they handed out) was that you'd think the candidate's name was CHANGE, not Obama. The banner behind, signs being held, and podium sign all had CHANGE as the biggest text and didn't even have Obama or Barack on them except the web address in small print below. The O with American-flag field was the only Obama related graphic or textual element that was big enough to see. Smart marketing...


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If he doesn't hang it perfectly straight there are 8 other staffers junior to him that are eager to start getting paid grandules of sugar to begin with!


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This child has a homemade shirt that says "Kids for Obama" - I think he looks sad that his attempts at harnessing this key demographic didn't pay off in attendance by children


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So eventually about 20 minutes or so after the 1:25 pm target (not bad for presidential candidate time) one could feel the cold air from an open door behind us, Secret Service (they weren't so secret looking) poured in and eventually the campaign manager for Wisconsin introduced some lady whose name nobody recognized. She talked for 5 minutes or so about the challenges of owning a small business in Waukesha and how Obama's healthcare plan/etc would help her and introduced Barack.


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Talk about hordes of crazy people, everybody had their cameraphone or normal phone out trying to get a shot, so I was luck to even get this obstructed one upon his entry.


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You can see the adage about kissing babies is still true, but maybe kissing is a bit dangerous - so waving fingers will have to do. The lady behind the mom and kid is so cuteified by the presidential candidate saying hi to a baby in a cow jumper she almost throws up on everyone.


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Now really, that lady with the cameraphone on the left of the frame - does she NEED a photo of Obama's suit sleeve?


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This person on the left is a much more skilled cameraphone operator


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The crowd rejoices!


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Step 1 - Take microphone out of holder and push down that annoying metal flex thingy so the CAMERAS can see you shooting from directly in front


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Then he started to talk, he is a very good orator but some points were a bit pandering and not taking individual responsibility for some things like the mortgage crisis. Of course, I don't think ANYBODY can win telling people that they're being foreclosed on at least partially because they weren't informed enough about the terms of their mortgage. However, blaming it all on the lenders isn't telling the whole story.


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Although he smiled and such during the speech, only when he made a mistake and said something like 'After 2 years in office' and corrected that back to 'After 2 years campaigning' He did also make a funny joke about how you couldn't ever tell what those pharmaceutical ads on TV were about (people running through fields etc) and said there was one commercial everyone knew what the drug was for...oh Viagra - you make such an endless joke factory.


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