Obama Ames speech impressions

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

First Diary anywhere.  Forgive the disjointedness.

I went to the speech.  There were around 4-5k people there by my rough estimate (bottom tier of seats at Hilton full 2/3 of the way around, 400 or so on the floor, and top tier sparsely seated 2/3 of the way around.)  In respose to the question below as to whether it would be mostly students, I would say that it appeared to be about 1/2-2/3 students. 

Seemed to be his standard speech (see the reviews of his Springfield speech.)  His speech didn’t have obvious pauses for applause, so the audience never got roaring, just moderate rounds of applause.  He included calls for increased teacher pay, which seems out of place in a presidential race given that teacher pay is a state and local issue.  Smacked too much of telling people what they want to hear.

Was dissapointed by one introduction (I think it was Tom Miller) who stated Barack was the “only major candidate” to actively oppose the Iraq war from the beginning.  That whole “major candidate” political weaselling to shut out Kucinich and Vilsack seemed unnecessary.  Sure he’s trying to win, but a shout out to those who support his views would seem to be a magnanimous gesture.  And if those other candidates are really so minor,  why not get on their good sides for when their campaigns go under?

He must have read Snipehunter’s diary, as he did actively solicit caucus pledge cards from the audience.

I was dissapointed by his use of the term “homeland”.  The term still gives me the willies and there is no reason to continue to use it.  “Our nation” worked just fine for 200 years.  Let’s take back the framing of the debate and drop this Republican coined phrase.

I was also dissapointed by another phrase he used. He stated that America must be feared AND respected, or words to that effect.  Implying that we need more active diplomacy, which is of course a good thing.  But really, I see no reason for us to be feared at all.  That’s a meme that can die with “homeland.”

But all in all, he was clean and articulate and I’d have a beer with him.

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  • Vilsack wasn't always against the war

    Kucinich and Obama are the only declared candidates that I can think of that were opposed to the war from the beginning.  I would not say Kucinich is “minor,” but he is not considered by many to be a serious contender. I like his message, though.

    Vilsack has only spoken against the war within the last year. He said he did not want to speak out against the war a year ago because “Democrats need to be careful . . . . ” It was not until August that I have heard him criticize the war. It has been DLC all the way until recently.

    But I also thought it a little off that Miller said that Obama was the “only” one opposed to the war from the beginning.

    What was more interesting, Miller and Fitzgerald endorsed Obama today. If they have given up on Vilsack, there really is not much hope for Vilsack’s campaign.

    • Tom Miller endorsed Obama?

      Are you sure that he endorsed him for president, as opposed to just introducing him? That would really surprise me if he endorsed so early.

      Miller was for Lieberman early on last time and only endorsed Kerry at the very end. I didn’t expect him to land with Obama.

      • Co-chair of Iowa campaign?

        It was my understanding that Fitzgerald and Miller are co-chairs of Obama’s Iowa campaign. I might have that wrong, maybe only Fitzgerald is co-chair. But both very clearly endorsed Obama. No doubt about that.

    • Was Vilsack pro war or just no stance taken?

      I don’t recall hearing a public statement from him at the start of the war.  But I really didn’t expect him to take a stance since I thought it would have been odd to distract from state business for such an issue.

      I have never been fond of his DLC connections, so it seems to me that his breaking ranks is a good thing.  Perhaps too little too late though.

      • Not pro-war

        I do not recall him ever speaking out in favor of the invasion, but he was always careful not to condemn it, either. He was playing it safe.

        Yes, distancing himself from the DLC is a good thing. But it probably is too late.

  • I agree with you about "homeland"

    I associate that word with certain odious regimes of the 20th century.

    Nothing wrong with “our nation” or even “these United States,” which used to be the favorite of many presidential candidates.

  • Good Assessment

    I was at the event also and I pretty much agree with what you said.  I live blogged the event at Century of the Common Iowan. 

  • how many precincts are on the ISU campus?

    In other words, how many delegates could potentially be swung by ISU students?

    Seems to me that deep support on campus can’t get you very far in a caucus compared to what it can do for you in a primary.

    • A few

      I think there are only two precincts completely within campus (student housing), but there are a few more that are dominated by ISU students. So, there may be only a handful of ISU-dominated precincts out of the 2000+ statewide. Also, the caucuses will be in another school year, and it won’t be the same students.

      I did not size it up very close, but I would guess that only a fraction of the audience was ISU students. Most of the people seemed much older, and I know they came from all over Iowa. The local MoveOn people were collecting anti-esculation signatures for Grassley, and the people that signed the petition were mostly from out of town, some from out of state.

      I thought that only about 3000-3500 were there, but somewhere it was reported as 5000. The Obama people wanted big numbers to rival Clinton’s Des Moines rally, but perhaps a better benefit to them is how many caucus pledges they got. I saw them signing up quite a few, but I have no idea what they got.

      • Students provide the foot soldiers to canvas other precints

        The students are the ones that will be out in the cold canvassing the rest of the precints in Ames.

      • Numbers don't show committment.

        You may be right with the 3000-3500.  I’m lousy at estimating crowds.

        Many of the non-students that I saw there (myself included) were more window shopping than pledging support.  A moderate amount of talk about how this run will be setting him up for a real run at the presidency in 4 or 8 years.

        • This isn't a real run?


          • Didn't say I agreed, but...

            … just reporting what I heard some people say.  Still talk about how he doesn’t have enough experience.  I argued that point with a few, as even though I am not committed to Obama yet I think that he’d be fine.  But sometimes it’s hard to use facts to argue someone away from vague gut feelings..