The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ was buzzing today. It was a buzz I’m sure has never been present for any New Jersey Devils game….ever. Today was not your typical Sunday in Newark though. Barack Obama was back in New Jersey to campaign for Governor Jon Corzine’s reelection.
I’ve been spoiled recently with all the great seats at these rallies here in New Jersey so today felt like I was sitting a long way away. We were up in the nosebleed section but managed to work our way down to the lower level unfortunately just now close enough to get a better view. What made it even worse was that it appeared as though they took people from the nosebleed section and brought them down right in front of the stage moments before Governor Corzine and President Obama took the stage. I got there around 9:30 and got a decent enough spot in line. Gates opened at 11:30 AM. This was the 2nd event of the day schdeduled in New Jersey for Obama and Corzine yet Obama hadn’t even left Washington yet. I had figured we’d be there for a while.
The event itself seemed to go by a lot quicker compared to other recent events. We didn’t have as many local speakers so that definitely helped with the pace. The event just started abruptly. The national anthem was already a couple of verses in before the crowd got up. There was no announcement made asking everyone to stand as it is usually done. Three congressmen spoke but the crowd didn’t care much at all even when they were using Obama campaign slogans of “Fired Up!” and “Yes we Can.” The last congressman Frank Pallone introduced Loretta Weinberg who interestingly enough was at the event early. Was she not at the Camden event?
Loretta Weinberg used the same themes as her speeches last week as the rallies last week. He speech centered around the diverse crowd and how it reflected the Democrats. Senator Weinberg also referred to Christie as a “pretender” adding that he was “trying to sell himself as an agent of change”. The Senator went on to add that if Christie wants to talk change he should come to her because she “broke more glass ceilings than Chris Christie has had automobile accidents….and that’s not easy”. Ouch! This of course is a knock on Chris Christie’s driving record. I was going to add that unlike the events of last week we got no mentions of Sarah Palin or Mark Sanford. Why did they drop that? I thought it was a pretty effective attack on Christie.
Up next was Mayor Cory Booker of Newark. I assumed he was there to introduce Jon Corzine but I was wrong. If you haven’t heard him speak you definitely should. He’s going to be next Senator (once Lautenberg retires) or next Governor from New Jersey. Doesn’t hurt that Barack Obama seems to be a fan as he mentions him at all his New Jersey stops. This is a mayor who has done great work in Newark. This is a mayor who actually goes on patrol with the city’s cops at night actually being in touch with what is going on in the streets of his city. Not to anyone’s surprise he got a louder cheer at this rally than Governor Corzine. Cory Booker joined a long list of people who’ve pitched Jon Corzine in a better fashion then John Corzine. Booker spoke with his usual optimism adding “Yes We Can in Washington!….Yes We Can in Trenton!….Yes We Can in Newark!….Yes We Can!” Cory Booker rallied the crowd to stand behind Barack Obama and Jon Corzine in these tough times.
While Jon Corzine was having this big rally Chris Christie had Joe “You Lie” Wilson campaigning on his behalf.
When Jon Corzine didn’t immediately take stage following Cory Booker’s speech I figured another last minute addition had been to this event like the Caroline Kennedy addition at the FDU event last week. No such luck this time.
Crowd was fired up during this long pause. This DJ did a great job getting the crowd fired up just as he did at the Obama and Biden rallies last week here in NJ. There was actually an attempted wave. That one just confused me.
Governor Corzine referred to this as a “victory rally”. He once again referred to the diverse crowd. He reminded everyone (just in case we had forgotten) that a year ago at the polls we said “Yes We Can!” Corzine added that just like President Obama he believes that “Health Care is a right and not a privilege.” Corzine emphasized that “Christie is wrong where it matters most.” The Governor hit his opponent hard on education and healthcare. Chris Christie’s comments about pre-school being “babysitting” keeps hurting him as every speaker at every rally I’ve been at has mentioned it. Corzine referred to himself in 3rd person a couple of times which was awkward. Corzine made sure to mention that Chris Christie was campaigning today with the “extremist” Joe Wilson of South Carolina.
Has anyone heard an official attendance number from this rally? Someone mentioned to be that White House Officials said 12,000. I saw Corzine people say 13,500. I had estimated a crowd of around 10,000 from how packed the arena was.
The ovation for Barack Obama was just huge. New Jersey loves Barack Obama. Phil Elliot of the Associated Press compared the crowd noise to the 2008 campaign crowds. Barack Obama started by saying that he was back as he promised and that “they” couldn’t keep him away. Was that a dig at the recent GOP comments from Christie people saying Obama visits aren’t helping Corzine? Obama pointed out “one of the finest mayors in the country Cory Booker is in the house.” Obama went after Christie saying he acts as though New Jersey is the only state effected by the recession. Obama pointed out that recession didn’t start under his watch. Obama talked about the selective memory and amnesia about how we got into this mess. The President said that “we don’t mind cleaning up after someone else’s mess.” Obama brought out the “mop” portion of speech too. Implying that if GOP wouldn’t help clean the least they could do was not complain about “how we’re holding the mop.” One thing about Obama that I’ve noticed, he responds to every single “I love you Obama!” each and every time. Obama pointed out that Governor is the first NJ Governor in 60 years to reduce size of government in state. Obama said to not worry about political nonsense in ads and to look at the actual record. Obama said Corzine had been prudent with spending. He applauded Corzine’s expansion of children health insurance and added that the other guy has nothing to say on health care. Obama ended with an abbreviated version of the “fired up” story. Does anyone know if it was because the congressman beat the story to death before Obama even got to the event?
Earlier in the day President Obama also campaigned for Jon Corzine in Camden.