I wonder how many other candidates will make it to Fairfield as part of the
That’s a small town for you - at a big city rally I’d be lucky to get near him.
I’ll be honest, I decided to attend Barack Obama’s visit to the square Tuesday night primarily so that I could take photos and feed my Flickr addiction. I’ve been rooting for Edwards the past several months while hoping Gore’s announcement is just around the corner. Imaging that once Gore announced, a Gore-Clinton ticket would form to take back the White House. Obama was nowhere on my radar in terms of being a realistic contender for the Presidency.
I arrived at the square, already crowded with citizens, security and photo journalists, about fifteen minutes before Obama. My camera lens led me into and around the crowd, snapping photos as well as scouting out positions for Obama’s speech. I happened to be standing at one of the many ropes strung around the square, checking my camera settings, when I heard a wave of cheering and applause roll through the crowd. I looked up and there he was, Barack Obama had suddenly arrived, eagerly shaking hands and talking to people as he slowly made his way to the gazebo.
I did what I had set out to do, and started taking photos. Through the lens, I started noticing that Obama wasn’t just shaking hands and making small talk. He was having a conversation with the town. He would stop and focus on an individual, and ask or answer a question with them. There was no rushing him to the stage. This was also the case when he left - if you did not shake hands with Barack Obama, then you did not want to shake hands with him - he took the time to meet everyone that showed up to hear him speak.
About five minutes into his speech, I completed my transformation from photographer to listener, and voter. I had written Obama off because I had convinced myself that this country is not capable of electing a black president. But listening to him, and seeing the intent with which a mostly white, small town American crowd listened to him, I said to myself, he’s right, this isn’t about race. It’s about restoring fundamental American principles through change. Which if you think about it, is a truly bipartisan message. It’s fighting terrorism and saving the environment at the same time.
This man can win if he somehow manages to speak live to a majority of the voting population. I wish the impact he had on me Tuesday night was something that could be translated through network TV or YouTube, but it hadn’t until I saw him in the flesh. He’s confident and you can tell he believes in his message and the goodness in people. What I saw that was most interesting Tuesday night on the square was something I have not seen in other candidates, whether it was Clinton (Bill), Bush or Kerry. It took me a while to nail it - he believes in himself.
Check out Obama’s Iowa tour on his Flickr site