“I just want to hear what Barack’s all about,” said Kamali Thornell, 33, who brought his fiancée and his 68-year-old uncle to find out, here on an unusually warm fall night.
“Around here, we know how to come from behind and win,” said Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. “And that’s what we’re doing here tonight.”
In presenting his formal endorsement of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, Mr. Patrick urged Democrats to shake themselves from their confident slumber, declaring: “Discontent with Republicans is not enough to assure Democratic victory. Nor should it be.”
Mr. Patrick, the nation’s only African-American governor, delivered a forceful argument for why he believes Mr. Obama should be elected president. He is the third governor to endorse Mr. Obama; by contrast, five governors have signed on with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Here is a passage from Mr. Patrick’s remarks, delivered in the heart of Boston Common before a crowd of several thousand supporters:
For once, I want a campaign that’s not about the candidate, but about us.
Not about a resumé, but about character. Not about connections or convenience, but about conviction. Not about smearing the competition, but about lifting us all up. Not about the right and the left, but about right and wrong. Not about yesterday, but about tomorrow.
I don’t care whether the next president has experience in the White House. I care whether he understands life in your house.
I don’t care whether the next president has already met foreign heads of state. I care whether he knows something about how people live and think in distant cities and villages and can remember that our actions affect them, too.
I don’t care whether the next president is the first black president or the first woman president or the first whatever, to tell you the truth. I care that the next president has moral courage, a political backbone, the humility to admit what he doesn’t know, and the wisdom to learn from others.
It is impossible, of course, to place a precise value on a political endorsement. But advisers to Mr. Obama believe that the army of grassroots supporters who helped elect Mr. Patrick could be useful volunteers in neighboring New Hampshire.
As Mr. Obama spoke before a giant American flag, hanging from the columns of Parkman Bandstand, the large crowd spread across the sprawling grounds of Boston Common.
Barun Singh, 24, who runs his own Web development company said that he decided to support Mr. Obama once he was sure Al Gore wasn’t getting into the race.
“He’s the first inspiring candidate for any higher-level public office that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Mr. Singh said. “The country has been lacking optimism for some time. That’s what people are looking for more than anything else and I think that Obama’s got it.”
For all the sign-waving enthusiasm, for all the applause and accolades, for all the celebrity buzz that Mr. Obama seemed to stir, several people in the crowd said they were still making up their minds.