On the eve of Super Tuesday, eager Bostonians stuffed themselves into crowded Silver Line buses. They followed signs held by Barack Obama volunteers titled “This way for change” to a long, winding line outside the Seaport World Trade Center.
Thousands came to Senator Barack H. Obama’s “Stand for Change” rally, held last night at the World Trade Center, many college-age. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Senator John F. Kerry, and Governor Deval L. Patrick, all of whom have endorsed Obama, made appearances at the event.
Attendees came from all around Boston to the rally, which began at 8 p.m. with speeches from state and local political figures. Obama himself did not take the stage until 11 p.m.
When Obama spoke, two words came up most often: “change” and “belief.” Trying to dismiss concerns of those who believe he is naïve, Obama said “hope is not ignorance.” Obama also took a quick jab at other candidates who are now running with his message: “this change thing is catching on, because now everyone is talking about change.”
On the eve of the Massachusetts primary, Obama spoke carefully, minimizing direct criticism of his chief opponent, Senator Hillary R. Clinton.
Instead, Obama tried to reinforce his own message among undecided voters who might harbor last-minute doubts about his campaign.
Obama has served in the U.S. Senate for only three years, and he served in the Illinois Senate for eight years — a shorter political tenure than Clinton can claim. Kerry said of this relative inexperience that “experience is not defined by time in Washington.” It is defined, he said, “by wisdom, instinct, gut, and courage.”
Obama also tried to address concerns that his caution, when applied to working as America’s commander in chief, would endanger the country. “I will keep you safe,” he said. He added that “I won’t hesitate to strike [against enemies]” if necessary.
And Obama emphasized his desire to be a bipartisan leader, attracting the support of both Democrats and Republicans. “I’m changing registrations,” he said.
Kerry mentioned the world’s opinion of Obama as one of Obama’s strengths. He said “this man [Obama] is being watched by the world.”
While there were few attacks on the Clinton campaign last night, there were plenty of digs at the Bush administration. Obama called the war in Iraq a “recruitment tool” for Al-Qaida.
In a humorous aside, Obama talked about discovering that he was related to Dick Cheney. “That was embarrassing,” he said. “You know, when they do these genealogical surveys, you’re hoping that you’re related to someone cool.”
Perhaps as important as Obama’s speech was his supporters.
Andrew Saperstone, a freshman Marketing and Communications major at Emerson College, attended the rally “hoping to solidify some things.” He said he was leaning towards Obama, but was still undecided between Obama and Clinton. He liked the fact that Obama “gets everyone riled up.” But, he said, Obama “can come off as pretentious.”
Miriam Quintal, a Harvard graduate student in chemistry, had already decided on Obama. She said that the “issues are important,” but “the judgment and inspiration of Obama” won her over.
Tess Hetzel, 49, of Somerville had also decided on Obama. She said bipartisanship was her top deciding factor: “I’m tired of seeing nothing done in Washington.”
“He’s the only one who can pull the two sides together,” she said.