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‘The fierce urgency of now’ at yesterday’s Jersey City Obama rally

Live from Jersey City… yesterday!

Here’s a joke overheard last night.

“With these genealogical surveys, you’re hoping you’ll be related to somebody cool, like, say George Washington or Willie Mays. But Dick Cheney—that was a real let down.”

Looking lean and tired, Barack Obama was playing the crowd for laughs. And some 2000 or so supporters in the St. Peter’s College gym in Jersey City, NJ, laughed. Middle-age women climbed barricades and leaned to look between the legs of reporters, to get a glimpse of their rock star, more Bono or Bowie than some Midwest politico stumping as usual. It was hard to imagine Hillary’s fans whispering and pointing and cooing and craning in quite the same way.

Obama kept his supporters waiting an hour beyond his scheduled speech time of 3:45 because, he said, he wanted to shake hands outside with all those who couldn’t make it in. The mostly black, professional, 30-something crowd—peppered with Catholic schoolgirls from St. Dominic’s nearby and baby-wearing Hoboken dads—had indeed been standing around for hours. Some had traveled from the Bronx and Connecticut.

Heard in the crowd:
“If it’s Edwards or Clinton, I’m voting for Ron Paul.”
“The baby boomers messed it all up: they grew their hair, cut it, then said it’s all about me. We have to fix it now.”
“If Bush could be the president, anybody could do it.”

Finally, at 4:15, the last hundred or so to get in, got in.

The rally playlist:
Lovely Day, Bill Withers
Got to Give it Up, Marvin Gaye
No One, Alicia Keys
Dancing in September, Earth, Wind and Fire
Better Way, Ben Harper

Then a belted out Star Spangled Banner, and cheers, and the man himself took the stage.

“I’m running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now. There’s such a thing as being too late and that hour is upon us. The nation is at war, the planet is in peril.”

You tell it, from the crowd.

“I know one of the reasons we have such a big crowd is you know the name George W. Bush won’t be on the ballot in the fall.”

Roars, cheers. “Obama, Obama.”

It was 5 o’clock and time to go live on the local news.

Carly Berwick is a contributor to The Next American City

Tags: barack obamanew jerseyjersey city