Obama changes Medford, at least for a day or so

Obama speaking at Kids Unlimited in Medfor
Obama speaking at Kids Unlimited in Medfor

Wednesday, March 20 Southern Oregon received confirmation of a freshly-spawned rumor:
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s campaign swing would include a stop in Medford. He’d speak at a town hall style meeting at Kids Unlimited, Saturday, March 22 at 9:30 a.m.
    
Thursday morning frantic callers jammed the phone lines at Jackson County Democratic headquarters seeking information on getting tickets.
Foot traffic at that office met apologetic shrugs from volunteers. "We’re just finding out about it ourselves. This event isn’t being handled by us, but by the Obama Campaign."


Then a helpful woman proffered a page from their printer bearing a web
address which would help those seeking admission to the meeting.
   
Within
an hour, all available tickets had been given out, according to
campaign staff. The building chosen was reconfigured to seat 2,500
instead of the originally planned 1,500. A waiting list was also
established. Still, any venue in Southern Oregon would have been
inadequate to accommodate the thousands of disappointed applicants who
were turned away.
   
On the day of the meeting, stalwart
souls camped out in frigid temperatures as they hoped to manage tickets
unclaimed by no-shows. Lines of people wrapped around several blocks.
Obama election team members took the opportunity to ask people in the
lines if they would sign up to help  promote the senator’s candidacy.
Although the doors were expected to open at 7:30 a.m., by 7 o’clock the
police had the streets blocked off with orange cones.
Parking spaces had quickly filled up.
   
Rogue
Valley residents served a surprising, tacit, yet clear message to the
pundits. They could scrap their stereotypes, demographics, statistics,
numbers, and calendars. This predominately "W.A.S.P.ish" 
under-employed, underpaid, population had become enthralled with a
dynamic new leader. The once-ignored State of Oregon’s delegates ceased
being insignificant.
   
In some ways, Obama’s super stardom
surpasses that of rock legends. In the audiences of this senator’s
meetings sit youth-typically those who’ve  cared little about politics.
Also mid-lifers, and silver-haired elders.  Four Ashland high school
students, below voting age, responded to questions regarding what it is
about the candidate that appeals to them. "Everyone’s so similar,
replied Maia Sakradse. Finally we have somebody who’s thinking
differently. It’s refreshing."
   
Tim Borgerson had read, "The
Audacity of Hope," the book Obama authored.  "I like his ideas on how
we can change the political system for the better," the student said.
"Of all the candidates, he’s taken the high ground." Borgerson said
that he got tickets by going on the internet exactly at the right time.

   
Also too young to vote, a teen named Tanager, registered others who could vote. That was her High School senior project.
   
At 17, Tim Harper hopes to vote in November’s election, but will still miss the primary.
   
Obama’s
town hall meeting began with presentation of the colors, and the
audience’s pledge to the flag. The guest of honor arrived to prolonged
cheers, from the crowd on its feet. He then  introduced General McPeek,
a veteran who decried the tactics of Obama’s main competitor.
   
The
man McPeek then introduced as the "Future Commander-in-Chief" spoke of
his disappointment with current political leadership. Most  of his
sentences bemoaning inferior education, economic, and environmental met
with polite applause. But when he said, "We can’t wait to bring the war
in Iraq to a close," another prolonged, standing ovation underscored
his followers’ sentiments. They made it obvious: Obama’s audiences love
him. 
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent

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