Hillary Clinton in Oakland, CA
Yesterday evening, Hillary Clinton hosted a "block party" in Oakland, CA. I heard about it through a friend - so my wife and I decided to go take a look.
The most surprising thing to me was the crowd (a couple of photos showing portions of the crowd are below the fold). I would imagine Sen. Barack Obama probably draws bigger crowds, but I was somewhat taken aback by the number of people that showed up. Someone who was making announcements claimed that the crowd was around 14,000 (this San Jose Mercury News article mentions a figure of 13,000, which, according to the article is a little bigger than the crowd that Obama evidently attracted in Oakland several months ago). I have no way of knowing what the actual size of the crowd was and we can assume that most campaigns probably exaggerate crowd sizes a bit. But even taking that into account, I guess I was pleasantly surprised to see the crowd and long lines. The crowd was reasonably diverse but seemed to be dominated by young to middle-aged men and women - of course, there were quite a few young women in the crowd. Many parents had also brought their young kids along. One other interesting note about the crowd - even though African Americans constitute a greater percentage of the population in Oakland than Whites, the crowd seemed to have more Whites than African Americans.
This was the first time I attended a campaign appearance by any politician - so it was interesting to see how things were managed and how people reacted. Gavin Newsom (D), Mayor of San Francisco, whom Hillary initially referred to as Governor and then corrected herself and joked that it was Newsom who asked her to refer to him as Governor, fired up the crowd. He's a guy worth watching. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and California State Senator and Senate President Don Perata (D) were part of the group that introduced Sen. Clinton.
The predominant part of the "block party" comprised of musical performances, including a wonderful performance by a local gospel music choir. Sen. Clinton spoke towards the end. She hit all the expected notes. Healthcare for all Americans, ending cronyism and corruption in Government, addressing global warming and growing the economy through investment in alternative energy sources, bringing the troops home from Iraq and so on (Note: this is not the order in which she discussed these issues - if I remember right she started with Iraq). I thought she was very comfortable in her skin and spoke well (this was the first time I saw her delivering a speech live) - she got quite a bit of applause at many points as she spoke. One interesting point in her speech - she made a strong statement to the effect that we need to stop outsourcing our national security to companies like Blackwater.
I know some in the netroots have deep misgivings about Sen. Clinton, but none of that was evident amongst the large crowd that was in Oakland yesterday (maybe this is one of the reasons). From what I could tell as an observer, people generally seemed passionate about her candidacy and about her as a leader. I would have personally preferred that she was introduced not by Sen. Dianne Feinstein but by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). I guess I was annoyed when Feinstein, while going through a list of what a Presidency under Hillary Clinton would mean, listed the appointment of mainstream judges as one of the reasons to support Clinton. This is likely a true statement, but I was wondering how Feinstein herself could talk about mainstream judges after her disgraceful and egregious support of Leslie Southwick. In fact, staunchly anti-war Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) was one of the dignitaries on stage supporting Sen. Clinton and I can't imagine Congresswoman Lee was thrilled to see Feinstein talk about mainstream judges either.
All in all, it was an interesting experience. A few photos below the fold. This brief CBS story has some videos from the event.