Thanks to Primary, Racine Is Briefly Center of Attention Again
From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:
RACINE, WISC. -- Barack Obama spoke to a lively, uninhibited crowd at Racine's Memorial Hall on Lake Michigan Wednesday evening. One woman asked Obama to hug her during the Q&A session while another insisted that he pose with a t-shirt from the Racine's Horlick High School.
Obama seemed a little confused by the behavior, telling the crowd that they should ask him questions and not insist on having him perform stunts.
"Come on I'm trying to answer questions here," Obama laughed, "I'm getting t-shirts and hugs…"
One woman shouted back, "It's okay! We're in Racine, this is loving country!"
I understood the excitement and buzz that the crowd felt because I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin. How often does someone famous make a stop in Racine? Not that often. Every four years a presidential candidate may whiz by and briefly speak to voters. During the 2004 primaries, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Ralph Nader and John Edwards all visited Racine and George Bush spoke there in the general election but Obama's the first to swing through in 2008.
I remember Dan Quayle's stop in Racine in 1992. Voters flocked to see the incumbent vice president, including yours truly. I remember taking a Bush/Quayle '92 sign to the rally and having Quayle sign it. I was too young to really understand the election or party affiliations, but I was thrilled to have gotten so close to someone running for office.
Tonight, as I walked into Memorial Hall, a place where I attended many weddings and my high school winter formal dance, I saw that similar excitement. People lined up against walls to get a glimpse of Obama, they cheered as he walked in and jumped up and down. I've seen similar scenes at previous town hall meetings and rallies but I understood this crowd a little better. I understood what it meant for Racine to experience the excitement of a political campaign again.
Voters will be buzzing about Obama's visit for days in local diners and pubs, discussing the election and the candidates. For one day, this little town was the center of the presidential election. It's not surprising that Racine voters got a little too excited in the process.
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