Obama Rallies Support In Boston

This story was written by Vidya B Viswanathan, Harvard Crimson
To the tune of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change," an estimated 2,100 people waited for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to ascend the stage at "Countdown to Change" in Boston Sunday night.

The campaign event was publicized at Harvard through the efforts of Jason Q. Berkenfeld '11, a volunteer in the Harvard Students for Barack Obama group.

Turnout by Harvard undergraduates appeared to be relatively low, though Berkenfeld said he was unsure how many were in attendance. Berkenfeld said he thinks the snow and the timing of the event may have deterred some from attending.

"Sunday night, at 7:00 -- that's prime Lamont time," he added.

At the event, Obama interspersed jokes with serious rhetoric, drawing both thunderous laughter and applause.

"A year from now all of you will go to polling places," he said. "Here is the good news: the name George W. Bush will not be on the ballot." To laughter, he added, "the name of my cousin, Dick Cheney, will not be on the ballot."

The vice president and Obama are eighth cousins.

Obama, Illinois' junior senator, addressed the audience on the hot-button issues of healthcare, education, and Iraq. He said he plans to pay teachers more money, make college more affordable, and invest to close the achievement gap in education.

Though Obama never directly mentioned opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)'s name, his rhetoric echoed many of the complaints launched against her.

"I'm tired of seeing Democrats think that the only way to act tough on national security is to act tough and vote like George Bush Republicans," he said. "My opponent won't be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq because I didn't."

Some Harvard students attending the event were still unsure which candidate they supported.

"I don't agree with some of his economic policy, and I think it sometimes shows his inexperience," Alexander S. Thompson '11 said.

But other attendees expressed clear support for the candidate.

Lisa R. Markland, a resident of Dorchester, called Obama a candidate for all people.

"It's not to do with the color of his skin or Hillary's skin, it's more to do about the issues," she said.

A black volunteer said that Obama gave her children hope that they too could be president. "He's more than just 50 Cent and Jay-Z," her son said.

Though Obama has been lagging behind Clinton in the polls, he has overtaken her in the latest Iowa poll. Berkenfeld said that Obama won the Harvard College Democrats' straw poll at their convention.
© 2007 Harvard Crimson via U-WIRE