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Obama wows 'em in San Fran

The heavy hitters among California Democrats were noticeably absent from an appearance Friday by Barack Obama in San Francisco --- most have long since signed on with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race.

Still, more than 1,000 folks joined him at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for the unveiling of California Women for Obama (co-chaired by San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris and Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick, who got the chance to be the biggest-name state pols on hand). And the crowd apparently got to see vintage Obama.

The Times' Mark Z. Barabak was there and reports that the Illinois senator --- who at times this summer has lost his groove on the grueling campaign circuit --- delivered his remarks in fiery, passionate fashion. He had his audience frequently roaring, and he responded in kind, shouting out his lines to make sure he was heard over the din.

He spent much of his time lambasting what he termed derisively, and to his listeners' delight, the "Bush-Cheney-Gonzales-Rove administration." But he also clearly had his eye on the more immediate challenge he faces. ...

"There are those who tout their experience working the system in Washington," he said, without needing to spell out that he had a certain first lady-turned-senator from New York in mind. "I understand that, but the system in Washington isn't working for us. And it hasn't been working for us for a very long time."

It was Clinton herself who delivered this softball that we can expect Obama to keep blasting out of the park --- and perhaps, in the process, stem what many in the party see as her inexorable march to the Democratic nomination. Over the Labor Day weekend, in a much-noted tweak to her message, she delivered a stump speech that seemed better suited for the fall of next year --- and a general election campaign --- than the audience that the campaigns are targeting right now. (Sample line from the Clinton address: ''I want to work within the system. You can't pretend the system doesn't exist.'')

The Democrats who show up for the primaries and, most especially, the Iowa caucus, tend to vote their aspirations, hopes, dreams, etc. The idea of going to Washington and working with the Republicans to get things done may be sound public policy --- and reflective of the reality that will face any Democrat who would occupy the White House. But it’s not likely to make many partisan hearts go pitter-pat.

Obama on Saturday will be raking in oodles of cash at what may be the political season's highest-profile fundraiser: the little get-together Oprah Winfrey is hosting for him at her vacation home in Montecito, near Santa Barbara. But Friday's event also was designed to add to Obama's already-bulging campaign coffers.

Those sitting on the auditorium's main floor paid $250 each for their seats. (They also got a box lunch ---sandwich, fruit and water bottle. And, in a classic San Francisco touch, signs on the walls at exits apologized for the plastic and asked folks to recycle.)

Balcony seating was available for $25 (sans meal).

-- Don Frederick

 
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"The idea of going to Washington and working with the Republicans to get things done may be sound public policy --- and reflective of the reality that will face any Democrat who would occupy the White House. But it’s not likely to make many partisan hearts go pitter-pat."


But that is EXACTLY what Obama has been doing with his post-partisan campaign to date. That is one of the main reasons Obama is in trouble with rank-and-file Democrats and why he has not gained traction, in fact, has fallen in some disfavor with many, many Democrats. I don't think Clinton's comments on Labor Day come anywhere near to approaching the constant bi-partisan noises Obama has been making. And, that is why his campaign and candidacy have not been making Democrats' hearts go pitter-pat.

Why is the L.A. Times always speaking of Obama's campaign in such condescending ways?

You say:

"He spent much of his time lambasting what he termed derisively, and to his listeners' delight, the "Bush-Cheney-Gonzales-Rove administration."

Actually, that is not accurate. This criticism did not take up a significant portion of his speech - his overall message of hope and transformation did.

You also fail to mention that his ultimate point regarding the current administration was that the divisiveness of the Bush years, while unusually sharp, was not a new phenomenon. From that, he made the segue into his "change" theme.

Furthermore, I submit to you that the "heavy hitters" of the Democratic party may not have been there perhaps because some of them were busy getting ready to drive off to Oprah's house for a certain soiree. Others are in Washington. Yes, the political establishment supports Hillary, but the establishment as a whole has many faces.

You may be discarding Obama because the polls say he is up to 20 percentage points behind on some. If so, you also, at your peril, discard the fact that pollsters do not call cell phone or cable lines, and that a sizeable portion of Americans no longer use landlines - particularly the young.

And next year's primary voters will doubtless include lots of first-time voters, and these may well pick Obama. The fact that fewer-than-expected young people turned out in '04 was because Kerry was Kerry. Obama is Obama. Don't let the ghosts of the past haunt you. This is a new house.

If not even New Hampshire has opened its polling booths, why are you closing yours?

I think that I would have to agree with the Lioness. I am a first time voter myself. Not because I am young, unfortunately, but because I haven't seen someone that I thought merited my vote. Until now... After reading the article I thought that I was too late. We do have until next year eh? I guess I better go figure out what it is like to be a democrat.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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