Yesterday afternoon, we went to our first campaign event with the Barack Obama campaign, to see none other than the First Lady, Michelle!
Most observers agree that Michelle is the best surrogate for her husband – she is warm, personal and funny. And boy does she get the crowd going! The last time I heard this chant, it was the day after Bush won in 2004 on the TV. Feels a lot better this time round.
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The key campaign messages ran through the speech, as you’d expect: moving forward, not a return to the past; the difficult place the country was in before the Obamas entered the White House; the achievements in foreign, social and economic policy of the past three and a half years.
Most of all she was personal. This stump speech was very much derived from her successful DNC speech. The personal struggles the Obamas went through, the reasons she fell in love with her husband, and the glimpses into the White House struggles (as both parents and leaders) were all there.
The part that I thought was most powerful was near the end. Michelle’s voice cracked as she returned to the watchword of the 2008 campaign:
…in the end, that’s what this is all about… elections are always about hope. The hope that I saw in my dad’s beaming face as I crossed the stage to get my college diploma. The hope Barack’s grandmother felt as she cast her ballot for the grandson she loved and raised. The hope of all those men and women in our lives who worked that extra shift, who saved and sacrificed and prayed so that we could have something more. The hope that so many of us have when we look into the eyes of our kids and our grandkids.
Of course she was there to do more than just say a few words. She was there to rally the troops, to inspire the assembled mob to go forth and win the election in this crucial battleground state.
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A final thought on the day – the organisation is incredible. From the sheer number of volunteers, to the systems in place, to the venue and staging, we were impressed by the professionalism, enthusiasm and speed at which things happened.
I will do a fuller piece on surrogates and their roles in political campaigns at a later date, but I will leave you with some of our pictures from this amazing day.