Indiana has the pleasure of actually mattering in this Election year. Earlier in the month, Barack Obama visited Plainfield High School. Hillary Clinton visited Ben Davis High School this past Saturday. WXNT producer Chris Spangle covered both and here are his impressions:
Both gyms are of equal size. Both Schools opened space for overflow. Senator Obama filled the entire gym and the auxillary gym used for overflow two hours before the event. Senator Clinton did not have anyone in the auditorium used for overflow. She did not fill the entire main gym. There were at least 50 seats empty out. I’d estimate that 3,000 showed up for Obama, and 2,000 for Clinton.
Both candidates brought a proportionate amount of Indianapolis’s ethnic make-up. There were members of all races, colors, creeds, and religions at these events. Economically, Obama brought more middle-class and upper-class listeners. Clinton had more working-class and union members.
Crowd Reaction: Both crowds were very enthusiastic for their candidate. Surprisingly, Hillary’s crowd cheered more intensely. Could be the building, but they were louder and more fervent. The crowd leaving Obama’s event was more positive on the Senator, and more upbeat. I heard a mixed reaction from the crowd exiting Clinton’s event. Some were inspired, some were calling B.S.
Message: Obama was more a message of hope and unity. It was meant to inspire. Hillary’s was more intellectual. The speech was mostly that the G.O.P. has left the country a disaster, and asking the crowd to remember how wonderful it was under her husband. The job will be hard, but she is the only one to fix it. Obama was more upbeat, saying that while we have problems, they aren’t anything Americans can’t overcome. I won’t say Clinton wasn’t positive, but I did have a looming sense of doom if I didn’t take her advice and elect her.
Campaign Staff: The Obama event was very structured. Press had to register online the day before. Clinton had open press. Obama had three press agents there greeting the press, helping them set up. They also had student ambassadors to keep the press in their spot, and to assist with questions about the school. The two or three hours that I was there, I didn’t meet one member of the Clinton team. No one introduced themselves or asked if I needed assistance. Now, in fairness, the Clinton Camp is doing a lot of stops in a short amount of time, which needs a lot of logistical support and planning. That could have been why there seemed to be a lack of staff wandering around.
P.S. Superdelegate Andre Carson spent a few moments with Barack Obama when he visited earlier this month. He also attended Obama’s speech. Congressman Carson was not present at Senator Clinton’s speech.