In a countdown to today’s Super Tuesday vote, Sen. Edward Kennedy was cheered Friday by thousands of Barack Obama supporters, who had queued up for blocks along Telegraph Avenue and crowded into the pews and aisles of Beebe Memorial Cathedral in Oakland to hear Kennedy speak on behalf of the Democratic presidential candidate.
Introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, Kennedy opened the rally, saying: “One year from today, we will be here without George Bush!”
That was just one of the dozen or more times Kennedy sent the 2,000 or so Obama supporters leaping to their feet, waving Obama signs and chanting “Obama ’08.”
Calling this “perhaps the most important election of my lifetime,” Edwards called on the crowd to get out the vote to elect “someone who will get us back to the march of progress—someone who is going to inspire this country.”
Congress is paralyzed over wiretapping and other issues, he said, contending Obama’s leadership would get Congress to address critical needs.
“We have a lot of challenges to be ready for when we get rid of George Bush, and Barack Obama is going to be ready for them. Are you going to be ready for them?” he asked.
“We’re going to do what we can to end the war, to stop the explosion of dropouts of children in our schools,” he said, calling for “new leadership around the world.”
Speaking before Kennedy, Rep. Barbara Lee lauded Obama’s priorities: “ending the occupation in Iraq; universal healthcare; ending poverty,” HIV-Aids civil rights and more, Lee said.
“There is only one senator in this race who was opposing this war from the start and that is Senator Obama,” Lee said, with a subtle jab at Clinton who has come out more recently against the war. “He is the candidate that is the real agent for change in this race …. I’m inspired about his ability to inspire young people to activists.”
Lee had skipped the noon rally on the UC Berkeley campus where she was also scheduled to speak for Obama. Instead, Christopher Edley, Jr., dean of Boalt Law School, who had been Obama’s law professor at Harvard, rallied the 250 students that gathered there to listen to the speakers and hip hop artists.
Clinton intern Kate Lewis was at a table supporting Hillary Clinton nearby the campus rally. “There’s really no one issue that divides Clinton and Obama completely and totally,” Lewis told the Planet. “It comes down to who can make the change happen, who can clean up after the Bush administration. I believe Hillary Clinton has shown she can make that change happen.”
While Obama surrogates spoke all over California, Hillary Clinton came herself to speak in San Jose and San Francisco on Friday.
According to Bay City News, Clinton addressed a crowd of about 2,300 people at the Orpheum Theater on Market Street, with her supporters cheering wildly when Clinton called the role of U.S. president “the hardest job in the world ... even harder following [President George] Bush and [Vice President Dick] Cheney.”
Clinton stressed her experience: “I can make those tough decisions. I can lead from that very first day.”
If she’s elected U.S. soldiers in Iraq would return home immediately, and their needs, “both visible and invisible,” would be met, Clinton said.
Sen. Edward Kennedy rallies Barack Obama supporters at the Beebe Memorial Cathedral in Oakland on Friday. Photograph by Judith Scherr.