Crowds seeking to ‘experience the enthusiasm’ of Obama, Clinton in downtown rally
They didn’t come looking for answers to the questions of how or when or if President Obama would lower unemployment, bring home the troops or fix education.
They didn’t come to hear about hope and change and history being made.
They came to downtown Concord yesterday for Obama’s rally with former President Bill Clinton to be in the presence of two presidents, and each other.
Andy Stone of Hopkinton said he’s probably – probably – going to vote for Obama tomorrow. He got up before dawn, dressed his three children, all under age 8, in layers of fleece and mittens, rode a bus from Hazen Drive to downtown and stepped through metal detectors on School Street, so they could see two presidents.
“I think Obama has done a reasonable job, and I don’t like Romney, really,” he said.
Seven-year-old Abby Stone gave a raspberry and a thumbs-down when asked her opinion of the event.
Shrugging, Stone said he went through all the trouble, “for the experience.”
With a fire marshal’s estimate that 14,000 people filled North State Street from Park to School streets, they weren’t alone.
“I want to experience the enthusiasm,” said Jeannie Johnson, a high school teacher from Pembroke attending with friend Marie Brezosky, both at their first ever political rally.
After the speeches and the cheers, they reflected on the day.
“I thought it was overwhelming, the number of people,” Brezosky said.
An undeclared voter, she said she voted for John McCain in 2008 but decided several months ago to support Obama.
Her decision was less out of enthusiasm for Obama, she said, and more because “I’m just not comfortable with what I hear from governor Romney, particularly on women’s issues.”
Clinton was a big draw for Brenda LaFrance, who drove from Alfred, Maine, with her three teenage daughters for the event. Clinton is the biggest advertisement she uses when promoting Obama to undecided voters, she said.
“It’s a no-brainer for me, but what I’ve heard from people is they’re not sure yet,” she said.
“I said, ‘Do you remember Bill Clinton? Did you like Bill Clinton? Well, Bill Clinton loves Obama. Does that do it for you?’ ”
A cluster of young men in their 20s said they made up their minds a long time ago and came down to New Hampshire from Montreal to volunteer for the Obama campaign for the past two weeks.
“We are progressive up north, and we want a progressive in the south,” Dominique Noel said. “With Obama, we have had good relations, good foreign policy.”
“There would be a huge impact on us of the election, and we looked at Romney, we tried to see where he stands on issues and we can’t,” Jason Potvin said.
Bill Gray of Lowell, Mass., said he knows where Romney stands after his term as governor.
“We were just a stepping stone to him,” Gray said. “If Romney takes over it’s going to be bad for working people, for the unions, for everyone. The country is so divided, people have to wake up and see.”
Melinda St. Cyr of Franklin, like Brezosky and others, said her decision to support Obama was equal parts enthusiasm for him, and trepidation about Romney.
“I’m thrilled to have Obama in office for the past four years. But also, some things governor Romney stands for really scare me, for my children. He didn’t support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his flip-flop on women’s rights and the right to birth control. I have a daughter,” she said.
St. Cyr, pregnant with her third child, due in February, was also attending her first political rally ever. Leaning against the metal fencing after the rally, she said standing in the crowd for more than five hours made her start having minor contractions at points.
“It was well worth it, being around all the positive energy,” she said. “Hearing them in person was just something we haven’t heard from anywhere before. I didn’t come with piles of expectations. I just wanted to hear them for myself.”
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)