Clinton has most of the New Hampshire Democratic establishment behind
her. But Obama owned the dome last night when the state party gathered
for it's annual 100 Club Dinner, NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli reports. From the
first time the Illinois senator's name was mentioned, it was clear
which campaign was feeling the momentum. To be sure, Clinton's campaign
was well represented, and received some hearty ovations of her own. But
the scene as Obama's supporters mobbed the stage in anticipation of his
speech, waving the cutout Obama "O" and chanting it's now-famous "Fired
Up" chant was the lasting image of the night. In fact, the growing
horde in front of the stage required organizers to make an announcement
asking people to return to their seats because of "safety concerns."
"We will not just win the general election, but you and I standing
together will heal this nation and repair the world and finally have an
America we can believe in again," he closed, eliciting another raucous
sign-waving and standing ovation.
As Obama began speaking, several Hillary supporters could be seen
curling up their "READY" signs and heading for the doors. Among them
were Dick Gephardt and NEA New Hampshire president Rhonda Wesolowski.
The Obama camp clearly wanted to make its presence known by having a
large number of supporters present. State party spokesperson Pia
Carusone confirmed that the Obama camp did purchase more tickets for
its supporters. But Hillary's camp said it was pleased with its show of
What about Edwards? He chose to skip the event in favor of campaigning
elsewhere. Elizabeth Edwards was on hand, but did not speak. Edwards
spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said the camp had to make a "tough
[schedule] decision to get in front of as many undecided voters" as
possible. His campaign did raise $16,000 for the party.
NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan adds that Obama hit the note he wanted to at the dinner -- conveying his "change agent" message, while defending himself against the attacks of his rivals that he's too conciliatory or inexperienced to be president. The senator appeared stern on the podium and visibly tired. The mic was too low, so he hunched over it giving the impression of a preacher pumping his fist from the pulpit. The crowd was on his side, and he frequently raised his hand to quiet them so he could continue. The last speaker of the night, Obama went well over his allotted time speaking for 29 minutes and change, essentially delivering the latest version of his new stump speech.
Meanwhile, Clinton led her appeal to New Hampshire voters last night with a new slogan -- "Ready" -- which was printed on the placards her supporters waved in the air. "Are you ready to pick a president?" she asked the audience at a Democratic dinner, recalling her closing speeches to Iowans a few days ago that included the same sort of rallying cry and call and response style. "Are you ready for universal health care, for a stronger economy?"
Clinton went on to deliver a pretty standard speech, but spent a bit more time than usual talking about how proud she was to be a Democrat, a way to highlight the past successes of her husband, the "Comeback kid" of New Hampshire in 1992. "I am proud to be a Democrat," she said. "I am proud of the progress that we made during the 1990s under last the Democrat elected twice in the United States and I know, I know we can do this again."