Oakland rallies – Obama vs. Hillary

Hillary Clinton in OaklandBarack Obama in OaklandI went to Obama’s rally in Oakland in mid-March, and Hillary’s yesterday. I like and respect both candidates and would happily support either in the general election.The speeches were similar – you know, the Bush era needs to end, we need better governance, less cronyism, stronger alliances abroad, and a return to the culture of cooperation and fairness. Hillary plugged her health care plan since she had just announced her Health Care Choices plan a week ago.

I actually thought Hillary’s speech was better than Obama’s – strong, excellently delivered, and with a nice heart-touching anecdote at the end. Obama’s was more of his typical audacity-of-hope stuff.

Obama drew an estimated 12,000 attendees; Hillary boasted that her attendance broke records with 14,000.

But, really, the biggest difference? The audience.

Obama’s supporters were a good decade younger than Hillary’s. The average age was probably about 25. Lots of Mission (SF), Haight (SF) and Berkeley types, skewed towards the younger, everyone brimming with optimism. Obama’s crowd was probably half black too.

Hillary’s were far more Adams Point (Oakland), Noe Valley (SF) and Walnut Creek – mid-30s to mid-40s with a smattering of college-age volunteers that were all about the business. People were pragmatic on the side of cranky – at one point, one of the announcers asked if we wanted to hear another song from the Glide Memorial choir, and more than a few yelled back, “No!” They were there to see Hillary goddammit and that’s final! The crowd was much more white, too, with only maybe 10% black supporters, and more Asian and Indian families than I remembered in Obama’s rally.

This might reflect the different stages of the campaign – Obama’s speech, 6 months ago, was far earlier in the campaign. Now we’re, believe it or not, closing in on primary season.

And maybe it’s my age or relative level of cynicism (I prefer to call it realism), but I felt more comfortable with the Hillary crowd. I liked her message a bit more. It felt more real, more direct, less nebulous and more finely crafted. More pragmatic. Like her audience.

Obama’s, on the other hand, gave his audience what they were apparently hungering for–optimism, vaguely-worded, and criticism of the Bush administration. The audience generally ate it up. I was a bit skeptical. In the months following, he’s come out with more details about what his policy would entail.

But it still feels like Hillary’s policy is more solid (at least her health care plan, which includes individual mandate while Barack’s does not), she’s more self-assured, and that she’s ready to hit the ground running as her campaign stresses. She’s also a career politician, which is not always a negative. Bill Clinton was too and he was a remarkably talented president.

Nice writeup at the Oakland Tribune.

Aside: Hillary’s attendees (from about 5pm onward, when I got in):

  • SF mayor Gavin Newsom (Hillary mistakenly (?) referred to him as Governor Gavin Newsom at one point)
  • D’wayne Wiggins (from Oakland-based Tony! Toni! Tone!)
  • Nya Jade
  • Cecil Williams and the Glide Memorial Church Choir
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • CA state senator Don Perata
  • Congresswoman Barbara Lee
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  1. I’m so disconnected from them both.. if I didn’t live in the US when Bill was pres.. I wouldn’t have a clue about Hilary either.. I think I gave up on US politics when I left. Just lost faith, totally….

    Comment by isabella snow — October 1, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  2. You’re not missing a whole lot, Isabella! šŸ˜‰

    Comment by JM — October 2, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

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