I just watched Ted Kennedy's endorsement speech of Barack Obama from TAP's warm conference room after Ezra and I -- along with about 100 other journalists -- were turned away from the Obama rally's press entrance after waiting an hour outside in the cold. It was an utter mad scene. Eminences such as David Brooks and Time magazine's Karen Tumulty were shuttled inside, past a mob of increasingly desperate journos from CNN, NBC, and small outlets like TAP. A few reporters had brought along their children -- on a school day no less! -- to participate in what actually felt (not to gush or anything) like a truly symbolic, historic event: The highest profile members of the Kennedy family turning out to name Obama as the successor to JFK's brand of transcendent Democratic politics.
Kennedy's speech today was much longer than Obama's, and was so energetic -- a far cry from the still witty, but elderly-seeming Senator I've seen so many times on Capitol Hill. Kennedy focused on Obama's ability to channel JFK-levels of inspiration and use good judgment on foreign policy and other issues. And he got big applause for co-opting Hillary Clinton's tag line with a huge, teasing smile on his face: "I know he will be ready on day one!" Kennedy shouted, shooting Obama a thumbs-up sign. Kennedy must have been thinking, "Muster all you've got -- this could be your last big speech."
Obama responded by saying that the program that brought his Kenyan father to the United States to study had been supported by President Kennedy, a touching story that hasn't been trotted out before.
Check out some photos from the event:
Here I am, in good spirits after we gave up on being admitted to the rally. Note the hope-mongers behind me, who are still pressing up to the door, arguing with the security guards: "No, I'm from CNN! You don't understand!"
Hordes of AU students were also turned away -- the rumor was some kids had camped outside the arena since last night.
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