This photo comes via the big Barack Obama rally in New York last night. His staff had a scissors lift (a.k.a. a cherry-picker) and was taking photographers -- and, by the end of the evening, print reporters as well -- up in it to get crowd shots. Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said 22,758 people registered online to attend the rally in Manhattan's Washington Square Park, right across the street from New York University, though it's impossible to know how many of them showed up. It was a very big rally, that's for sure.
Obama took the stage to the strains of Kanye West's "Touch the Sky" (a number of us political press dorks were uncertain of this, but -- love the New York press corps -- I confirmed it with a nearby reporter from Vibe Vixen) and left to the beat of Yellowcard's "Believe," which later Googling revealed is a 9-11 tribute song.
Obama's staff appears to have chosen the date, time, and site of the rally to conveniently coincide with both the Clinton Global Initiative here in New York and John Edwards' evening appearance on MTV in a Q & A session with MTV viewers and MySpace readers. The deeper reason for being in New York, of course, is that it has a lot of delegates and distributes them proportionately, and so, in a protracted nomination fight, could add to Obama's total even if Hillary Clinton wins her home state, as she is expected to do. It's coming up on the end of the quarter, as well, and Obama's large rallies have tended to serve as pretty effective low-dollar fundraisers, thanks to the dozens of official campaign T-shirt hawkers one finds at them. Heck -- within an hour of leaving the rally I received an Obama mobile text-message reminding me to buy a T-shirt , in case I had not done so at the rally, and giving me a 20 percent off discount code to do so.
The rally was clearly targeted toward the MTV demographic, from the choice of location right near a university to a special pre-show guest appearance by 25-year-old Chinese-American rapper Jin, who warmed up the crowd with his "Open Letter to Obama," perhaps the only hip-hop song ever written that name-checks Jack Abramoff.
Obama opened with some jokes about having lived in New York, which draw giggles from the crowd. "I used to hang out in Washington Square Park," he said, before giving his mic a quizzical look. "I know a little something about Greenwich Village. I was going to say I know some of the bars around here but I think my communications director was trying to cut that off."
He then went into his standard stump speech, with slightly more digs at Clinton than usual, and the first dig at Bill Richardson I've heard anyone bother to make (reciting a litany of people who tell voters false things, Obama said: "there are those who will tell you getting out of Iraq is painless").
After the speech, Obama's Echo Boom followers streamed out of the park, their faces beatific with the glow of political first love.