(Omaha World Herald) Illinois Sen. Barack Obama told cheering Nebraska supporters Thursday that Americans are demanding change now.
Sen. Barack Obama addresses the crowd at the Civic Auditorium. "We can't wait to fix our health care system, we cannot wait to fix our schools . . . we cannot wait to bring this war in Iraq to a close," Obama said. "We cannot wait."
Bringing his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to the Civic Auditorium, where some in his audience had waited since morning, Obama said voters share that sense of urgency.
"Everywhere I go, the American people tell me that the time for change has come," he said.
Obama is seeking the 24 national convention delegates at stake Saturday in the Nebraska Democratic Party's first-ever caucuses.
Talking about earlier contests, Obama said he's even won support from some Republicans and noted the reports that younger voters across the country had been turning out to back him.
"Everywhere we go, we've seen these enormous crowds, this enormous enthusiasm. . . . I would like to take all the credit for this." But Obama said some of that credit may go to the incumbent president.
"No matter what else happens, the name George W. Bush will not be on the ballot - and that makes everybody excited," he said.
Before Obama addressed the Omaha crowd, he picked up an endorsement from across the Missouri River. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, whose state held the nation's first caucuses Jan. 3, joined the senator on the stage.
"Not since John Kennedy has a politician had the ability to inspire Americans regardless of who they are or where they come from," Culver said.
Obama was an hour late, but the overflow crowd didn't seem to mind.
They roared when Obama took the stage. They roared when he said, simply: "Cornhusker" or "Go Red."
And they roared when he talked about his campaign theme that it's time for change.
"When I decided to run, I was certain that the American people were hungry for something different," he said.
"They wanted a politics that wasn't about tearing people down, but about building the country up. The people didn't want ideology. They wanted practicality and common sense," Obama said.
Obama was introduced by Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who compared Obama's visit to that of Robert Kennedy in 1968. (read the rest)
Sounds like Obama's typical stump speech - one which I heard in front of a much smaller crowd just one month ago. I don't think the Omaha Civic Auditorium had seen that many people come through its doors in nearly a decade (9,000 showed up and many were turned away).
I did hit the Bright Eyes rally later that night at The Slowdown. There were no appearances from Obama or any of his top surrogates. We had to settle for Jim Esch, who ran - and lost - for a seat in Congress in 2006. The event might have been light in terms of political players, but offered plenty for music fans.
I arrived right as Jim Ward (At The Drive In, Sparta) began his set. Those familiar with Ward's music might not have been prepared for his solo material. It was kind of middle of the road alt-folk. Nothing special. Bright Eyes played right after Ward, and this version of the band was stripped down to the bare essentials. The five-piece group opened the show with a rockin', electric arrangement of Conor's anti-Bush song, "When the President Talks to God." I've always thought the song was a little corny, even though I agree with the message.
After a few songs, M.Ward joined the band, and a few songs after that, Jim James (My Morning Jacket) came out as well. The rest of the night was split among mini-sets from all three artists, and the three performing together. Pretty cool - especially for a free show.
It remains to be seen how much rallies like this will help Obama. There were some boos when Jim Esch, while explaining how a caucus works, mentioned Hillary Clinton. I didn't care much for that. Save the booing for McCain, my friends.