Especially in primary season, a gathering like Take Back America is all about being wooed. Conference attendees want the presidential candidates to suck up to them, to woo them, to seduce them into the voting booth by whispering sweet nothings about universal health care, ending global warming, and especially ending the war in Iraq. Tuesday was wooing day at TBA 2007.
Compared to Monday's relatively low-key affair, Tuesday had electricity. Yes, the media had arrived. There was Fox News' Carl Cameron, sashaying through the hallways looking for another liberal to mock on his "news" channel, while CNN's Candy Crowley parachuted in and after a briefing from her producer began interviewing folks on Blogger Boulevard about this whole crazy blogging thing all the kids are doing on their internet computers. I caught one of her cameramen shooting some b-roll of people blogging, which is to say the oldest cable news network in the country was recording video of a guy typing on his computer and calling it news. Such is the universe we now inhabit. Ben Smith of The Politico even was cordial with one of those intemperate types who have called him and his organization horrible shills, the intemperate one in this instance being me. Oh, and Al Sharpton was there broadcasting in media row. I can confirm that from close inspection his hair really does look as awesome as it does on tv.
The first candidate to speak was Mike Gravel, and while I think it it would have been awesome to have him do a live performance piece riffing on his nutty YouTube videos by staring silently out into the audience, he chose not to. I did learn that the person that introduced him, Ralph Nader, was booed. But shouldn't Ralph Nader always be followed by a Greek chorus of folks booing him? Somebody get the Draft Gore people working on that.
I only caught a snippet of Bill Richardson's speech, but while he somewhat justifiably went after Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama for not being bold enough in the Senate, it's hard to see him as more than a really quite well positioned vice-presidential candidate.
Lunchtime brought about the main event. The card was back to back speeches by Barack Obama and John Edwards. Outside of a debate format, you don't really see the candidates toe-to-toe like this much. I would have to credit Sen. Edwards with a valiant effort, and I would almost like to give him brownie points for having to listen to questions posed to him by the 9/11 Truthers who were posing as members of the media (don't those guys think that it's a little silly to think that the same administration that couldn't competently fire an attorney somehow faked the biggest terror attack in U.S. history?). But, I would have to give Sen. Obama the TKO. Edwards listed some great policy ideas and connected them expertly to each other, but for all its substance it lacked fire. In contrast, Sen. Obama, perhaps because he was in front of a more "red meat" crowd dispensed with a lot of the more conciliatory talk that might serve one well in a general election, in favor of a more partisan contrast between the clear failures of the Republican-led government and the functioning government offered by a Democrat like him. Judging by the audience reaction, how engaged they were, Obama was a clear winner.
That's all well and good, but you can hear the rumbling off in the distance. It's a juggernaut of untold proportions rising up over the horizon. Wednesday will be Hillary's day.