today larry, eva, and i went to see barack obama speak downtown. they'd originally planned to hold this in an auditorium on campus, but based on the ticket requests, the moved it outdoors. this rally was huge -- estimates range from 15,000 to nearly 22,000. here's a news story and video and photo of the crowd.
we parked at brad's and walked in from there with eva enjoying a return to the sling. the whole event was during what would have been her nap, and despite that, she was so great. she loved all the people -- especially the cheering, tossing in her own "yea!" cheers -- and even seemed pleased by the rain. she spent a lot of time up on her papa's shoulders, and when she was most tired, i ducked down below the crowd to sit and nurse her. it was really fun being there, and i think i might be coming out of my mama-cave to rejoin the political process after all. we stuck around at the end and larry got some pretty good shots with the new telephoto lens. (he says barack obama should learn not to blink while he's waving, though. ha.)
baby's first political event? not quite. eva's already joined me twice in the past month or so to go talk to state legislators, first about midwifery and then regarding two upcoming pieces of breastfeeding legislation. she was surprisingly cooperative, but it was still a bit challenging holding my train of thought while she wiggled around and jabbered away. i'd love to take her back once she's old enough to understand the political process (and old enough to sit still?), to help instill in her the idea that her participation in fact counts. oh, then if you count when she was a very new fetus, she was (technically) along for the ride when i was doing election work in 2004 -- making phone calls for travis county dems and to swing state volunteers for the kerry campaign, pounding in signs at 5 a.m. at various polling places, standing at manacha & lamar during morning rush hour with a "vote today/kerry-edwards" sign, collecting voter turnout tallies from five precincts every two hours all day. this was all just a few days into my pregnancy, but still, blastocyst eva was helping me out (which would have been news to me, of course).
it remains to be seen if obama's popularity wanes quickly or withstands the trials of the early campaign, but it's been a long time since i've seen people so excited about a candidate. nearly 22,000 in a (blue dot in a) red state over 18 months out, that's a sign that something's happening. i read today that this is the first presidental election since 1928 where neither party will be running a sitting president or vice president (what? no cheney for america '08 committees forming? no?), so it's a wide open race and should be interesting. okay, okay, not wide open as in "hey little johnny thousandaire, you could grow up to be president someday!", but wide open between about four candidates. (i count obama/clinton/mccain/guiliani at the moment -- i omit mitt (romney) because he's bugs me and edwards because i just don't see it happening, even though he was my top pick from the field of 12 dems at this point last cycle.) the early leads can be misleading, though, so we'll see. hmm, hmm, could be interesting. yes, i do think this could just pull me out of my two year spell of political apathy (self preservation for mothering, i think it was).
one last note... eva's been saying "obama" for at least a month already, because i've been reading his book while putting her to bed at night. she was saying "man" (regarding his cover photo), so i told her "that's obama". she often interrupted my reading, insisting "i look obama?" and even used the nice block letters on the cover to start pointing out the letters "A" and "O". so, she was primed for her cute trick today, walking away from the rally saying to herself, "obaaama. obaaama. obaaama..." (this is a particularly good story to preserve for posterity for eva if he does happen to become the next president.)