This event made St. Paul the epicenter of the political world for the night. It had the feeling of a rock concert. Outside were Obama vendors hawking mechandise for a cheap, quick buck. Some lured in customers with Vikings colored Obama hats. One guy in line made it a mile before he caved in and bought a t-shirt. “Why not,” he said. There were drums being played on the sidewalk by middle school students, a few college kids were spreading the word about an upcoming protest and a few anti-abortion advocates stood with signs on the sidewalk looking somewhat lost amidst the cheerful crew of self-proclaimed hopemongers.
As Obama, wearing his customary sky blue tie, and his wife Michelle, decked out in pearls and a mixed-berry-Skittles-colored dress, walked out onto stage the Xcel Center went beserk. A few girls in the upper decks flayed and screamed like Beatles groupies from the '60s while grown men in Wild jerseys whooped it up as though Boogaard just pummeled some shmuck to the boards. The place was loud--like "two seconds to go in the fourth, down by a touchdown and on the three yard line ready to score" loud. That's how loud it was…
A throng of well-wishers welcomed Barack Obama. More photos by Tony Nelson in the slideshow.
Amidst this commotion, Michelle gave Barack the most endearing fist bump ever bumped in the history of fists. It was a smile and a bump that connected lightly. Immediately after the bump her fist changed into a thumbs-up and for a few seconds it was just Barack and Michelle and that's it. All of Xcel, St. Paul, Minnesota, the U.S. and the world disappeared. It was the single most beautiful thing of the night. And it happened quick. Michelle then walked off the stage to let Barack do his thing. Flash bulbs started flickering around the center like fireflies illuminating a hay field at dusk. Everyone wanted to preserve the moment, while at the same time, live it… including Barack. This night was his chance to savor a victory and put his feet in the water of what will be the next five months.
His speech was a test run of what he'll try to use in the next five months. Time Magazine gave a decent synopsis of it. Or you can watch it yourself in the YouTube embed at the bottom of this post.
As he capped his speech with the requisite "God. Bless. The USA." Michelle came back on to join him. At this point, the majority of cable news providers switched away from the speech to assess the words and provide commentary. But back inside the Xcel, Barack and Michelle continued to hang around, shaking hands and giving hugs to folks who pushed their way up near the stage. The two moved slowly about the crowd, taking their time to small-talk with Minnesota folks who appeared enamored, and breathless to see the pair up close.
And for those who didn't get through security before the Obamas took the stage, don't worry about it. Pundits are considering us a battleground state, so he'll be back visiting the great white north soon enough. And if he has his way, he’ll be in complete control.