...While Obama sets up shop nearby
October 1, 2007 6:27 PM
Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) launched his Northern California headquarters within a stone’s throw of Hillary Clinton’s first major California campaign stop on Sunday, but the similarities didn’t end there.
While Obama's supporters dropped by the new operation 436 14th Street to tout their candidate, the senator was actually on the other side of the country, campaigning in South Carolina.
“We need a president that understands,” said Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks, “(Who) hasn’t rehearsed the role their whole life.”
Although Obama merchandise was up for sale, Obama’s supporters made it clear that the event was not a fundraiser -- it was just about drumming up more support for the candidate and celebrating.
The opening of this office makes Obama the first candidate to establish a permanent headquarters outside of the first four primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, according to Obama campaign volunteer Guillermo Elenes, 30.
“There’s a lot of support from this community,” Buffy Wicks, California Field Director for the Obama campaign, said. “This community represents the best of this country and Barack Obama really speaks to this community.”
Wicks described the office as a “hub of grassroots action,” a place to train future leaders. expects a large student contingent.
“It’s small but it taps into the real multicultural and multiracial feel,” supporter Amanda Morrison, 32, said. “It taps into the heart of Oakland.”
The facility is intended to be a community service organization, a place of learning for young students and Obama’s central command center when he’s in Northern California, Elenes said.
“We’re here as outreach to work with the community,” Elenes said “this is a community involvement event. A grass root movement.”
Several hundred people attended Obama’s event and many seemed to have mistook the red, white and blue balloon arches for Clinton’s 14,000-strong rally.
Others came to listen to the hip-hop group Blackalicious and a former member of hit R&B group Tony! Toni! Tone!, D’wayne Wiggins.
The music and chaos attracted Mario Garcia, 27, who was in the area for Hillary Clinton’s rally.
It’s important to have “somebody new” and any change in administration, Clinton-supporter Garcia said. “Even though he seems a little inexperienced, he seems like an honest and decent man.”
The list of staunch supporters included 21-year-old Natalie Rojas, a University of California, Santa Cruz student who said “Obama has consistently taken a stance against the Iraq War since 2002.”
Obama and Clinton are both well-received with their promises of ending the presence of US Military in Iraq.
“I definitely think we need a change in the White House,” Tara Lee, 30, said. “He’s been outspoken against (the Iraq War) since the beginning.”
“I will more enthusiastically support Obama,” Morrison said, but she added that she would support any Democratic candidate.
Laid out on the sidewalk were dozens of shirts with Obama’s likeness or hats embroidered with “Obama Mama”, “Obama’s Homeboy”, and even “Obamagasm.”
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