Sunday, April 6, 2008

Montana Catholic HS Kids Rally for Obama

Crowd's enthusiasm impresses veteran of Adams Center


Tribune Staff Writer
April 6, 2008

MISSOULA — Paul Donaldson is used to seeing the University of Montana's Adams Center packed with people.

Donaldson, who sets up music and sound for entertainment events there, will be working on the Elton John concert next week and has done other music events for University of Montana Productions.

But he said he has never seen a crowd quite like the one that filed the venue Saturday morning for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

"This is different," Donaldson said. "This is history, not culture."

The Adams Center's doors opened at 8 a.m., though the event didn't start until 10 a.m. However, a line began forming at midnight the night before. By the time the doors swung open, it snaked through the parking lot and around nearby campus buildings.

"I've never seen a line like that," Donaldson said. "Not even for a rock concert."
By the time the rally kicked off, the Adams Center was filled to capacity with about 8,000 people. Washington-Grizzly stadium held approximately 400 people who didn't make it into the building.

In the stadium, Obama's speech was shown on the large screen and broadcasted over the sound system.

"He's like a real superstar," Donaldson said.

Garrett Browne, 19, waited patiently in line to take his seat. He got his tickets for the free event at midnight Thursday, when they were first available.

The tickets were gone by 9:30 Thursday morning.

Browne took his place in line around 7 a.m. Saturday.

"From the get-go, I've been a big supporter," the UM marketing student said.

Browne read one of Obama's books during his senior year of high school and was hooked. When he began donating to Obama's presidential bid, it marked the first time he contributed to a political campaign. He estimated that he's donated about $230 so far.

That Obama held a free event showed that he cares more about getting his message out than raising money, Brown said.

As the line of people waiting to see Obama made its way into the Adams Center, people passed through metal detectors, and Secret Service members looked through bags and personal items.
Once inside the field house, the screen that usually displays the game time read "2008." Both teams were listed as "Obama."

While the majority of the crowd sat in the bleachers, a select group — mainly those who got their tickets in person at Obama's Missoula office — filled the gym floor. Among the lucky few on the floor were 15-year-old Jesse Whiddon and 16-year-old Michael Tarbert, both students at Loyola Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Missoula.

Even though the two boys can't vote in the upcoming election, they believed it was important to show their support for their favorite candidate since the choices the next president makes will impact them, Tarbert said.

Whiddon and Tarbert took a school trip to Washington, D.C., shortly after Obama announced his candidacy. That's when they heard about him and chose to support him. On Saturday, they both wore T-shirts they bought on that trip.

"He's not your average political white guy," Whiddon said.

"I think we need a change in Washington, D.C., right now," Tarbert added.

Ester and Michael Bowlin volunteered to work the rally, but were turned down because the campaign had more volunteers than it needed.

Instead, Michael Bowlin, 28, waited outside the campaign office in his slippers and pajamas to get tickets.

"I'm more energetic this time," Michael Bowlin said. "I feel involved. It's more worth it."
"The gravity of this election year is kind of sweeping everybody up," added Ester Bowlin, 22.


margaret said...

Satan is incredibly charming too. Don't EVER forget that Obama can even leave living aborted babies to die in garbage cans and on filthy shelves, fighting the right-to-live at every level. I can't believe you didn't notice his position on the unborn.

Betty said...

Margaret, you are charming as well.