Monday, February 04, 2008

SuperTuesday: NJ, USA

As Super Tuesday gets closer I said to myself that if any of the US Presidential front runners of any persuasion came close to here I would make a point of going out to see them in action.

As the race has gone on it seems that the field has whittled itself down to John McCain for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democrats.

As it happens, today, it was Barack Obama who was appearing at New Jersey's Meadowlands Center, so I scooted up the New Jersey Turnpike to have a look at someone who might yet become the President of the United States of America.

I lined up with thousands of others in the wintry sleet to get into the main arena. There was an intense amount of energy about, not really at the level you might expect if you've ever seen any of that old US political convention footage, but of people really looking for something new. What was really noticeable was the number of young people and people of colour - as they say here - who seemed totally committed to Obama's cause.

There were a fair few opening remarks as you'd expect at a gathering such as this, but, speaking as someone who is really an outsider and with no means of establishing the degree of integrity of these people, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark certainly knew how to make a speech and impressed me greatly.

However, the real proceedings were set off by Robert de Niro - yes, that Robert de Niro ... a big surprise for everyone in the hall - who introduced Senator Edward (Teddy) Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy - JFK's daughter.

Nobody can deny that Obama has a fair degree of charisma and had the audience eating out of his hand. What was surprising to me was the degree of liberalism - as they call it here - which wouldn't have been unusual at a British Labour Party conference before Blair.

The Democrats seem to have an embarrassment of riches, having already had a candidate, who could have undoubtedly taken on the reins of office at least as well as anybody in the last 40 years, drop out and are still left with a choice between two serious candidates, one black, one a woman ...

I'm sure Democrats will make the best choice. Will America?