Rally in Copley Sq. endorses Obama for 2008

by Beacon Staff • February 14, 2007

The rally was sponsored by the grassroots organization DraftObama.org, during which several speeches were given from a makeshift podium adorned with "Obama '08" posters.,Just hours after Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., formally announced his bid for the presidency Feb. 10, a crowd of about 70 people rallied in support of his campaign in Copley Square.

The rally was sponsored by the grassroots organization DraftObama.org, during which several speeches were given from a makeshift podium adorned with "Obama '08" posters.

Speakers included Leonard Atkins, the former president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP, and Samantha Power, a Harvard professor and former aide to Obama. Throughout the speeches, poster-wielding volunteers mingled with the crowd, distributing literature on Obama and encouraging people to volunteer for his campaign.

Ross Neisuler, coordinator of the Massachusetts chapter of DraftObama.org, said Obama is a unique politician, and compared him to Robert Kennedy. He said while Obama's policies are shared by many candidates, Obama has the best chance of governing effectively because he can bring people from both parties together and make sure those policies are implemented.

"I believe this man is head and shoulders above anyone we've seen in a long time," Neisuler said. "He walks on water."

The original goal of DraftObama.org was to recruit the senator to run for president. Now that Obama has officially entered the race, Neisuler said the new goal will be to get their candidate into the White House.

Obama's political career began during his days in law school at Harvard, when he won a close election to become the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, a prestigious legal journal published by over 80 law students.

While president of the Review, the Illinois senator mediated bitter ideological divisions among his editors and became a prominent voice for minority students on a campus rife with political tension. Classmates said Obama proved himself a natural leader while at Harvard.

Obama then moved to Chicago and worked as a lawyer for several years before he was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. After serving eight years as a state senator, he was elected to the United States Senate in 2004.

His political career took off after he delivered the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The convention gave Obama a platform to reach the entire country, and launched him toward a chance at becoming the first black president in American history.

However, the fact that Obama would become the first black president if elected has been mentioned as a possible deterrent for some voters.

Emily Cipes, a freshman theatre design technology major, said that while she likes Obama, she thinks others may shy away from him because of his skin color.

"I don't know if we're ready for a black president, but I don't know if that will come into play in this election," Cipes said.

Obama's entry places him in a packed field of candidates, most notably Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and former Sen. John Edwards. Some worry Obama's strong support will wane when pitted against the experience of other candidates.

However, Power said Obama's experience as a community organizer in Chicago is just as important as the political experience other candidates have.

"He's worked in the inner city before," Power said. "We want a guy who's actually got dirt under his fingernails."

Obama's seemingly genuine persona was also cited by some Emerson students as a reason why they liked him.

"He's doesn't skim around the answers," said Torrie Rasmussen, a freshman theatre major. "He seems like the most respectable person in Congress right now."