Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"I thought the Rolling Stones was good. This is better"

MISSOULA — Missoula roared Saturday morning for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. In the Adams Center, Montanans shook their collective booty, held up their babies and even wept for a presidential candidate they believe will restore the American Dream in their towns and integrity to the White House.

“I’ve lived here in Montana all my life. I’ve never seen anything here like this before this energy today. Montana is coming alive,” said Carole Meyers, of Missoula. ...

shortly after 8 a.m., the line of people that curled out the entrance of the basketball arena and down Arthur Avenue started moving.

Amanda Cooper used the time in line to pretty up her baby, Aislyn, for Obama. As the Bozeman woman made her way into the arena, she used a makeup pencil to write “Kiss me” on the side of her 6-month-old’s forehead.

“Say, ‘Kiss me, ‘Bama.’” ...

It feels like this is a part of history we’re going to be lucky we saw,” said Mary Kelly, of Missoula.

At 9:22 a.m. in the arena, a flash of stage lights elicited whoops and catcalls from the crowd. At 9:35 a.m., the energized early risers started the wave.

“I just want to touch him,” said one.

Just before 10 a.m., the crowd began chanting Obama’s can-do theme, and they chanted faster and faster.

“Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.” “Yes-we-can. Yes-we-can.

Yes-we-can.” “Yeswecan.Yeswecan.Yeswecan.” After campaign organizers said thank yous and officials gave introductions, someone yanked the podium off the stage.

Then Obama met his Montana fans “We love you!” and it was Mon-Bamania all around.

Junell Gill, who is visiting family in Missoula, was a Clinton supporter until she heard Obama talk in person.

“He was just very, very inspiring, and very convincing with his convictions,” said Gill, of California.

Many people left the arena quickly after Obama did, but one man was so moved by the possibility of hope and change that he sat quietly in the stands and cried.

Doug Frandsen said Obama represents hope that there’s something better for this country. The Missoula man said Obama is charismatic, but it isn’t his charisma that speaks to him. It’s his message.

“I don’t think I’ve experienced anything quite like it. I thought the Rolling Stones was good. This is better,” Frandsen said.

Missoula crowd cheers, weeps for Barack Obama, by Keila Szpaller. The Montana Standard April 6, 2008.