Before I tell you all about my lunchtime trip to Trenton, let me make one thing clear: Sen. Barack Obama is a rockstar.
So what brought me to Trenton from Cherry Hill you ask? Well, it was the chance to experience for myself that je ne sais quoi that makes Sen. Obama so special to many in our progressive community and well beyond. Senator Obama was in the Garden State to lend his support to our own Sen. Bob Menendez. After a morning visit to Camden, where Sen. Menendez received the warm support from black clergymen at the Kaighn Baptist Church, the Obama/Menendez juggernaut headed northbound to Trenton for a noontime rally with NJ's labor movement near the Statehouse.
And what a rally it was! First of all, the venue was an iconic one: Trenton's Masonic Temple. When I arrived, I heard the musical stylings of Fleetwood Mac thumping through the sound system.
"Don't stop thinking about tomorrow," Stevie Nicks reminded the crowd, "Don't stop! It'll soon be here, better than before! Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone!"
I should note that Menendez and Obama were joined at the event by Governor Corzine and NJ's senior Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Senator Lautenberg spoke first, noting that Senators Menendez and Obama are new to the Senate but both immeadiately showed poise and leadership in their positions. Sen. Lautenberg also expressed pride in his two Senate colleagues and his fondness for them -- personally and professionally -- was aparent. For me, it's great to see Senator Lautnberg looking so sprye and fit, still so full of piss and vineger. I'd be proud to have him as my voice in Washington for years to come. But that's another election.....
Governor Corzine was next, and he expressed his confidence in Menendez' leadership and vision in the Senate. Afterall, as we all know, the Corzine tapped Menendez to finish out his Senate term after he won the Governorship. Clearly Corzine has no misgivings about that choice in retrospect. After a year as a Menendez constituent, I'm sure Corzine made the right choice too.
Sen. Obama followed the Governor at the mic, and he was treated to a prolonged ovation from the crowd of students, union folks and statehouse workers on their lunch break. Trust me, folks, this Obama guy is The Deal. I'll stop gushing and just say that hearing him talk (and connect) it was pretty clear that I was listening to someone really special. Future president? You betcha.
Obama's opening line: "I need Menendez back in the Senate, or I'll just have Lautenberg teasing me, calling me 'Junior' all the time!"
Obama then noted that he's been on quite a stump this campaign season. He rattled off places like Philly and Miami and Missouri and a half dozen other locales he's visited to lend support to candidates as the Democrats try to reclaim the House and Senate from the GOP on election day. The Democrats are lucky to have such a good teamplayer In Obama and he clearly relished the roll.
"I won't lie, my wife's not happy" about his extended campaign tour, "but the reason I am working so hard is because we are at a crossroads right now. Besides," he continued, "we are in it together. We have a stake in one another and that ideal is what makes us strong." At that point he singled out our own Governor Corzine, who was born in Obama's homestate of Illinois.
"Your Governor," Obama told the crowd, "did more to help me get elected in 2000 than anyone outside of Illinois." So on top of everything else, Obama is loyal.
Then Sen. Obama adressed our hosts, the Labor Movement. He reminded them how together with Senator Menendez, he plans to undo damages that BushCo. has done to the average worker's pay and heathcare.
"Folks have had enough, but we need to close the deal" on election day and work hard "knocking on doors, writing a check, getting on the phones" for democratic candidates. He's right of course. If our Union brothers and sisters rock the vote and flex their election day muscles, then Senator Menendez will be sitting pretty on November 8th.
It was a tough act to follow, but Senator Menendez took the podium to deliver his pitch. You guys know the drill by now: Menendez is everything Bush and Junior are not. If the Democrats want to take the Senate back, we have got his hold on to Menendez' seat.
So what are you waiting for? Get to work!