Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Outside the Cashman Center before Tuesday night’s presidential debate, candidates’ supporters lined up on Washington Avenue to wage a visibility war for arriving debate guests and journalists in what could be considered a rehearsal for caucus-day planning.
If debate night were caucus day, this is how the three leading campaigns would drum up support:
Well, only one campaign would drum.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s people maybe 100 of them bellowed into bullhorns and banged on plastic buckets.
Among the 50 or so steel workers who turned out for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, a few were assigned to hoist 5-foot-tall, three-dimensional red letters spelling out his surname. They were heavy, requiring two people to hold each letter, and the brawn of four to hold the “W.”
And Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters outnumbering Clinton’s by a few relied on no tools, no props, just their voices.
The candidates’ fans started showing up two hours before the debate and were assigned to metal corrals. Staff from each campaign stood on the sidewalk, leading the cheers, while the volunteers leaned over the railings and waved at the passing cars. It could have been a pep rally, what with the bullhorns and balloons, chants and cheers.
And they became competitive. “Yes, we can!” (Obama’s people.) “Who’s house? Our house! What house? White House!” (Clinton’s people.) “John, John Edwards! John, John, John Edwards! (No ambiguity there.)
If they were trained to cheer by their organizers, so too were they instructed to decline media interviews. And good soldiers they were, most of them politely referring interview requests to campaign leaders.
Presidential Debate Recap:
- Political Kumbaya
- Timing may sink lawsuit aimed at Strip voting
- Markets pick 'em better than polls
- 11th hour, Ron Paul holds to his maverick strategy
- Undecideds find little help in debate
- Out in droves
- Democrats engage in substantive, tranquil and focused debate
- Video: Haning out at the debate
- Video: MSNBC Debate Highlight: Yucca Mountain