One supporter who stood in line since 5:00 p.m. was Peter Blair, a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
“Obama brings the kind of leadership that transcends just being a manager,” said Blair. “He brings a movement behind his message. I am prepared to sacrifice because he is an inspirational leader who says it is our responsibility to help govern this nation and to help rebuild this nation through our participation.”
Although the doors opened at 8:00 p.m., the rally did not gear up until 10:20 p.m. Thousands of supporters who could not fit into the convention hall floor watched outside on closed circuit television. Many parents brought their children to witness this historic campaign event.
U.S. Representatives William Delahunt and Mike Capuano spoke first, praising Obama’s politics of inclusion and his judgment in opposing the Iraq war from the start.
Governor Deval Patrick fired up the crowd with a rousing speech, then introduced Senator John Kerry, who took credit for inviting Obama to speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
“I have a weather forecast for tomorrow,” quipped Kerry. “There’s a 100 percent chance of change… The only three words I’ve heard this year that are sweeter than ‘Yes We Can’ are these: President Barack Obama.”
“I support Barack Obama because he does not seek to perfect the politics of swift-boating; he seeks to end it,” declared Kerry.
“He can give us what America needs most,” he said. “Barack Obama can bring about a transformation of politics.”
“Experience is not defined by time in Washington or years in office,” Kerry told the crowd. “Experience is defined by wisdom and instinct, by gut and by courage… I’m proud to say that I saw it and I’m proud to say that I invited him to speak at the convention right here in Boston.”
Kerry then introduced Massachusetts’ senior senator, Edward M. Kennedy, along with a surprise guest, Caroline Kennedy — the daughter of President John F. Kennedy — who had flown a red-eye flight from California to campaign for Obama in New Jersey before journeying onward to Boston.
Senator Kennedy gave a rousing speech that led into his introduction of Obama.
“We met with many of the Hispanic and Latino families… and every place in California, every place in the west and in the southwest, the message was the same. We want hope, we want change, and we have a candidate in Barack Obama,” said Kennedy. “If you care about our future, if you care about Massachusetts, if you care about our nation, then go out and vote for Barack Obama.”
The crowd roared and chanted “Yes we can! Yes we can!” as Obama ascended the stage. Gesturing to his entourage, he said, “We’ve been having a road show.”
And quite a road show it was. Obama stuck to his standard stump speech, but delivered it with unusual vigor, passion, and comic timing.
Parrying the canards that he lacks experience, and that all he offers is hope, Obama stated, “They say we need to season and stew him a little bit longer, and boil all the hope out of him, and maybe then he’ll be ready. Most Americans don’t seem to be buying this argument. They understand that risk would be to have the same old folks doing the same old things over and over again.”
Obama reminded voters that many American heroes, such as President Thomas Jefferson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., accomplished some of their greatest feats of leadership while they were young and that Americans, working together with hope in their hearts, can bring about powerful transformation.
And there, onstage in Boston once again, bathed in limelight and flanked by Massachusetts’ brightest political luminaries, Obama looked every bit the next president of these United States.