1. A majority of the crowd waited over 90 minutes in the freezing cold to see Obama. The line wrapped around Memorial Hall and didn't start moving until 4 p.m. - 45 minutes after the advertised time for doors open. The reason? The metal detectors at the front doors broke down. Homeland Security had to recalibrate the machines, and that left hundreds of people with numb feet and frozen ears. "I'm voting for Hillary," one woman shouted after standing outside for an hour. But I only saw one person leave, and that was a woman with two small children.
2. Before his talk, Obama recorded a commercial at Gateway Technical College. It was all hush, hush, but he was on the fourth floor of the Racine campus' Technical Building in the nursing area for the recording. Look for Racine on TV soon! Obama also met with two dozen Gateway staff and students before the event.
3. The biggest moment in terms of the ongoing campaign was Obama attacking Sen. John McCain. We saw a glimpse of his early strategy: Tie McCain to Bush on the war and taxes, while striking a populist stance for change. Racine was one of the first times Obama has specifically attacked McCain on the campaign trail.
4. Some people were disappointed by his speech. Afterward, they had a sense Obama didn't bring his best performance to Racine, that he was flat. Maybe so, but the crowd was definitely into the talk. The disappointment is likely from the high expectations Obama is carrying around these days. People are looking for a Dr. King, not realizing the grind of campaigning day in and day out. I thought Obama held up well through the speech, and excelled while taking questions. Even silly moments, like Diana Garcia giving him a Horlick T-shirt, were revealing. Obama could take a joke while remaining in control of the room.
5. He's possibly the coolest guy to ever run for president. People said that about Bill Clinton, but Obama oozes charisma. The way he hopped on stage, gave Gov. Jim Doyle a reverse handshake and clapped along with the crowd was enough to show he's a different breed of politician. Admittedly, calling him "cool" isn't the greatest insight. But the word sticks in my head after the Obama visit. He's definitely got something.
6. He's a real Democrat. After all of the posturing in the Democratic primary, I was interested to hear something about his policies. He's definitely a left-leaning politician who stands in stark contrast to Republicans. After four straight elections of everyone running to the middle, Obama offers something different than McCain. It's part of his early success: he says change, and then actually offers ideas that would bring about change.
7. The biggest cheer of the speech came when Obama noted that people were excited about the election because President Bush won't be on the ballot. The place erupted.
8. This is a strong line: "When the CEOs make more in 10 minutes than the average worker makes in a year, and it's the CEOs who get the tax breaks, there's something wrong." Here's another: "If you work hard in this country, you should not be poor."
9. Obama is aiming his campaign at the middle class. He openly talked against rich, and offered several ideas that would cut people out who make too much money. What's amazing is he's offering those ideas while still raising more money than any candidate in U.S. history. Odd that you don't have to pander to the wealthy to run a successful campaign.
10. Obama said he'd end the Iraq War in 2009. "I don't want to just end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war," he said.