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Friday, March 31, 2006

Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey observations

Okay, so many of you are bugging me about last night’s JJB dinner that I’m forced to do a quick write-up. Now, I’m going to be really fast about this because I’m knee-deep in a big project at work and I don’t have the time to go into much detail. I’ll update this post throughout the day as I find the time.

UPDATE: I found some time to clean up this post…somewhat.

Now, I didn't think I could bring in my camera or recording device in the place (STUPID MOVE! Everyone had his or her cameras. My father always told me to keep a camera on you at all times, I didn’t listen on this night and I’m paying the price. Anyway, because I didn’t bring my usual stuff, I made it a point to keep an eye on everyone and write down any interesting stuff I witnessed.

I arrived with about 15 minutes left till the start of the show so I walked around the cocktail area trying to get a feel of the vibe (MY GOODNESS, can political people drink. I swear, the booze was going down like water and the event didn’t start yet).

Looking around at the various campaign tables, without question the best tables belong to Dan Malloy and John DeStefano. Not only were their tables at the right location (right next to the escalators), both tables were full of material (very professional job on the flyers and newsletters) and the volunteers for both campaigns were REALLY fired up as they waved their banners passing out buttons to the people passing by (again, smart move being next to the escalators). I made it a point to check out Lieberman’s table and see what he had to and they weren’t many people stopping by his set-up (I stood there for about five minutes talking to a friend while keeping an eye on Joe’s spot just to be sure). On the other hand, Lamont’s table was doing pretty good with most people grabbing Lamont buttons. It was a smart move for Lamont’s team to set up next to Malloy and DeStefano and for the life of me, I can’t understand why Lieberman’s table was located where it was located. All I can say was that his table was almost in the way; it was right in the walking path and in the middle of the cocktail area whereas Lamont, DeStefano, and Malloy’s set-up was out of the way and next to the escalator. In simple terms, everyone who came to the event had no chance but to walk by Mallory, DeStefano, and Lamont’s table and get annoyed with Lieberman’s set-up being right in the way of the walking area.

As I stood next to Lieberman’s table, I wanted to see how many Lamont buttons I could see on people until I spot one Lieberman button. Seriously, it took a good couple of minutes until I could actually find someone was wearing a Lieberman button. A clear majority of people was wearing Lamont buttons (in fact, to my surprise, it wasn’t even close. In the end, I had to walk around and find someone wearing a Lieberman button).

Everything that Joe passed out had one theme "stick with Joe". From his flyers, to his pine tree branch his campaign gave to everyone at the tables (don’t ask me, no one understood what the tree branch thing was about and everyone joked about it), everything Lieberman gave out had three simple words "stick with Joe".

(Here's a picture of the silly pine tree branch I'm talking about)

Sat down for dinner but since I wasn't there to eat but to observe what I saw, I briefly chatted with the people at my table and proceeded to walk around the place and check out who was there. Again, based on my observations, the Lamont button was the hottest item in the place. Everywhere I turned there was some young person wearing a Lamont button next to their Malloy or DeStefano button. A majority of the people wearing Lieberman stuff where older which was no real big surprise.

After talking to a host of people I knew, I sat back at my table as the event was proceeding. The place was energized and everything was going well until Chris Dodd spoke and brought up Joe Lieberman's name.

This is when the mood changed.

I looked around and observed a number of people booing and believe me, it wasn’t all coming from the Lamont tables (in fact, I didn’t see anyone at Ned’s table boo at all). There was a great deal of Malloy people booing Lieberman as well as people who didn’t have any buttons on at all. I would say the applause to boo ratio was about 70 to 30 (in other words, everyone could clearly hear the people boo Lieberman’s name).

When Joe took to the stage, he received another rather "polite" clap with a very noticeable level of boos mixed in. Joe was forced to pause a couple of times to quiet the crowd but the funny thing was that the crowds weren't necessarily booing him but rather talking over him. You could hear the people moving their silverware around and it basically seemed like they weren’t many people paying attention to his speech (unlike all the other speakers where you could clearly hear them).

When Obama took the stage, I had to stand up to watch the audience's reactions. Obama brought up Joe's name and the place booed him again but unlike the other times, this round of boos where pretty loud. And this point, Obama brought up the fact (which was pretty obvious) that there were a number of people in the crowd who didn’t care too much for Joe. Obama stated that although he didn't agree with every one of Joe's positions, he felt that Joe was a good person. It was ironic that Obama said this because in his very next sentence, Obama went off and bashed the Bush administration over the war. The funny part was when he mocked the Bush administration's claim about the amount of people in Iraq using cell phones being an indicator that the US is doing good things in Iraq. It's funny because it was Lieberman who first made that comment, not the administration.

Overall, Obama's speech was pretty good and it really energized the crowd but it had one more boo moment. At the end of his speech, Obama told the audience to support the Democrats and re-elect Lieberman to the senate. Well, the people in the audience weren’t so psyched about hearing Lieberman’s name and booed Joe again at which point, Obama basically said "good night" and promptly left the stage.

Like I said, I’m really busy so I’m sorry for the quick writing and I’ll update this post in more detail later.

You can check out the video footage of the JJB dinner below (hat tip to spazeboy).