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Published: Friday, 2/22/2008

The Obama Line-Up


9 AM

At 8:17 a.m., the line for tickets to Obama's Sunday appearance here at UT's Savage Hall was already beginning to snake around to the corner of Huron and Jackson streets. And, true to most all crowds for the Illinois senator, it was a big ole rainbow of people (unlike John McCain's white 'n' bright appearance in Perrysburg, which I guess you could think of as one of the Preferred Republican Suburbs).

The guy who got in line right behind me immediately pulled out his two-way radio. Shivering against the morning chill in his Carhartts, this guy (like most everyone else in line first thing this morning, save a few tie-wearing [and, in at least one case, line-jumping] lawyer types) was definitely a blue-collar worker, and not part of "the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust-fund babies crowding in to hear him speak!" (Last paragraph in this account.)

"Hey boss," he said, mouth pressing into his two-way, "I might need more than 15 minutes. But I'll get there soon as I can."

Turns out his company accounts for employee vacation time in 15-minute increments, which he was more than happy to burn up as long as he got what he came for. And when he learned the campaign was passing out tickets only two at a time, he was OK with that, too:

"That all I need. All's I need are two. One for me and one for my daughter."

She's nine years old, and she simply has GOT to see Obama for herself.

Meanwhile, someone else behind me in line spotted a co-worker, and greeted her with a big laugh, and this:

"Oh, you did NOT see me here! I just up 'n' left work to come here, so shhhh!"

Others in line wondered about the distribution location -- the City Grill, just up Huron from Jackson, and a hop, skip, and a jump away from One Government Center. Parking's terrible, one woman groused, while another mentioned how obscure this venue must be to the average (read: non-downtown-going) Toledoan.

But as one party-affiliated Obama supporter told me yesterday, handing out tickets within spitting distance of the Lucas County Board of Elections is just another sterling example of this campaign's creativity.

"Of course, you can't give out the tickets in exchange for anything," said this insider, "but if you happen to give out the tickets along with applications for absentee ballots, and if the elections board just happens to be practically across the street, well..."

And indeed, there was the application form, wrapped around a pair of tix. As the man says, vote early...

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