We had a long, cold wait for the candidates to speak at King Day at the Dome today, although it wasn’t as long or cold for me as for some.
Barack Obama had met with our editorial board earlier (I’ll post about that later today, or tomorrow), and I couldn’t get away from the office for another hour after that, so when I arrived at the State House a little after 11, some folks were already leaving. One acquaintance told me he thought the candidates had been there and left. It seemed pretty clear that the candidates weren’t up there on the steps, but I also surmised that they were yet to speak. The security was there — a real pain, because they artificially compressed the crowd and limited movement so that it was difficult to get close to the steps, and impossible (as it turned out) to get into a good position for my camera. Wherever I stood, the speakers were in shadow, and worse, sometimes backlit. (NOTE: Because of the lighting problem, and the position from which I was shooting with my little camera, this is very low-quality video!)
So the security was still there, and the TV cameras were still in place. I ran into Warren Bolton who had arrived about the same time as I, and we were still wondering whether there was indeed anything to stick around for when Warren nudged me and pointed out Tom Brokaw a few yards away in the crowd (see photo above, which is higher quality than the video because he was in sunlight, and close by). We figured if the hopefuls had spoken before us, Brokaw would have left by now, so we stayed.
Speakers we could not identify from where we stood droned on, saying the things they usually say at these events, and I was beginning to resent the NAACP for letting all these folks (myself included) stand around waiting for what so many had come for. Remember, others had been there much, much longer. I was hardly the only one to feel the crowd was being abused. Warren overhead somebody leaving, muttering about it, and saying the NAACP was going to hear about this the next time he heard from them asking for a contribution.
Finally, just after noon, the main attractions came on. My wife, who was at home comfortably watching on TV, later said she assumed they had waited to go on live at the noon hour. Perhaps that is the logical, fully understandable explanation. Anyway, it was explained that the three candidates had drawn lots to determine their speaking order. Here they are, in the order in which they spoke. The videos are rough, incomplete and unedited, as I wanted to hurry and get them out (and the video quality wasn’t that great anyway); I just provide them to give some flavor of the event: