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Obama: late show

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BY Samantha Hayes, Indianapolis

May 6, 2008

          "Where's Obama?" I didn't know the answer. The question came from a  man who was standing behind a row of metal gates with a couple hundred other people waiting for the senator to speak. It was past time. The man's name was Tim, and he had come from work, as had many others, only to find the line to get into the American Legion Mall in downtown Indianapolis was too long, and so he chose to watch from the steps of the library nearby. 

"My kids are inside," he told me. "They came after school."  That was around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, an arrival so early you might expect his kids were waiting for a rock concert to start, not hear a politician.  But I had observed Obama supporters showing up early all day long.

          An excited group of women had passed me earlier in the day asking about the rally and when it started. I told them 7:30 (although Obama ended up speaking much later). They called themselves "Obama Mamas" and wore their t-shirts with pride.  They lined up with hundreds of others behind the security check point.

          The perimeter of the American Legion Mall was sealed off, something that had happened while we reporting and I hadn't noticed until I walked over to a police officer standing at one of the corners.  I quickly got the impression that while the rally was exciting for the public, this was old hat for law enforcement. Officer Humphrey said security for the Obama event was going to get even tighter in the next couple of hours. He said there had been so many visits by Clinton and Obama in recent weeks that law enforcement was a bit strained.  He was happy to have the overtime but was more than ready to see the primary in Indiana wrap up.

          7:30 passed and Obama had not yet taken the stage. That's when I walked over to the gate separating the crowd gathered at the library from the mall.  A woman named Emma, from England, said that while she can't vote, she had researched the candidates' positions and was hoping Obama would get the nomination, but also conceded that she'd be happy if Clinton won.  Scott, who was standing next to her, said he likes Obama because he felt the Illinois senator was genuine. 

          I told Tim, who was standing in the same group, that both candidates had been campaigning in Indiana and North Carolina that day, which might explain Obama's delay.  As we started to put our gear away, Stevie Wonder, who has campaigned for Obama before, started performing for the crowd, at which point I imagined Obama's late arrival was forgiven. You could hear everyone singing along to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."  Obama obviously hopes to claim victory in both of Tuesday's primaries. If that happens, he could push for a wrap up of the nomination and tell Democratic voters, "I'm Yours."

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