Crowds in celebratory mood at Obama’s Chicago rally site

November 5th, 2008 - 4:33 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaChicago, Nov 5 (DPA) Lines had formed by midday outside Chicago’s Grant Park, where up to a million people are expected to gather to witness Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s post-election rally late Tuesday.Chicago residents Nick Boten, 37, and Scott Larson, 38, joined the line at around 12.30 p.m., eight hours before organizers would let them into the park - and they weren’t even near the front of the line, which got longer and longer through the course of the afternoon.

Both men were lucky enough to have one of 655,000 tickets that will get them close to the stage with a view of the podium where Obama will address supporters in the massive park fronting Lake Michigan.

Polls ahead of voting Tuesday showed Obama leading Republican rival John McCain, but his campaign hoped a surge of rallies across key battleground states the day before the election would put him over the top in the state-by-state, winner-take-all electoral college.

Hundreds of others outside the 319-acre park were forming a separate line for non-ticket holders, who hope they will be able to celebrate a victory along with the candidate - even if from a distance. They will also be able to watch the event on a massive screen.

One woman outside the line wore a cardboard sign around her neck, hoping to snag a better spot. “Please take me as your guest to the rally. From Seattle and have no ticket,” it read.

The vendors who show at up all large campaign events had also begun to collect, hawking T-shirts for $5 and campaign buttons.

The excitement over the election has drawn hundreds of US and international journalists, who have transformed much of the area adjacent to the stage into a tent city with separate enclosures the size of football fields set up for print, radio and television stations.

The international attention was warranted, Boten said. He believes an Obama win would change the status of the US in the world after eight years of President George W. Bush.

Boten was skeptical of Obama’s campaign at first, believing he did not have enough experience from his one Senate term, but became convinced that he was the right leader during the campaign.

“I don’t believe this is just about the Americans,” he said. “This is a global issue. The world needs this right now.”

After voting in Chicago in the morning, Obama left for Indiana, where he planned to greet voters at polling stations. Indiana, a battleground state, hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. He was to return to Chicago later in the evening.

Asked if he felt sentimental at the end of a 21-month long campaign, Obama said: “I’m sure I will tonight - when the polls close, the journey ends. But voting with my daughters, that was a big deal.”

He then laughed and said: “Michelle took a long time though. I had to check to see who she was voting for.”

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