| I'm at the San Diego Convention Center next to MyDDer (his liveblog) and Calitics alum Todd Beeton where Barack Obama is about to address the assembled luncheon along with Tom Nelson of Divided We Fail/AARP and Rep. Joe Baca.
I'll throw up anything interesting that may pop up. So far I'm struck by the sponsors: Chrysler, Shell, Sodexho, Walmart, Allstate. Not exactly the best neighborhood partners in the world, which is probably why they want to be here.
Update: Wal-mart's CEO (Lee Scott) knows many people are being squeezed in today's economy. He is glad to help by providing affordable health care. wh- wh- what?
Update: The theme of the luncheon is "The Power to Change History." Obama's wheelhouse right? Tom Nelson is talking about the struggles of food, gas, and medicine. Providing affordable health care (I bet he and Lee Scott have different visions here), and protecting social security.
Update: I don't have numbers for overall attendance, but the Ballroom for the luncheon is set up to accommodate about 2,250 after space was cleared for press. The overflow room is probably roughly 700 with the same accommodation and it's filling up fast as well. Who'd'a thought this would be a big draw?
Update: A number of McCain and GOP folks working the room immediately ahead of Obama's speech. Notable because there don't seem to be any Obama folks around- got the impression that nobody's really seen Obama people yet today. They're definitely here, he flew in last night. I know this not because I'm a creepy stalker but because every local news station covered it. San Diego, the 8th largest city in the country, is excited for the attention. As are the demonstrators outside that run from Obama supporters to American Independent Party supporters to Minutemen to anti-choice to overtly lying racists. The rich tapestry of America.
Update: "What's the best economic stimulus package? A high school diploma." Bob Wise, former long-time member of Congress and Governor of West Virginia is up now and talking about education issues for Strong American Schools (Founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, headed by Roy Romer). Also on stage are future leaders, and Wise is discussing the importance of raising a strong new generation of leaders. The rhetorical stage is being set quite nicely for Obama.
Update: NCLR President Janet Murguia is finishing the table setting in her introduction of Sen. Obama. Earlier speakers covered health care and education, now involvement in civic life, multiculturalism, the housing crisis, DREAM Act, and immigration reform. She finishes up by almost calling Obama the next president of the United States. Tipped hand a little bit.
Change does not come from the top down. Change comes from the bottom up. change doesn't come because someone in Washington says it should...When you organize neighborhoods into coalitions and workers into unions.
Update: Brings down the house defending exploited workers and harassed immigrants:
The system doesn't work when 12 million people are living in hiding and tens of thousands are crossing our borders illegally...when businesses are...exploiting workers and neighborhoods are terrorized by ICE...when mothers are ripped from their babies...the system isn't working and we need to change it.
This election is nothing less than a test of our allegiance to the American dream.
Heavy on immigration reform, "bring those 12 million people out of the shadows and give them a path." They should pay a fine, learn English, get in line. "Practical solution." Well then.
Too many young people, they've given up hope way too early. the children who attend overflowing classes in underfunded schools...They're counting on us to invest in early childhood education...To recruit an army of new teachers. To make college affordable to anyone who wants to go. Because that's how you give Americans the tools to compete in a global economy.
Update: Veterans are depending on us to build a 21st century VA...including mental health care. What if they're just feeling blue I wonder?
Update: "Make it [health care] affordable for anyone who wants it." Who doesn't want it?
Roughly: Introducing a new plan to provide real relief for small business owners. Championed by Hillary Clinton. It's a plan that would help more employers provide health benefits to their employees. If you're a small business who wants to provide health care, I'm going to provide a tax credit. Will help create not just new jobs but good jobs. Jobs with health care. Jobs in America. That's how we're going to change the system in this country.
"Imagine how powerful you could be in November if you translate your numbers into votes."
Update: "We're going to shake things up."
"This November we're coming together to turn the page on the failed policies of the past. Together...we will transform this nation."
Final update: No Joe Baca? hmm.
"The system is broken" was the theme of the speech, focused on how to bring Latinos further into the mainstream of U.S. society by transforming the avenues for participation.