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The Making of Bubba's GOTV Speech

  Watching the democratic party rally featuring former President Bill Clinton Tuesday tested the patience of this political reporter and others.

  30 minutes past the scheduled start time, The Palmer House ballroom was about half-filled with what organizers estimated as over a thousand enthusiastic democrats.  Many of them held clipboards hoping to sign up volunteers who would knock on doors, staff phone banks and do whatever will be needed to get the party's voters to the polls on November 2nd. 

  The room may have looked more crowded than it actually was because the campaign "consultants" stage these events to give them that "standing room only" feel.

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin was the master of ceremonies who got the crowd going with introductions of incumbent Congressional candidates Debbie Halvorson (11th) and Bill Foster (14th).   Dan Seals, who is trying for the third time to win the 10th district seat, also did his best to whip up the faithful.

  Then the quartet  mysteriously disappeared for several momentum-killing minutes that you did not see on TV.

  We found out the featured guest was late arriving at the Hotel.  (probably due to weather-related traffic between O'Hare and the Loop)

   When he did get to the ballroom, Durbin and  the congressional candidates returned to the stage in a "re-do" accompanied by U.S. Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and his running mate Sheila Simon.

  They did their best to re-energize the ballroom with remarks from Quinn and Giannoulias who introduced President Clinton.

   For a few minutes, "Bubba" had 'em where he wanted 'em.  He could barely say a sentence without being interrupted by applause.  After all, this is the democratic President who left office in 2001 with a booming economy, a budget surplus and the U.S. at relative peace with the rest of the world. 

  "They want to do just what they did in the previous eight years on steroids this time", Clinton said of Republican plans if the GOP takes control of Congress.

  But that was one of the last good lines.

  The 64 year old Clinton descended into a meandering, wonkish, 45 minutes, way-too-long canned speech he likely repeats on the election year banquet circuit.   

  Hey Bill, this was supposed to be a Get Out The Vote rally.

  Keep in mind, the audience was standing.  You could see the pols behind the former Prez shifting their weight from one leg to another as Clinton droned on.

  I noticed many of the democratic party "soldiers" begin to look at their watches.

   Then worse, as they mumbled comparisons between Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro, many headed for the elevators and exits.

  By the time the former President finished his speech, the half-filled ballroom was at best a third-filled.

  All of the above is to let you know that what appears in the sound bite driven world of TV news to be a jam-packed, high-energy political rally...was actually something less.

  Just letting you know.



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