For about 35 minutes on Saturday, I was 6 feet 2 inches tall. Or maybe 6’1”. That’s because I was standing on my toes among 16,000 cheering people trying to get a glimpse of Sen. Barack Obama.
I had never seen a presidential candidate or president. So Obama’s second visit to nearby Pueblo was difficult to pass up. On his first visit he spoke at the Colorado State Fairgrounds and I was the night city editor at The Pueblo Chieftain that evening so I didn’t get to go.
This time around, Obama was set to speak in the Union Avenue district. After much waffling, I jumped in the car, drove 50 miles, and met my Westcliffe friend Mick and his buddy Warren at the security entrance about a block from the stage. We moseyed through the crowd to get as close as we could. It seemed like we would have a decent view from less than a block away.
I was unprepared for what happened when Michelle Obama took the stage for her introductory speech. Suddenly everyone was standing on their toes. A great number were holding digital cameras or signs up over their heads, and many were hoisting children high to see.
I shifted from side to side and stood on my toes to get a glimpse. And then Barack took the stage. Though he was easy to hear via the loudspeakers, I could not find him on the stage through the arms, cameras and piggy-backed kids.
While struggling to get a glimpse, I was struck by the words. The guy was serious and humorous at the same time. He spoke on very complicated topics using the words of an ordinary person. And there was a genuine quality about his speech.
I can stand on my toes for a long time. One by one the people grew tired, and suddenly there he was. It was not an up-close view, but it was Barack Obama, in person. I was standing tall and while listening to what he had to say I had the feeling I had caught a glimpse of both a presidential candidate and a president.