The President Obama who greets voters during his current 48-hour campaign blitz bears some resemblance to candidate Barack Obama of four years ago. Only the 2012 model is grayer, more cautious and sounds more world-weary. The most pronounced difference, though, might be in the crowds that receive him.
On Wednesday, the president began his two-day tour in front of 3,500 supporters in eastern Iowa. He tried to pump up the volume by telling the faithful that they were entering the stretch drive and he needed every vote. “We’re going to pull an all-nighter. No sleep!”
Twenty days out from election day in 2008, Sen. Barack Obama faced quite a different scene. He stood in front of 30,000 people gathered in a park on the Miami waterfront. His mere appearance on stage had the crowd rocking — women waving their arms, men shouting praise and hundreds of cameras flashing.
Although political reporters are taught not to read too much into crowd sizes (big crowds are said to measure depth of support among true believers, not breadth of support across the electorate), it was hard not to think Obama had something big going back then. By the time he arrived in Miami, two weeks before election day, he had already drawn 50,000 people in Orlando, 75,000 in Kansas City and 100,000 in St. Louis. Those rallies packed additional meaning because they came in states — Florida and Missouri — normally seen, at best, as tossups between the two parties.