Thousands gathered outdoors in a downtown Des Moines park to hear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama deliver his closing comments after a more than two-year-long campaign.
Claire Haws of Des Moines was there, wearing her "Obama for Change" t-shirt. "I’m a precinct captain. I’ve been working really, really hard," Haws said. "My kids had a field trip today that I bailed on because I feel like I’ve knocked on too many doors to have miss to this here at the very end."
Haws searched "high and low" for her t-shirt, by the way, after seeing Halle Berry pictured wearing it in US Weekly magazine. "There were actual several female movie stars who were sporting this shirt," Haws said. "I found it on line and you had to pay, like, $70 but then I found it on EBay" for much less. The t-shirt features a peace sign on the front, then in small lettering on the back of the shirt — actually hidden by Haws’ hair — is the phrase: "Think ahead — lets get it right this time."
Michelle Mahlsteadt of Ankeny was standing near Haws. "Because I’m for Obama. I’m a big, good Democrat," Malsteadt said, laughing.
Mahlsteadt plans to take next Wednesday off so she can stay up late Tuesday night, watching election returns. "I think we’re going to take it. I think he’s going to do it," Mahlsteadt said of Obama’s chances.
Mario Bennett of Des Moines voted for Obama on Caucus night and was there to see him in person on Friday afternoon. "I think we’re going to make history here in four days," Bennett said.
DeAnna Lehl of Des Moines was sporting a small, gold button she made herself. "It a ‘Grandmama for Obama’ sign," Lehl said, with a laugh. "I’m pumped. I want this man to win big and I voted early. I wish I could vote often."
Eleven-year-old Nicholas Hogan of Johnson cannot vote. He skipped his sixth grade classes to attend the rally. "I actually follow politics quite a bit," Hogan said. "I follow it more than most kids…This is the first time I’ll see (Obama) in person."
Obama told the crowd he would "always be grateful" for Iowans who helped him win the Iowa Caucuses on a very cold day early last January. "Let me first of all thank whoever arranged for 70 degree weather in October," Obama said, standing on a stage drenched in sunlight and decorated with hay bales.
Obama cited the example of record Iowa Caucus turn-out as an indicator of what may happen here and elsewhere on Election Day. "On the day of the Iowa Caucus, my faith in the American people was vindicated and what you started here in Iowa has swept the nation," Obama said. "We’re seeing the same turn-out. We’re seeing the same people going and getting in line, volunteers, people participating — a whole new way of doing democracy started right here in Iowa and it’s all across the country now."
Obama told the crowd the closing hours of the campaign may be rough, sugesting his opponent will accuse him of being "everything but a child of God."