Obama supporters gather to watch acceptance speech
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Sheila Ross went to the Obama for America website and signed up to have a small gathering at her home on Thursday night – hoping a few folks might turn up to watch the president.
She envisioned “maybe 8-10 people – a little intimate watch party,” she said.
“I had to make something happen,” she said.
Ross decided to call some of the people who had sent her a message that they would attend the event. The first person she called was Rebecca D’Spain, who has been active in politics for decades.
Plans were made to move the gathering to the Alamo in downtown Newnan, and D’Spain helped Ross set up an OFA registration table and make other logistical plans for the evening.
“I just happened to call the right person. Sometimes it happens like that,” Ross reflected.
“I had 99 RSVPs,” Ross noted. There were about 50 people clapping and cheering as Pres. Barack Obama accepted the nomination for president, and a number of others stopped by earlier in the evening.
Sholanda Aikens, Traci Chandler, Dawn Ducoulombier and D’Spain held various Obama campaign signs outside the Alamo and waved to passersby on the Court Square just before dusk. They got some thumbs-up, some head shakes and lots of waves and honks of the horn.
Images from the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., filled a large screen inside the former movie theater. Some of those attending had a drink or a meal, while others simply took a metal folding chair in front of the screen to watch the evening unfold.
People introduced themselves, conversed and cheered and clapped – often rising to their feet – particularly during the speeches by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Aikens said the idea of getting people together to watch something they could easily have seen at home is important – building connections between people and creating enthusiasm for Obama. “That’s what did it the first time,” she said.
Ross expressed similar thoughts. She wanted to have a watch party so Obama’s acceptance speech could be something “to experience together,” she said. She noted many of the people attending did not know each other before and were delighted to find other Democrats in the local area.
Gatherings like the one Thursday help people bond to “work together,” Ross said. “This is where our future lies. We want to connect with it.”
D’Spain was frank about her reasons for supporting Obama – her four grandchildren ranging in age from 2-16. “Where I am in life, I’m thinking about the long view. I have to take that view for them. When Obama is elected, our children will win,” she said.
Aikens said she admires Obama for standing for diverse groups in American society. The president “has taken hits” for that commitment, she said.
“Pres. Obama’s being portrayed as someone who hasn’t done anything,” said Aikens, who said she is not affiliated with any political party. She said people need to read, get information from a variety of sources and make political decisions based on facts.
Chandler said she is unsure how she will vote in November.
“I’m still undecided. I feel like both sides have great strengths,” she said.
“I was raised Republican,” she said, but added she thinks too many people stick with one party or another out of tradition and habit.
She said that finding out “what’s really going on” is difficult but imperative. As November gets closer, she said she intends to “put a lot more research into it than I did in the past.”