Monday, October 19, 2009

"Ladies and Gentlemen" Biden/Corzine (09!)

Jon Corzine's week got off to a good start today. He held a campaign rally at the Middlesex County College in New Jersey where he was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Representative Frank Pallone and Representative Rush Holt among others. Bill and Hillary Clinton campaigned at the same venue way back in 1992.

Before the event even got under way I saw 4 anti-Corzine protesters representing "Students against Corzine." I heard that number got up to 10. I was going to photograph them on my way out but they weren't there anymore. Up until around 11:15 or so everyone had to wait outside. Just like the Obama/Corzine (09!) event earlier this summer this left a lot of time for people to just mingle and share stories. I was actually interviewed by a reporter from the Home News Tribune (part of the Gannett family). Yeah, I know it's not the New York Times or the Washington Post but I'll take what I can get. I had tickets to the event thanks to a friend who works in New Jersey politics but was lucky enough (again!) to get access to an extra VIP pass and ended up sitting in the 2nd row. When you have elected officials sitting behind you, you know you got lucky.

I'm sure this is a common occurrence any time someone high profile like the Vice President is involved but the event didn't start anywhere close to the time listed on the ticket.

None of the local officials really inspired anyone aside from maybe Freeholder James Polos.
The two congressmen in attendance were better. Frank Pallone who is now serving his 11th term in the House as well as Rush Holt. If you aren't familiar with Holt's background you should read into it. It is really impressive. It can be argued that he is the smartest person in Washington.

This was the first time in a long time that I've heard Frank Lautenberg speak and he just seemed out of it at times. I mean the man is 85 years old but his speech at time was off. I don't think he stays senator until the end of his term in 2014 which is another reason why this Governor's election is important because Corzine can be in a position to appoint a Democratic senator to replace him should need me. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark perhaps? Launtenbeg was on the stage to introduce State Senator Barbara Buono and completely botched her name.

Next up was state senator Barbara Buono who was there to introduce Corzine and Biden. Funny moment before then as an aide to Buono came around to people sitting near the front and asked if they'd give her standing ovations when she came in. Buono's speech wasn't anything to write home about and by this point everyone was ready for the main event. People had been waiting for over 2 hours and by this point were pretty much ignoring the speakers.

Joe Biden and Jon Corzine both came out together and joined Buono and Lautenberg on the stage for a photo op. Buono quickly left the stage and Senator Launtenberg literally wandered around the stage from end to end. It was awkward. At one point Vice President Biden even asked him to sit on a stool that was on the stage but Lautenberg turned him down. At some point during the Corzine speech he walked off the stage and didn't return.

Corzine's speech was what you would expect it to be. He was getting decent reaction but the crowd of about 600 or so got into it a lot more when Corzine was criticizing Chris Christie then they did when he was talking about himself. New Jersey does have a love/hate relationship with this governor but voting Chris Christie into office is not an option. As Congressman Holt said earlier in the day "One Christie (former governor Whitman) is enough." Corzine went through the generic campaign shtick talking about having partners in Washington in Barack Obama and "the 3rd senator from New Jersey Joe Biden." The Governor hammered Christie on his refusal to accept stimulus money. As expected Chris Christie was tied to the failed policies of Bush/Cheney but Corzine took it one step further by making sure to link Christie to Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford over the stimulus money.

The main event was of course Vice President Joe Biden. People always talk about how much fun it is to be at events where Biden speaks, and they were "literally" right. He didn't use the word as often but did not fail to disappoint with his "ladies and gentlemen." I lost count of the amount times he said it today. Biden was effective in his role. He started off by talking about his mother saying that if you weren't a Democrat you went to hell. He had a nice laugh about that before adding that he didn't think it was true. He talked about Corzine's financial background. He made sure to emphasize just like President Obama had back in July that Corzine was one of the voices the Obama transition team turned to on economic issues. Many like me believe if Corzine had endorsed Barack Obama from the start and not Hillary Clinton he just may have had a prominent role in the Obama administration. The Vice President hammered Christie and the GOP for their opposition to everything saying "I know what all these guys are against. I always have trouble figuring out what they're for." I couldn't have said it better myself. Biden also talked about his wife Jill who as we all know is also a professor at a community college. Biden had to throw in his obligatory Amtrak reference too. Not sure if this was the right though, Amtrak and NJ Transit northeast corridor were hours behind schedule with their service this morning.

Healthcare was a big theme through the day. Normally you see a diverse group standing behind or to the side of the stage for the TV cameras. Today it comprised entirely of women, pretty much all of whom had pink mammogram related stickers on their shirts as part of "Breast Cancer awareness month."

Education was another theme sprinkled throughout, especially early education. Joe Biden made sure to mention his wife Jill who is a professor.

As Jon Corzine is in the middle of his big week, raising money for Chris Christie today is Bobby Jindal?

All in all it was a good event. Corzine doesn't exactly capture you with his words but he is the man for the job at this time. The motto for me all summer long has been "anyone but Christie" and most of New Jersey at this point seems to agree. New Jersey loves Joe Biden. Biden got a huge reaction from the crowd. He shook a ton of hands afterwards and seemed to take as many pictures with the people in the crowd.

As we were walking back to the parking lot we were stopped and had to wait on the sidewalk for about 10 minutes waiting for the Biden motorcade to go by. Someone from the Corzine PR team did a great job here because just as the Biden motorcade was going by Corzine got out of his SUV (Jed Bartlett style from that West Wing Budget negotiations episode) and shook some more hands and took photos with people.

I was expecting a much heavier security presence at the event. Definitely was expecting more secret service personnel there too. Everyone had to go through metal detectors but inside the building (at least in the front where I was) there weren't as many visible secret service personnel. No food or drinks were allowed into the building. In addition to the Secret Service  the security was also being handled by campus police, NJ state troopers, Rutgers police. Want to see how different the situation is on Wednesday when Barack Obama campaigns for Jon Corzine. There are some disturbing reports about the amount of death threats these days.

I have tickets to the Bill Clinton/Jon Corzine event at Rutgers University tomorrow night. I am still trying to get my hands on one for the Obama event Wednesday. If you were there today or will be at one of ones the next two days, let me know what you thought about the experience.

As always you can leave a comment here, reach me by e-mail or contact me via Twitter. This article is on Newsvine too, please help seed it up the Vine.

Video of the Biden Speech

Below you'll find some pictures I took at the event.

Women were placed front and center at the event by the Corzine camp.

Congressman Frank Pallone

Congressman Rush Holt.....smartest congressman out there?

Senator Lautenberg

State Senator Barbara Buono, just don't ask Senator Lautenberg to say her name.

Joe Biden took a lot of pictures with people.

Jon Corzine pulling a Jed Bartlett.

That's Joe Biden in that SUV.

Promises to Keep: On Life and PoliticsHow Barack Obama Won: A State-by-State Guide to the Historic 2008 Presidential Election (Vintage)

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