By Brandon Wallace
Oakland was transformed into a block party Sunday, Sept. 30 as Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) took center stage.
In the Bay Area for a large pull nearing the end of third-quarter fundraising, Clinton was introduced alongside Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has endorsed Clinton for president amid flashing campaign posters proclaiming messages of support. In the backdrop of almost every photo, slogans like “READY for Change! Ready to LEAD!” appeared, reminding the audience of Clinton’s message.
The event was hosted by Club 44, a group dedicated to electing Clinton as the 44th, and first female, President of the United States. Tickets came in two forms â€“ VIP tickets for a closer placement near the stage for $20, while general admission was free. Clinton’s block party followed a weekend full of high-dollar fundraising events, including a $2,300-per-person reception at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco home, a meet-and-greet ranging anywhere from $500 to $2,300, and a post-rally dinner in Atherton.
After a round of entertainment that featured dancers dressed up as dragons, local artists, and a gospel choir, Clinton emerged from behind the metal framework, shaking hands and jumping right into her points of the evening.
The night’s topics: an affordable, national health care system for the under- or uninsured, dedicating herself to withdrawing troops from Iraq and ending the war, and fighting against global warming.
Clinton also talked about her appreciation for California, a state her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has visited over 70 times.
“To me, California is helping to lead the way about what we as a nation must do,” Clinton said when discussing possible alternative energy sources and necessary actions to protect the earth against global warming.
Spectator and UC Berkeley student Alina Fortson, a third-year women’s studies and political science double major, said, “I’m kind of star-struck. It’s Hillary Clinton, you know?”
Fortson said she came to “see what [Hillary] has to say,” and didn’t have preference for one candidate over another, though finished saying, “I think I like Hillary Clinton better than other candidates. She’s good at countering Republicans. I’m all about it.”
As people began lining up a few hours before the event’s opening, Oakland local John Parks began distributing a flier he designed and printed himself explaining the candidates and his views on them.
“I just think there needs to be a change in the current administration,” Parks said. “When I vote, I’m going to vote from the heart. I’d prefer Obama over Hillary … We have to beat Republicans.”
Clinton failed to amuse other spectators, who left wanting more. “Her speech was what I expected it to be,” Kelly Chau, a student at the Oakland Military Institute, said. “I wasn’t surprised.”
Just a block away, Clinton’s top competitor in the race for the Democratic candidacy, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, chose the same day to open his regional Oakland headquarters.
The event was complete with live music; red, white and blue balloons; and high-profile supporters such as West Coast rappers Blackalicious and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.
Last March, Obama hosted an event similar to Clinton’s Sunday-night block party, drawing about the same number of supporters and volunteers.
As the event came to a close, Clinton dismounted the stage and posed with volunteers, local politicians, and performers from the evening’s ceremony. The night was barely over, with another round of dinner fundraising on her plate.