Obama’s Gamble at Invesco
Tonight’s speech by Barack Obama in front of more than 80,000 people in Invesco Field is not without risks, and the major media is writing from the same play book. First, Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times explore:
When Senator Barack Obama announced in early July that he would give his nomination address in an outdoor stadium in front of 75,000 people, he wowed members of both parties who saw it as an inspired stroke of campaign image making.
But as he landed here on Wednesday and prepared to become the first presidential candidate in nearly 50 years to accept his party’s nomination on such a big stage, the plan seemed as much risky as bold.
With daunting challenges of logistics, style and substance, the plan was hatched before the Republicans began a concerted drive to paint Mr. Obama as a media sensation lacking the résumé to be president. Now Obama aides are feeling all the more pressure to bring a lofty candidacy to ground level, showing that Mr. Obama grasps the concerns of everyday Americans.
From the elaborate stagecraft to the teeming crowd of 80,000 cheering partisans, the vagaries of the weather to the unpredictable audience reaction, the optics surrounding the stadium event have heightened worries that the Obama campaign is engaging in a high-risk endeavor in an uncontrollable environment.
A common concern: that the stadium appearance plays against Obama’s convention goal of lowering his star wattage and connecting with average Americans and that it gives Republicans a chance to drive home their message that the Democratic nominee is a narcissistic celebrity candidate.
His campaign has gambled on the historic moment by creating a stage that will magnify his performance. Succeed here, in front of the largest Democratic National Convention crowd in nearly 50 years, and Obama’s speech will be remembered as one of the most powerful moments in modern politics, a perfect launch into the final stage of the general election. Fail, and Obama risks fueling Republicans’ criticism that he is an aloof celebrity, fond of speaking to big crowds but incapable of forming genuine connections.