Obama, Oh Mama 

In the cold, dark hours of the early morning, over 14,000 Idahoans gathered at Boise State's Taco Bell Arena to see Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama. Not a bad turnout, considering the Obama camp only expected around 8,000 people to show.

Some attendees stood in line for more than two hours in the freezing cold just for the chance to see the charismatic candidate speechify. So many people turned out that many were turned away at the door, even after event staff opened additional seating.

He had the audience eating out of the palms of his hands, laughing at his jokes, applauding his ideas and promises. When Obama joked, "So, they told me there weren't any Democrats in Idaho," the entire building erupted in a frenzy of cheers and applause.

The crowd was widely mixed with Republicans and Democrats, white and black, young and old in attendance. When asked what they liked most about seeing Sen. Obama, one 10-year-old Boise resident earnestly responded, "He's not like President Bush and I like that." Shirley Mansfield, 72, of Nampa said, "He speaks to everyone. He inspires all kinds of people."

Everything he said seemed to be a crowd-pleaser, until he called Idaho "Iowa" by mistake. Obama quickly recovered from his error, but not before every TV news station picked up the sound bite and replayed it.

Whatever the demographic or party affiliation, Idahoans came together for one reason: to get a closer look at the man who hopes to be America's first black president.

One national reporter brought up the issue of race when he asked Chani Wiggins, communications director of Idaho for Obama, about Idaho once being home to the Aryan Nation.

The reporter asked Wiggins what the most racist state in the nation could do for Obama. Wiggins responded, "It's always been an unfair stigma to the State of Idaho, and I believe that the record crowd here at the rally is a testament to that."

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