Democrat Barack Obama defied darkness, frigid weather and the season's first serious snowstorm yesterday to attract a Boston crowd of thousands he hopes will provide money and foot soldiers for a push across the border in the New Hampshire primary.
Trying to upset front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Illinois senator boasted about polls showing dead-even races in early voting Iowa and New Hampshire - challenging the supremacy of the New York Democratic senator and former first lady.
"I just got back from Iowa, where it appears we're doing pretty good," Obama told a crowd in the cavernous Park Plaza Castle. "It's amazing how you go from being DOA to being a genius in about three weeks. But right now, we're going pretty good in Iowa, and we're going pretty good in New Hampshire, because the American people are ready for change and this campaign is about change that you can believe."
He went on to make light of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, but he turned serious when he said the country faces a rare moment to address lingering issues such as the uninsured, global warming and foreign energy dependence.
"We have the chance, a way that we haven't had for a couple decades maybe, to remake the political pact," the senator said. "We have the opportunity to finally come together to actually start solving problems, problems that George Bush made far worse but had been festering long before George Bush took office."
His remarks were greeted with cheers from the audience. Overhead hung a banner, written in the script used by the Red Sox [team stats], that read, "Boston for Barack."
The turnout was noteworthy, considering it occurred on a work night when the temperature outside was in the 20s.
While the audience was overwhelmingly college-aged, many of the older faces were not those normally seen at the Democratic State Convention or other partisan events in a state known as perhaps the most Democratic in the country.