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Counting down to victory

John Cameron | Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CHICAGO – More than 10,000 people filled a massive hall at Chicago’s McCormick Place to see if their Commander-in-Chief could back up his famed rallying cry: “Yes We Can.” After spending a long evening with eyes trained on massive projection screens airing media commentary, the crowd breathed a sigh of relief around 10:15 p.m. when it was clear: Yes, he did.
Three members of The Observer’s staff were among the many gathered in the press area throughout the day. Here’s our experience, minute by minute:
2:37 p.m.: We check in with Obama for America’s media coordinators at the McCormick Place Hyatt and receive press passes.
2:53 p.m.: Upon arriving at the entrance to the south lot of Soldier Field, we are ushered through the first security checkpoint. Our car is searched by two Secret Service agents and a bomb-sniffing dog.
3:03 p.m.: We reach the second security checkpoint where we are again searched by agents and a detection dog, this time focusing on our equipment. After being ushered through metal detectors, we are directed to the press work stations.
3:38 p.m.: After shopping around for an ideal spot, we settle onto the main floor press area near reporters from Polish and Dutch outlets. A Polish reporter laments the waiting game he’s been trudging through since his early arrival on the grounds.
4:40 p.m.: The first sound check begins: a reading of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.”
6:17 p.m.: The media floor awakens from an extended lull as Ill. Sen. Dick Durbin passes through press area.
7:16 p.m.: Music starts up on the main stage. Playlist: Bruce Springsteen, Florence + the Machine, Zac Brown Band, Al Green, Arcade Fire.
7:20 p.m.: Ticket-bearing members of the public begin filing into the hall, visibly excited.
7:30 p.m.: Actresses Angela Bassett and Alfre Woodard enter through “special guests” gate, surrounded by enthused Obama supporters.
8:04 p.m.: Video montage begins, highlighting Obama’s previous campaign and first term. The video is YouTube themed, showing clips of major speeches, rallies and media appearances. Scenes range from light-hearted, family moments to the coverage of bin Laden’s death and the conclusion of the Iraq War.
8:31 p.m.: A second video featuring Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama begins. This short focuses on social issues, referencing unions, immigrants and the LGBT community, before concluding on the economy. One clip includes a quote from Biden, “If the 47 percent doesn’t make it, the country doesn’t make it.”
9:00 p.m.: Third video montage begins with footage of the First Lady in which she discusses the need to stay with the administration’s forward momentum. “Are we going to turn around and enact the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place?” “I’m going to need your help finishing what we started,” her husband said in another clip. “I believe in you, and I need you to keep believing in me.”
9:14 p.m.: Video beings with Biden referencing Romney’s touted flub about “binders full of women,” before segueing into dialogue about women’s issues. Footage presents Obama joking about Romney’s alleged flip-flopping on issues, popularly dubbed “Romnesia.” “Here’s the good news – Obamacare covers preexisting conditions.”
9:35 p.m.: Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church offers an invocation. “We praise you that you have uplifted a leader of character and confidence,” she said.
9:40 p.m.: Singer Ledisi provides a rendition of the National Anthem.
10:15 p.m.: MSNBC projects Obama to win reelection. The crowd erupts.
10:20 p.m.: CNN issues concurring projection as celebrations continue. Spectators break into dance as “Twist and Shout” booms through the hall.
11:55 p.m.: The crowd cheers and jeers as Obama’s opposition, Gov. Mitt Romney, comes onto the projection screens to give his concession speech. “I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory,” he said, before thanking his running mate Paul Ryan, wife Ann, sons, campaign team and donors. “I don’t believe there’s ever been an effort in our party that can compare with what you’ve done … This election is over, but our principles endure.”
12:09 a.m.: The crowd cheers in unison with footage of 2008 rally, “Fired up, ready to go,” as the newly-reelected President prepares to take the stage.
12:38 a.m.: The First Family arrives on stage to the loudest cheering of the night thus far.
12:40 a.m.: The President, smiling widely, offers an address focused on bipartisan progress. “I believe we can seize this future together, because we are not as divided as our politics suggest,” he said. “We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.”