The Thompson Center in downtown Chicago was the cold and colorful place to be Tuesday night, with hundreds of Chicago Obama supporters cheering while holding umbrellas and coffee, watching the poll results come in on a massive CNN feed — the largest in the city.
While the official Obama re-election rally was going on at McCormick place, the Thompson Center plaza held its own with throngs of Obama supporters. And while Obama supporters outside the White House were climbing trees last night, those outside the Thompson Center were jumping for joy… literally.
Many campaign volunteers who worked all the way up to Election Day were present at President Obama’s formal election night rally at McCormick place last night. But others made their way to the James R. Thompson Center in the heart of downtown.
Rikki Patel, a consultant in Chicago, was at Thompson Center to watch the results come in. She commutes between Chicago and North Carolina, working Monday through Thursday in the city before heading back to North Carolina Friday.
She had voted Saturday in North Carolina before coming back to Chicago. She said, “Its such a big night… I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else but here… I’m committed.”
Though it was the only organized event available to the general public, due to limited attendance at McCormick, it remained occupied by die-hard Obama fans throughout the night.
Some even dated back to the unforgettable mood in Grant Park four years ago.
“I remember the strong, universal belief in the crowd that night that this was the ushering in of change,” said 22-year-old David Marc. “And I can feel it here tonight too.”
People gathered with fellow citizens to wait, together, in anticipation for the announcement of the 44th President of the United States. And cold rain proved not a factor, as the crowd grew larger as the night went on and more results came in.
“I’m here because I’m an American,” said Chicago resident and Morocco-born Abdel Homi. “I’m hopeful for Obama, I really don’t want to see any new wars.”
“I worry about my daughters, abortion rights, and education,” said Thompson attendee Al Lopez of Gov. Romney. “I’m here to see Obama win.”
Abdel, Lopez, and many others present in the Thompson plaza last night have had their hope that Barack Obama is re-elected President for four more years fulfilled.
And MoveOn members like Janice Humphrey, who volunteered and worked as part of the Obama “Get Out the Vote” team all the way up to the election, can rest assured their work paid off.
Robin Johnson, a finance director for an Ohio non-profit stood back away from the crowds. She voted in Ohio and then made the trek to Chicago for the rally. When asked what was most concerning to her about the election, Johnson said “Human rights, both international and nationally, specifically female human rights.”
Nationally, women’s rights have been a contested issue as many divisive comments and policies were made by Republican candidates, such as Todd Aiken’s comment about “Legitimate Rape,” and Governor Romney’s position to cut Planned Parenthood federal funding.
Three students from Illinois State University made it to the Thompson Center. Cassandra Buchignani, Shauna Ubersox, and Graziel Zagfar wanted to participate in Obama campaigning, but couldn’t find much in their Chicago suburbs. Realizing they were unable to get into McCormick place last minute, they decided to come down to the Thompson Center to participate in a Chicago rally.
Shauna Ubersox said, “I honestly don’t think that Romney has our best interest at heart whatsoever… that he has no idea what he is doing and is parodying the Republican party line.”
Graziel Zagfar, a second generation American, said “I come from an immigrant family and I don’t think he (Romney) has anybody but white men in his favor.”
When asked why she voted for Obama, Cassandra Buchignani said, “He [Obama] needs another four years to redeem himself.”
As the night progressed and CNN announced states going for Obama, the crowds cheered loudly, jumped up and down, and waived small o-shaped Obama campaign balloons.
And when results for contested states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida started to trickle in, the cheering and yelling grew louder, drawing passersby to join in from the streets.
The Thompson Center was a large hearty group, bearing the cold and cheering with every small moment of victory, fully representing Obama’s constituency as he pulled out the win.