They loved him. They simply loved him. Even though he spoke for only about 11 minutes and talked mainly about giving money to the Red Cross for relief from Hurricane Gustav, Detroit loved Barack Obama on Labor Day.
Obama didn't have anything to do with the original plan, which involved the jazz festival and a Tiger game. But when we heard that he might be appearing at Hart Plaza, we thought, hey, why not? Why not get in line?
The line was incredible. We got there more than two hours before the scheduled start of the speech - and the line was 15 blocks long at that point. But we stayed with it - surrounded by people of all ages, all colors.
There was no pushing and shoving, no drinking, little line-cutting - except for the 20-something in the BMW who probably felt a little threatened when he drove down a closed Shelby Street into the crowd He ended up backing out.
Hart Plaza, according to City of Detroit event planners, has a rough capacity of 50,000 people. The crowd spilled out of the plaza several blocks onto Jefferson and Woodward - I'd guess at least 70,000 people showed up. The roar from the crowd when Obama spoke was loud and long.
The rally was at the end of Detroit's big Labor Day parade - we saw marching plumbers and sheet metal workers and sprinkler workers and teachers and huge numbers of Auto Workers. But this wasn't just a labor thing. This has the sense of a Movement.