Obama at Portland, this time

Obama Kitzhaber
President Barack Obama and former Governor John Kitzhaber at Portland/Kitzhaber campaign

Barack Obama the candidate had it two years ago when he visited Oregon, and he still has it – his campaigning orating skills are undiminished. His speech at Portland tonight, arranged principally to help Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber, was a solid rabble-rouser, which had to be exactly what the Oregon Democrats wanted.

The bulk of his talk was national in scope, making the national Democratic pitch, solidly partisan. But that’s what Democrats have needed, broadly beyond Kitzhaber’s own close campaign. Energizing the base is what Democrats need, and an event like this could send some electricity through the Portland Democratic community.

Obama’s speech included some familiar elements, like the bit about Republicans driving the car into the ditch. Some of the bits and pieces were a little less known, as when he said about Republicans that “the basis of their campaign is amnesia.” The speech was a collection of pieces, but it built powerfully toward the end.

He had some Oregon-specific material too. He did the classic politician bit (treated as a joke), about having a friend who was a Ducks fan and a brother-in-law coaching the Beavers, and saying he liked them both. He did a solid pitch for Kitzhaber – “Let’s talk about this governor’s race for a second. This should not be a difficult choice” – and ran through a number of specifics about Kitzhaber.

For his part, Kitzhaber mainly delivered a short campaign talk and then an introduction of Obama. That was a little more than just a pro forma introduction, though; he laced in specific praise about economic and health care parts of the Obama record, and expressed his support for them. He backed away from nothing.

(The congressional presence was, mostly. Both senators were there, and two House members, David Wu and Earl Blumenauer. A third Democrat whose district was close by but still a little further out, Kurt Schrader, apparently wasn’t there; was that a deliberate move tactically, or just a matter of, it wasn’t his district? The event was held within Bluemnauer’s district, and Wu’s was only about a mile away.)

It was well executed. It felt in all like an effort to bring several Democratic pieces together, with the hope significant juice flows as a result. Maybe it will.

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