Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Will Barack Obama find his ‘New Frontier’ in the home of the NFL Broncos?

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Originally published on on Thu, 08/28/2008 – 10:36am

There was the story of a young presidential candidate who many wondered whether he was ready to lead. To rally the supporters and potential voters, the campaign decides to hold the acceptance speech in a football stadium.

Barack Obama in 2008? Try John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Yes, Kennedy gave the speech where he introduced the “New Frontier” in the legendary Los Angeles Coliseum.

In 1960, the Coliseum was home to two pro football teams, the Los Angeles Rams (NFL) and the brand new Los Angeles Chargers (AFL); two college football teams, the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins; and baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB).

Rosalind Wyman of California, who is at the DNC in Denver, was a Los Angeles City Council member in 1960 and wanted the speech to be seen by more people. The Los Angeles Coliseum can hold more than 100,000 people, so they closed off the stadium at half capacity so it wouldn’t look empty.

Well, Obama won’t have any trouble filling Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium tonight. The capacity of the stadium, also the home of the Denver Outlaws of the Major Lacrosse League, is 76,125, so that will be one step up on Kennedy.

If anything, having a speech in an NFL stadium is more dramatic now. Besides the considerably larger potential TV and Internet audience Obama will have, the NFL is tremendously more popular than it was in 1960. So the mystique of having the speech in a stadium where numerous NFL stars have played since 2001 adds to the potential magic.

Of course, the press will be much harder on Obama in 2008 than JFK in 1960. And given how well Obama has spoken in the past, the pressure will be on to deliver an incredible speech.

With perhaps less pressure, Kennedy did give a really good speech:

“We stand today at the edge of a New Frontier — the frontier of the 1960s — the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, the frontier of unfulfilled hopes and unfilled threats. … The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises; it is a set of challenges.”

The unofficial theme of the 2008 Democratic National Convention is a time for change, a different direction. Kennedy found it in the New Frontier; Obama will have to find out what that is for him and for the voters in 2008. And while the press will be extremely judgmental, at least Obama won’t have to dodge any defensive linemen or a safety blitz as he navigates a crucial moment in the campaign on a football field.


Written by democracysoup

August 28, 2008 at 10:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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