Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vegas

Barack Obama was back in Las Vegas this morning to speak at the 11:30am Sunday services at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God In Christ. CNN described it as a "mostly African-American" church, but the congregation present today, a full house of over 300 strong, looked nothing short of 100% African-American. The service was led by Pastor Leon Smith who started off by saying that he had decided in the last 72 hours to support Barack Obama in the upcoming caucus on Saturday. "The more I hear him speak, the more confidence I have in him," he said. "I hope he can sweep change all across this nation!" The crowd was with him, cheering and applauding as he spoke. Interestingly, he also addressed the controversy surrounding the lawsuit to close down the at-large caucus precincts, the only mention I've heard of it all weekend. Not surprisingly, Smith framed it as an attempt to dis-enfranchise workers. He stopped short of laying blame for the effort to close the precincts, however.

Senator Obama spoke at the very end of the service. He was welcomed as though he were a returning hero, with a standing ovation and affectionate cheering from the audience. After introductions, Obama stood before the podium and proceeded to give what was essentially his standard stump speech, differing little in content and style from what I heard on Friday. There were a couple notable distinctions.

First of all, gone was the 'Yes We Can' rhetoric that Obama debuted at his New Hampshire concession speech, designed to invoke Cesar Chavez in an appeal to both Nevada's labor and hispanic communities. Instead, this afternoon Obama used rhetoric that echoed another cultural leader. In the closing stanzas of his speech, he repeated "If you believe..." several times, ending with "...we can make this dream a reality." Obama references Martin Luther King, Jr. in every speech he gives ("the fierce urgency of now..."); today he did so just a little more than usual and with a bit more subtlety.

Another difference between Obama's usual speech and the one he gave at the church today was a distinct Biblical reference he used toward the end to describe his generation of black leaders; he called them the "Joshua generation." In the Bible, Joshua was Moses's apprentice, appointed by Moses to succeed him upon his death. Obama said that this new generation of black leaders could not be doing what they are without the "Moses generation" that came before them; he said the Joshua generation stands on the shoulders of the Moses generation. It was a moving analogy and one that was not lost on the crowd.

From beginning to end, the service today was tinged with the unmistakable excitement about what Barack Obama represents, namely the opportunity to make history by sending an African-American on to the Democratic nomination and ultimately to the presidency. The question remains, however, to what extent this excitement will ultimately translate to support at the caucuses next Saturday. As I was leaving I overheard a middle aged African-American woman answering a reporter's question about her impression of the event. "It was interesting," she said. "Just interesting?""I'm still undecided," she replied. The Clinton events I attended this weekend, none of which featured the candidate by the way, were disproportionately white and female, but I can't help but think Obama is going to have a harder time eating into Clinton's African-American female support than it might seem on the surface, especially with Bill Clinton on the ground here on Hillary's behalf starting tomorrow.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic nomination, Nevada Caucus (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

One day he is MLK , the next day he is JFK , the day after that he is Bobby Kennedy , the day after that he is Bill Clinton , the following week he is Ronald Reagan.....

I would like to know which is the real Barack Obama.

by lori 2008-01-13 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

And Hillary never moves and pivots her image (as well as VOTES) to appeal to differing segments of the electorate?

That's rich, especially considering how slick Bill was.

by jgarcia 2008-01-13 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

Thanks for the report. I thought when I watched his NH speech that the Yes We Can was very strongly reminiscent of Si Se Puede. After all, I generally haven't heard "Yes We Can" as a slogan much. I guess that was the point. There's nothing wrong with that, of course.

Did the pastor actually say he supported Obama during the service, or afterwards? I thought these kinds of explicit endorsements weren't allowed in church services.

by OrangeFur 2008-01-13 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

"Yes We Can" was his 2004 for campaign slogan. It was also used by Deval Patrick during his campaign for MA governor--which campaign was run by Obama's top media advisor David Axelrod.

by DPW 2008-01-13 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

To be clear, I'm referring to Obama's 2004 campaign for US Senator.

by DPW 2008-01-13 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

Okay. Though even if he was reviving it to appeal to Latino voters, I wouldn't see anything wrong with it.

by OrangeFur 2008-01-13 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

The pastor said he supported him before. In fact his exact words, according to Jon Ralston, were:

"if you can't support your own, you won't get
anywhere."

by world dictator 2008-01-14 12:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal

Keeping up with the theme of this post: [video] Obama, this afternoon, with Culinary Workers.

by blueflorida 2008-01-13 02:53PM | 0 recs
Thanks

Thanks--I really appreciate these on-the-ground reports.

by markjay 2008-01-13 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

Are you suggesting that Obama is "clearly unqualified"? If so, please explain why your candidatate--Edwards, as I understand it--is more qualified than Obama.

by DPW 2008-01-13 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

Well, that's a different proposition, since you originally claimed he was unqualified for "the job." Now, you seem to be objecting to his being qualified to represent the democratic party. Whatever. I just wonder if you have any criticism of how gender has been utilized by the Clinton campaign. Or, what about the Clinton campaign's recent mailer in NV, in which she dishonestly suggests that Obama would implement a 3 trillion-dollar tax increase on the middle class (when his tax plan actually includes a tax reduction for the middle class, yet his SS plan, assuming no "donut hole", would only affect those making more than 97k/year--hardly a measure that would affect the middle class)? Or, how about her earlier suggestion that out-of-state IA students should not participate in their caucus, despite clear permission to do so under law? Do those tactics reflect democratic ideals and priorites.

There are a dozen other moves from the Clinton campaign that shouldn't make a democrat all that proud. (Bill calling Obama a "kid," or comparing him to a talk-show host; Hillary raising the prospect of assasination, as well as her suggestion of a terrorist attack on day one; Penn, Shaheen, and Bob Johnson referring to drug use; and much, much more) but you don't seem especially bothered by these.

I don't particularly care for the way race and gender have been an issue in the campaign (and I blame both campaigns partly for this problem), however your selective outrage is silly.

by DPW 2008-01-13 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

"Hillary raising the prospect of assassination"?  Holy crap, some of you guys are really whacked.

by Steve M 2008-01-13 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

I went back and found the story, but my attribution was incorrect. It was actually someone introducing Clinton at a NH event:

Today, in Dover, Francine Torge, a former John Edwards supporter, said this while introducing Mrs. Clinton: "Some people compare one of the other candidates to John F. Kennedy. But he was assassinated. And Lyndon Baines Johnson was the one who actually" passed the civil rights legislation.

The comment, an apparent reference to Senator Barack Obama, is particularly striking given documented fears among blacks that Mr. Obama will be assassinated if elected.

Phil Singer, a Clinton spokesman said: "We were not aware that this person was going to make those comments and disapprove of them completely. They were totally inappropriate."

Mrs. Clinton's expression did not change noticeably when Ms. Torge made the comment.

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/ 01/07/civilrights/

My apologies for the misrepresentation. It was my honest recollection that Clinton had mentioned that King was assasination shortly after mentioning comparisons between him and Obama. Mea Culpa.

by DPW 2008-01-13 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

Dollars to donuts you're a white person and have no idea what real race-baiting is.

by jgarcia 2008-01-13 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

I'm black. It's race baiting. Like you've been doing the past few days on here.

I think its funny that when the mostly white liberal elitist blogosphere/media calls something racist, or writes an article making other minorities think something is racist, you don't care what color their skin is. But when it comes to defending your arguments your more than happy to dismiss the opinions of others by playing the race card.

by world dictator 2008-01-14 12:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

The Clinton people are doing whilst some people here poo poo it and minimize it.  And I call them on it.

That's not race-baiting.  That's the opposite, my friend.

by jgarcia 2008-01-14 04:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

stop whining. Nobody listens to someone who throws out race every other word. If you think the Clinton's are doing it then you should be appalled by your actions.

by world dictator 2008-01-14 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama At Pentecostal Church In Las Vega

Wow...the Clinton sock puppets really don't waste any time attacking.

Rote memorization memes at that. I see the same BS over and over and over again.

Be careful, all this frantic typing may cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

by sndeak 2008-01-13 03:55PM | 0 recs
Obama, King, LBJ, Clinton, Moses and Joshua

It seems to me that Martin Luther King, like his model Gandhi before him, had good reasons for eschewing politcal office. To campaign for, never mind to hold or wield, politcal power was incompatible with the fundamentally moral and ethical movements King and Gandhi inspired and led. Compromising and bargaining, marshalling support through log-rolling and other less than pure methods: these are the stock-in-trade of politicians in democratic societies. But they are not the strongpoints of great moral leaders, like Dr. King.

Hillary Clinton was thus not off base, nor insulting to Dr. King, when she claimed that it took a practical politician like LBJ to turn at least some of Dr. King's vision from a dream into a reality. After all, Clinton and Obama are running for LBJ's old job, not MLK's.

There are other reasons why I think it is totally inappropriate for Obama to try and posture himself as Dr. King's heir. First of all, moral leaders like King and Gandhi don't have heirs. Their authority is not transferrable to anyone, least of all to a politician running for office. When Jesse Jackson tried to embroider the story of Dr. King passing on his mantle to him in his dying moments, I found it equally distasteful and unpersuasive. And Jackson was at least there when King was assassinated in 1968, not a child as was Obama.

Jackson's claim, essentially, was that HE was Joshua to King's Moses. As I said, as absurd and shamelessly self promotional as Jackson's claim was, at least it had the virtue of plausibility. But King certainly did not "appoint" the then-elementary school student Obama to succeed him, as Moses did Joshua. And, in any event, we do not pick our political leaders in this way, as did the ancient Hebrews. A "moving analogy?" I don't think so.

I also find the whole thing to be kind of creepy. The references to King strike me as ghoulish and opportunitic. And, please, could Obama and the Obamaites please knock off the Biblical BS. If I wanted to hear that crap I would be a Republican. And someone tell Oprah to shut up about Obama being the "chosen one." I didn't choose him.

by freemansfarm 2008-01-13 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama, King, LBJ, Clinton, Moses and Joshua

When and where exactly did Obama say he was MLK's heir?

Now you're just making shit up.

by jgarcia 2008-01-13 05:01PM | 0 recs
anyone who can write this comment...

should know that Obama is talking about the Joshua generation and that there has never been any positioning as the "heir" to MLK or as Joshua.  Like the larger Democratic Party, the AA community is debating a generational change.  You're pretty sensitive to a little rhetorical flourish.  

by mboehm 2008-01-13 06:15PM | 0 recs
making it up

"When and where exactly did Obama say he was MLK's heir? Now you're just making shit up."

As should have been obvious to you (because of my clear paraphrasing and use of a direct quote), this is what I was responding to:

"In the closing stanzas of his speech, he repeated 'If you believe...' several times, ending with '...we can make this dream a reality.' Obama references Martin Luther King, Jr. in every speech he gives ('the fierce urgency of now...'); today he did so just a little more than usual and with a bit more subtlety.

"Another difference between Obama's usual speech and the one he gave at the church today was a distinct Biblical reference he used toward the end to describe his generation of black leaders; he called them the 'Joshua generation.' In the Bible, Joshua was Moses's apprentice, appointed by Moses to succeed him upon his death. Obama said that this new generation of black leaders could not be doing what they are without the 'Moses generation' that came before them; he said the Joshua generation stands on the shoulders of the Moses generation. It was a moving analogy and one that was not lost on the crowd."

According to this report, Obama references MLK in every speech, did so even more in this speech, and specifically and repeatedly used the "dream" language most often associated with Dr. King. Moreover, Obama's use of the Moses/Joshua "analogy" was obviously meant as a comparison of his relationship with Dr. King. And, finally, Obama's proprietary stance towards Dr. King in the flap with Hillary about her LBJ/MLK comments shows that he thinks of himself, in my view inappropriately, as Dr. King's heir.

Obama cites Dr. King at every turn; he imitates (unconvincingly) Dr. King's soaring rhetoric. Obama leaps to MLK's defense (as if Dr. King needed it) when Hillary Clinton was impertinent enough to point out that it took a politician to help make King's vision a reality.

Really, Obama has imbued himself with Dr. King's language and legacy at every turn. I think it is totally disingenuous for you to say that I am "making shit up" when I point that out.

by freemansfarm 2008-01-13 05:36PM | 0 recs
I am not "anyone"

"Anyone who wrote this comment should know that Obama is talking about the Joshua generation and that there has never been any positioning as the "heir" to MLK or as Joshua.  Like the larger Democratic Party, the AA community is debating a generational change.  You're pretty sensitive to a little rhetorical flourish."

And you're pretty obtuse to a politician obviously positioning himself as the heir to a great moral leader. Again, Obama quotes Dr. King in every speech. He mimicks his rhetoric. He acted as if he owned the "franchise" on MLK in his response to Hillary Clinton's comments about Dr. King and LBJ. And, why mention Moses and Joshua except to "appoint" himself as "Moses'" (clearly, Dr. King's) successor?

And, as far as I can tell, "the larger Democratic Party" is NOT debating a "generational change." This is just another phony "meme" put forth by the Obamaites.

by freemansfarm 2008-01-13 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama At Church

Obama at a Pentecostal Church.

WRONG.  We already know he can preach, and especially to the choir.  He needs to show he can be specific and programmatic.  A day in church is a wasted day for Obama whjose problem is that he is cast now (and well by the Clinton campaign) as high on sermonizing and low on governing experience.

Clinton was able to shift gears just in time in NH.  Does Obama have more than one gear?

by Thaddeus 2008-01-13 06:46PM | 0 recs

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