Tampa Obama supporters remain optimistic
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01/09/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Among the citizens most disappointed by last night’s results from New Hampshire were the Barack Obama supporters who gathered at the Hip Hop Soda Shop in north Tampa.

Dozens of people gathered in the early evening at Fowler Avenue restaurant to watch the election results and celebrate another Obama victory.

But that did not happen. Before the polls closed, however, the feeling of optimism was thick in the air as supporters discussed what they would do next to try to bring the Illinois senator the Democratic nomination.

Those who came to view the election results at the were given a sheet of paper describing 10 ways they could help Barack Obama win the nomination. Organizer Terry Watson said that will include sending volunteers to early voting primary states.

Obama’s post-partisan appeal, as some have called it, includes bringing in Independents and Republicans into his fold.

Darren Robinson is registered Independent who admits he voted for George W. Bush twice. But he says Barack Obama’s message is the right one in 2008.

Kevin Beckner is an undecided Democrat who came out to the Obama election party. Beckner, who plans to run against Republican Brian Blair for Hillsborough County Commissioner this fall, says he embraces Obama’s call for change. Beckner says Hillsborough County is ready to embrace change also.

Local supporters, who call themselves the Tampa Bay O-Train, have held regular meetings over the past year in Ybor City and St. Petersburg, as well social networking sites on MySpace and Facebook.

In the waning days of the campaign in New Hampshire, both Hillary and Bill Clinton began sniping more about Barack Obama, with the former president complaining that Obama has gotten a free ride from the media. Bill Clinton raged that the Obama campaign is "the biggest fairy tale he’s ever seen.”

Former Tampa mayoral candidate Frank Sanchez is the regional fundraising chairman for the Obama campaign and an advisor on Latin American issues. He expects that the campaign will continue to be heated throughout the primary season.

Obama has done just as well if not better than Hillary Clinton in fundraising in the past year. His campaign manager wrote in a memo today saying that Obama had raised half a million dollars alone since midnight, after his 3 point loss became official.

Sanchez said he has been besieged by financial supporters since Obamas victory last week in Iowa.

Patrick Cannon, co-chair of the Tampa Bay O-Train since last April, said most the dozens of people at the Hip Hop Soda Shop were new faces, an indication of the growing movement behind the Illinois senator’s campaign.

Echoing comments made by journalist Andrew Sullivan recently in Atlantic Magazine, Cannon said the election of a Black man who raised partly in Indonesia would be a boost to the U.S. damaged credibility around the world after seven years of the George W. Bush administration.

Erin Moyes, 25, said she chose to support Obama over John Edwards and Hillary Clinton because he came out early against the war in Iraq while still in the Illinois state Senate, as opposed to his top challengers, who voted to authorize military action.

Some Obama supporters say they plan to attend the Martin Luther King Jr. March in St. Petersburg in 12 days, saying it will be a great chance to get the word out in advance of Florida’s Jan. 29 presidential primary.

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