Historic election inspires excitement in Columbians

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | 12:57 a.m. CST; updated 1:03 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 5, 2008
From left to right, Grant Watkins, Stuart Peterson, Brian Roach and Anjali Pinto celebrate the news that Barack Obama was elected president on Nov. 4, 2008, at a watch party at the Blue Note.

COLUMBIA — After an election that garnered one of the highest turnouts in Columbia's history, at watch parties scattered around the city, residents of Columbia welcomed the new President -elect Barack Obama with excitement and cheers.

On Tuesday, The Blue Note, a regular home to Democratic watch parties, opened its doors at 6:30 p.m. and let in about 700 people over the course of the evening, according to Evan McKinney, who was in charge of door security. While many were not expecting to see an acceptance speech before the calendar page turned, McKinney described the crowd as "ecstatic" when the race was called around 10 p.m.

"I am completely speechless," Myah Greene, 19, said. "This is a wonderful thing that I just took part of. This is the greatest thing that's ever happened to America. I do believe we made history tonight, basically, with the first African-American president ever elected into the United States, and this is just a ... I'm just speechless."

Enthusiasm was running high in the crowd consisting of many young people hanging around The Blue Note after Obama was announced the winner.

Tina Smith, 25, said: "Since growing up, everybody's like ‘Oh, you can be president, you can do whatever you want to,' but in the society we live in, we know that that's not a hundred percent true. Well with Barack Obama becoming president, it's true. You can do anything."

Obama stepped onstage at Grant Park in Chicago while a clapping, cheering, whistling and thumping crowd at The Blue Note watched on a big-screen television.

When Obama began talking about how "change has come to America," and "a new dawn of American leadership is at hand," and when he mentioned his wife, Michelle Obama, the crowd really went wild.

Rose Wise, another spectator at The Blue Note, called the speech "empowering" and "inspiring."

"When he went over the elderly, 106-year-old woman's life, I just dissolved into tears," Wise said.  "It just proved that a nation can change, a people can come together and do something pretty amazing."

Across town at a Republican watch party at the Stoney Creek Inn, the feeling in the room wasn't quite as jovial. Ed Robb, who ran and lost the race for 24th District State Representative, said he was very wary of the new President-elect.

"I don't like his platform. I don't like his ideas about taxation. I don't like his ideas about energy. We have some real problems," Robb said. "It's a new perspective but there are some real problems."

Despite their positions and their party affiliations, many voters who spoke with the Missourian on Tuesday expressed their excitement about finally getting the chance to participate in history by casting a ballot in what many consider a groundbreaking election.

"It's huge. Everybody is talking about it," Matt LaVeille, 18, said of the race that has been going on for nearly two years. "The way the economy is now, it's huge that everybody gets out and votes. We need change, I believe. ...It's the first black guy that has a really good shot at being president, and the first woman running for vice president. I've never seen anybody this eager to go out and vote in any election since I was born."  

Missourian reporter Hayley Tsukayama contributed to this report.

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John Schultz November 5, 2008 | 10:27 a.m.

Not to bag on the youth of the country, but Sarah Palin was not the first woman to run for vice president. Heck, she wasn't even the only woman to run for VP this year (the Green Party's slate were both females, for instance). Geraldine Ferraro ran with Mondale back in the 80s and Toni Nathan of the Libertarian Party ran back in 1972 I believe, and remains the only third party in quite some time to receive an electoral vote (a Nixon elector did not case his vote that way).

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