It’s been a common refrain throughout the campaign, from supporters of Donald Trump: Look at Trump’s huge rally crowds, and look at #Hillary Clinton’s. There’s so much more enthusiasm for Trump than Clinton, that the Republican just has to win, polls be damned.
This argument has always been wildly overstated. Does Trump tend to attract larger crowds? Usually. But to argue that “no one” goes to Clinton rallies, Trump’s supporters have had to exaggerate or outright lie, defining small speeches not open to the public as “rallies,” or photographing a few people milling about long before the rally starts and calling it a “rally crowd," as in the bogus stories about the "Tim Kaine rally with 30 people" in Florida.
One night in Philly
But then there was Monday night in Philadelphia, when a crowd estimated at 30,000 turned out at Independence Mall for a rally with Hillary Clinton, along with Bill Clinton, President Obama, Michelle Obama, and a couple of top-flight musical guests: Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. That 30,000 figure, by the way, doesn’t include the thousands of others who lined up for as long as two miles.
I didn’t get into the rally proper, so I set up shop, along with about 50 other people, about a block away, where we could hear but couldn’t see. There were even about 15 people who climbed onto a parked garbage truck.
Were they all there for Bruce and not for the politicians, as Trump implied on stage earlier in the day? I wouldn’t say so. It wasn’t like anybody got up and left after Springsteen finished singing. Also, it was a diverse crowd, in terms of age, race and numerous other factors; Springsteen concerts, for all their virtues, aren’t known for that - there were nights over the years when the only African-American in the building was Clarence Clemons. When I went to a Bruce concert for John Kerry in 2004, it was much more a Bruce crowd than a political one; tonight was an Obama/Hillary crowd, all the way.
The rally was notable for something else: Positivity. No reports of fighting, or of anybody chanting for their opponent to be locked up. I also heard of no one wearing a t-shirt calling for the lynching of journalists.
The American people have a clear choice on Tuesday. Let’s all hope we choose right. #Election 2016