NYT: Calmes Remembers 'Jaw-Dropping Crowds' for Obama 5 Years Ago vs. Mitt's Small, 'Overwhelmingly White' Numbers

New York Times campaign reporter and Obama cheerleader Jackie Calmes gives President Obama a "humble brag" on Friday while with the president campaigning in the "conservative city" of Colorado Springs, "Obama Drawing Big Crowds but Not Like in '08."

The story voiced concern about a lack of enthusiasm for Romney and a reduction in enthusiasm for Obama, but also served as an excuse for nostalgia for the liberal excitement stirred by the 2008 Obama campaign, reminiscing about the "jaw-dropping crowds" that came to see Obama five years ago.

About 4,200 people of all ages and colors spread across a green at Colorado College on Thursday in this conservative city for a rally with President Obama. Hours earlier, 3,500 supporters did the same in smaller Pueblo, Colo.

Together with two events on Wednesday in Denver and Grand Junction, Colo., an estimated 14,100 people in this battleground state turned out over the past two days to cheer Mr. Obama.

Good crowds, especially compared with the hundreds that typically turn out to see Mitt Romney. But four years ago Mr. Obama often was drawing five-digit throngs, filling arenas’ nosebleed seats and overflow rooms and regularly requiring shutdown orders from the local fire marshals.

Calmes located an excuse for Obama's smaller crowds:

Big rallies are expensive, especially given the logistical and security challenges for a president as opposed to a mere United States senator. And Obama campaign operatives, both at the Chicago headquarters and in swing states where Mr. Obama recently has stumped, say the campaign intentionally limits crowds by restricting tickets. The reason is to allow the president to better connect with supporters, aides say.

Calmes noted Romney's smaller crowd numbers and pointed out that at one rally in Chicago, "a couple hundred supporters were seated and enthusiastic, but behind them factory workers stood stone-faced." Then she flipped the race card.


Romney crowds are overwhelmingly white compared with the more diverse Obama audiences, and older voters generally outnumber younger supporters.

For both candidates, then, the crowds so far make for a standard presidential race and are reflective of a more sober and frustrated electorate.

Calmes went on to list the big crowds Obama attracted while campaigning the first time around, quoting a loving AP report from February 2007, over five years ago:

Barack Obama is attracting jaw-dropping crowds at stop after stop. Democratic rival Hillary Clinton would be thrilled with her own big turnouts except that his are so much bigger. Political insiders are unsure what to make of it all: No one has seen these kinds of crowds so long before Election Day.”

Calmes continued with her own memories of Obama's vast appeal:

Yet a month later he more than doubled that, drawing 75,000 for a rally at a riverside park in Portland, Ore., with uncounted boaters crowding the river itself for a view. By mid-October in 2008, Mr. Obama drew an estimated 100,000 people to the grounds of St. Louis’s Gateway Arch. And more than 100,000 people greeted him days later in downtown Denver -- more than 25 times the number on hand Wednesday.