It was a rally for incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez, but the star of Thursday night’s event at the Hoboken train station was Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the white-hot superstar of Democratic Party.
Even before his motorcade arrived in front of the PATH train station at 5:45 p.m., there was an audible buzz in the air, the kind of baited anticipation before a rock band takes the stage.
Obama stood with Menendez, who is bidding for a six-year term, and vociferously called for a change in the country leadership.
“Americans are tired of division. They’re tired of slash and burn politics,” Obama, in a dark suit and white shirt with no tie, told the crowd. “They’re tired of the nasty tone in politics. They want us to come together around common values, common ideals, and apply some common sense and practical wisdom to the problems that the families all across the nation and all across New Jersey face.”
Obama addressed several topics, such as reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, lowering tuition for college students, Social Security reform, and raising the minimum wage.
Many observers have said that Obama could become the nation’s first African-American president.
Also on stage were Gov. Jon Corzine and Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Obama also spoke about the working to get American troops out of Iraq.
“[Americans] don’t understand how we could have sent thousands of our finest young men and women, and spent $350 billion, and somehow end up being less safe and less respected in the world,” he said. “And they ask why can’t we match the might of our military with the power of our diplomacy and the strength of our alliances. They look at what the White House has done and they say that we have had enough of this. We need a change.”
He added, “the only thing we have to do now is match up that energy, that desire, with the effort that it’s going to take in these last few days. And it shouldn’t be hard because you’ve got, right here, in New Jersey, the candidate who is going to be able to carry over that dream.”
Menendez, during a 15-minute speech, also hit on his major campaign issues: changing the leadership in Washington, and the policy when it comes to the war in Iraq.
“This election is about creating a new democratic majority in the United States Senate,” Menendez said. “This election is about changing the direction of the course of events in Iraq.”