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Reporter's Notebook: Democrats can party
By GIL HOFFMAN
07/11/2012
Obama supporters cheer results on giant screen, dance to oldies.
 
CHICAGO – Even if Republican challenger Mitt Romney had emerged victorious in Tuesday’s US presidential election, chances are US President Barack Obama’s party in Chicago would have been more fun.

I was one of dozens of reporters from around the world who streamed into Chicago’s McCormick Place to watch thousands of Obama supporters applaud results on a massive screen and dance to oldies from the 60s.



At 10:18 p.m. Chicago time, CNN declared Obama the winner, and everyone around me erupted in applause and waved the American flags on wooden stick that were distributed to the crowd.

Crystal Johnson from Tinley Park, Illinois, came to the event dressed in an American flag shirt and jumped for joy, despite her 65 years of age.

“Our dreams have come true,” she told me. “We’re gonna have a beautiful four more years.”

Shortly after the results were announced, the loudspeaker played Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and the entire crowd joined in. Even the reporters started dancing, leaving objectivity by the wayside. Another reporter from Israel and I, however, just kvetched about the lack of functional wi-fi that prevented us from working and tweeting.

The crowd waited patiently for Obama’s arrival. When he came out with his wife and children to the Stevie Wonder song “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” the audience exploded in rapture and said “Amen” to every sentence.

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The Israeli reporters waiting for him to mention the Jewish state left disappointed. He talked about the middle class, not the Middle East. Outside, a group of Muslim men from India took pictures in front of the building and celebrated.

“We are happy because Obama will bring peace to the entire world,” said Sayed Mukaram, who recently moved from Mumbai to Skokie, Illinois.

Not far away, a group of Republican Jews mourned in a downtown Chicago apartment.

While some expressed fear for Israel’s future, others looked ahead and pledged their support to Obama. Joe Smith from Oak Park, Illinois, said he was worried that Iran’s nuclearization will not be at the top of Obama’s priorities “It wasn’t a resounding victory,” he said. “He still has a Republican Congress that doesn’t want to work with him.”

But Barry Axler of Chicago said he hoped Obama will be more understanding of Israel in his second term.

“We have to unite behind our president,” Axler said. “It was a hard-fought election and we have a winner and a loser in a democracy, and now I just hope that both America and Israel will succeed.”
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