In Edison, Choi identifies “spirit of innovation” in Obama

Catapulted by the news out of Iowa, Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters rallied across the state of New Jersey on Saturday,

Catapulted by the news out of Iowa, Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters rallied across the state of New Jersey on Saturday, from Trenton to Newark and points in between, bolstering troops and adding new numbers to their ranks.

Speaking to a juked crowd packed into the Edison Family Restaurant, Mayor Jun Choi used the proximity of his town’s Menlo Park section to draw a link between Obama and the ultimate Jersey tech-head, Thomas Alva Edison.

"For seven years, he patented more than 400 technologies that revolutionized the world," the mayor said of the Menlo Park wizard. "We can honestly say this township is the birthplace of the technological revolution because he started the technological revolution."

Mindful and proud of his town’s legacy, Choi said, "What we need in government in this country is that same spirit of innovation: a man who’s willing to work hard because there is a core set of principles and values. That’s Barack Obama."

Choi said the campaign chose the Oak Tree Road eatery right across the street from the newly opened campaign HQ because it’s a chill-out zone where Edison diehards feel at home, and the ideal spot for new members to become part of the Obama family.

"We have people who we’re still extending our hands out to, it doesn’t matter if you joined three years ago, now or in the future," said Choi. "The point is Barack Obama represents unity. He wants to take all of us into a common direction and a new direction for America."

Landing on the scene on his ricochet around the state Saturday in a quest to hit as many grassroots rallies as possible, state campaign director Mark Alexander took the mike from Choi and said, "We saw something happen on Thursday night that was truly remarkable. There are different ways to think about it: a snowball rolling downhill, gathering that momentum; that drop, that little drop in the pond that starts to ripple out; you can think about it as an earthquake perhaps in Iowa."

Having joined in the diner’s barracks-style feast that included casserole, spinach pie and pasta, Alexander said Obama’s shakeup victory in the Iowa caucuses would give the presidential candidate the necessary momentum in other primary states leading up to this crowd’s ultimate campaign head rush: New Jersey.

"An earthquake creates tsunamis, and what we’re seeing now is we had a caucus on Thursday night that was the beginning of an extraordinary wave that’s going to carry us through New Hampshire on Tuesday, into Nevada, through South Carolina, and then here on Feb. 5th and in 22 states around the country, we’re going to have the nominee for president of the United States of the Dem Party will be Barack Obama," Alexander said to applause.

In his address to the Obama supporters, the first member of the Legislature to join the ranks of Obama supporters, Assemblyman Neil Cohen said Obama’s vibe comes straight out of the school of Roosevelt and the Kennedys.

"At this time we need someone special, you need someone who is going to build a bridge brick by brick to peace through negotiation," said Cohen, a graduate of Howard University who arrived at politics through the Civil Rights era. "As Obama said, he’s not afraid of going into wars. He’s afraid of going into dumb wars."

Cohen said he likes what he believes is Obama’s diplomatic but tough approach not only on foreign policy but on domestic matters, such as healthcare reform.

"He said when we sit at the table to discuss health care coverage, everybody will be at the table, however health insurance companies and drug companies will not be buying up every chair at the table," said Cohen. "We don’t want them running the legislation that benefits their industry at the expense of the people."

It was a lovefest, Edison-style, and with Iowa overwhelming a lot of these volunteers who have trudged for months in harness to a general belief out there that the Clinton nomination is inevitable, they couldn’t resist nursing in one another the notion now of Obama’s inevitability. But lifelong campaign veteran Alexander made sure the crowd knew it could get ugly, quickly, and snapped a jab out there at the Clinton campaign to remind everyone the terrain is likely to get rough.

This country, he said, is "not like a royal family where you inherit the throne. Nobody is entitled to be president of the United States. You must work for it. But the people who believe they are entitled to it are going to work tooth and nail to stop Barack Obama, I promise you that. So what are you going to do? Are you going to get out and fight for this nomination?"

A scattershot of affirmative replies didn’t have the passion Alexander was hoping to hear and he asked the question again and again and the crowd screamed back finally to his liking and there were three days until the next barricade, and this one was called New Hampshire.

In Edison, Choi identifies “spirit of innovation” in Obama