Why do people have Obama fever?

February 20, 2008 6:11:13 PM PST
In 24 hours, more than 31,000 Texans came out to see Barack Obama in person. Tuesday, the lines outside Toyota Center in Houston formed hours before the Obama rally.

With ten primary victories in a row, Obama is attracting huge crowds. It's not policy that's drawing them near, but the man himself.

And it's frustrating his opponent.

Hours after the huge Toyota Center crowd dispersed, volunteers streamed through the door at Obama's downtown headquarters, still glowing from the rally.

Mae Snell volunteered as soon as the office opened.

"I immediately dropped what I was doing and came down here," she said.

And when we asked what it was about Obama that so excited her, it was as it is with many Obama supporters. She liked the idea of the man and not just his policies. She somewhat shyly admitted the rally was like a religious experience for her.

"It was like all the people, like you know at Jesus' feet," Snell said. "We'll be sitting at his feet and listening to his words of wisdom and that's how it was. Like sitting at the feet of a wise man and listening to his wisdom."

That is not something you hear much in politics these days and it is one of the great frustrations for Obama's opponents.

Critics say when he speaks in person or on TV, he is selling an unspecified vision that is heavy on hope and light on policy. Opponents say it is a lack of experience.

"In my experience, my growing up in government, it just takes longer than what Sen. Obama's been at to get the nuances," said Clinton supporter Henry Cisneros. "Particularly in this dangerous world situation we are in where there's little margin for error."


But after hearing about Mae Snell and her near religious experience, we sought out two prominent Houston ministers who both support Obama to find out what it is about this campaign that attracts such devotion.

"I don't think Barack Obama is attracting people as much as the hope that he inspires is attracting people," said Obama supporter Rev. DZ Cofield. "To me, hope should not dictate policy, policy should not dictate hope."

They agree that Obama's attraction just may be the one thing his opponents are most frustrated with.

"It just may be better that he has not become flavored by setting policies, but instead he speaks principles and values," said Obama supporter Rev. Bill Lawson.

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