Teri Dorr of Medford cheers as Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., delivers his acceptance speech. - Jamie Lusch

Democrats get into spirit of Obama talk

Though they could not begin to match the volume of the thousands who packed Denver's Invesco Field in support of Sen. Barack Obama, Jackson County Democrats filled the Redrock Pizza Pasta & Italian Eatery restaurant with cheers Thursday night when he accepted their nomination for president via live television.

Close to 50 local Obama supporters enjoyed pizza and pints of beer as the Illinois senator became the first African American to accept the nomination of a major political party.

The room erupted in chants of "Obama" and "Yes we can" when Obama took the stage following an introduction by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

The 50-minute speech featured several pointed attacks on opposing Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Some of the loudest applause at Redrock came when Obama argued that McCain and President George W. Bush shared similar policies.

The speech left those in attendance satisfied that Obama has specific plans in mind to enact his policy changes.

"He brought his 'A' game tonight," said 22-year-old Victor Zamarripa. "I thought his ideas about ending the war in Iraq were the most important parts of the speech. It was touching."

Teri Dorr, of Medford, held an Obama sign high as the senator delivered the speech. She was most impressed by Obama's commitment to invest in education.

"It was electrifying," she said. "I can't imagine why people would not want to vote for Obama after hearing that speech. He was very specific about his plans to help teachers and students tonight."

Platon Mantheakis' cell phone buzzed throughout the speech as he received several calls from his friends in countries such as Greece and Tanzania who wanted to comment on Obama's performance.

"This is the first presidential candidate I've known that has been so supported by those outside this county," Mantheakis said.

Mantheakis, formerly a Republican, said both Obama and McCain are both "good guys" but Obama is the most prepared to lead the county in the right direction at this moment.

"McCain was the perfect candidate 20 years ago," Mantheakis said. "But if we elect Obama now, people 20 years from now will be saying we made the right choice."

Of course not everyone was impressed by Obama's oratory. Brianne Hyder, who is the communications director for the Oregon Republican part, said Obama still did not prove he was prepared to take residence in the White House in November.

"What we saw tonight was a lot of glitz and glamor," Hyder said. "Behind all of that we are left with a candidate who is not ready to lead this country."

Hyder credited Obama with being an "inspiring person" though that quality is not enough to make up for his government experience.

"No matter how eloquently he speaks he is still at odds with his meager record," Hyder said. "At the end of the day he still doesn't have the experience and leadership John McCain does."

Hyder is flying out today to Minneapolis-St. Paul to attend the Republican National Convention starting Monday. She is looking forward to McCain's choice for vice president and trusts he will make a good decision.

"There is no doubt his running mate will be the correct one," she said.

Obama's call to his supporters to do their part for his campaign rang true for Ashland resident Chris Len.

"The thing I admire about Obama is his ability to state what he expects from us," Len said. "I was born right when Nixon was being impeached and I never hear a presidential candidate ask me as an individual to get involved. Obama makes you feel like you can participate in this country's destiny."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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