For Obama supporters at CNN event, ‘nothing compares’ to Grant Park

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant Campus Editor

CHICAGO — For many gathered at CNN’s public watch party for Election Night in Chicago, President Obama’s ticketed event at McCormick Place was simply not an option.

The news network put up a large screen on the Thompson Center in the Loop and started showing election coverage this afternoon.

Some attendees expressed disappointment that the president did not select a more accessible venue for his second Election Night rally in Chicago. In 2008, tens of thousands of Chicagoans flooded Grant Park to hear Obama’s victory speech.

Northern University student Thylecia Berry said the atmosphere at Grand Park four years ago was much different from that of tonight’s CNN event.

“You could just feel the love that night,” she said. “Everybody had hope. You hugged strangers you didn’t even know.”

Berry said she volunteered for the Obama campaign on Saturday, but it was too late to earn tickets for the private McCormick Place watch party.

Holding an illuminated Obama sign, Chicago resident Jessica Hanton said she did not even try to get a ticket for the president’s event.

“I wasn’t able to help campaign,” Hanton said. “But I was able to give the president my vote.”

Hanton was unable to attend the president’s Election Night event in 2008 because she did not yet live in the Chicago area. She said she was disappointed that the president did not throw an election party at a more public venue again this year.

Chicago resident Anthony Johnson said he was drawn to Tuesday’s event because watch parties have a “sense of camaraderie.” He also was at Grant Park in 2008.

“Nothing compares to that,” Johnson said. “That was groundbreaking.”

Johnson was one of many Obama-supporting attendees at the CNN event. He cheered loudly whenever the CNN coverage reported the president ahead in the votes and booed when GOP candidate Mitt Romney reportedly won states.

Johnson seemed confident that Obama would win again tonight.

“This will be the icing on the cake,” he said.

— Cat Zakrzewski