Obama and Clinton Supporters Hit Union Square


Stephen Salvia says he thinks Obama doesn’t have the wisdom and experience to be president.

“Yaaaaaaaay, America!” was the sarcastic war cry of a 20-something skateboarder today as he exited the Union Square subway and swam through a hoard of Hillary and Obama volunteers.

“Vote for Hillary!” a woman yelled to a passing crowd of four-year-olds on a field trip. No luck there. She tried again, a little louder: “Vote for Hillary!”

“No thanks — I’m a Democrat,” snapped a man with a frightening resemblance to the elder Paul Teutel of “American Chopper.”

But there was some genuine political support today among the lunchtime rush-hour traffickers at Union Square.

“Good morning!” one volunteer kept saying, despite the post-noon status, as if to remind people that the day was still young and ripe with time to vote.

“We’ve gotten some great enthusiasm,” said local playwright and actress Danai Gurira, who was handing out flyers for Obama.

Gurira didn’t plan to volunteer this afternoon. She had already worked her local polling station this morning, and was rushing through breakfast at Union Square’s Whole Foods so she could get back home to her writing. But as she looked down on the commons, she had a frightening realization: all the sign-holders there were for Hillary.

This was no mistake, she learned when she called a local Obama organizer — the campaign was purposefully concentrating volunteers near the biggest polling sites, none of which are around Union Square.

“Still, I decided we needed to be represented here,” Gurira said, “so I came down to let people know there’s an alternative to the establishment — a viable and powerful alternative.”

It’s a good thing she did. The park’s politicos, all standing around the main subway entrance at the park’s southwest corner, were overwhelmingly pro-Hillary. Eight held traditional red, white and blue Hillary signs, while 12 International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) members sported black and yellow “IUPAT for Hillary” gear.

“We’re a union, she’s pro-union, and this is a union town,” bridge painter Stephen Salvia gave as an explanation for IUPAT’s support of Hillary. “Everything she does as a Democrat is stuff that’s fallen through the cracks with the Republicans.”

But Salvia’s 12-hour volunteer shift for Hillary doesn’t mean he opposes Obama, he said.

“I give him great credit for what he’s done,” Salvia said. “He’s got great ideas, he’s a fantastic speaker, and I think there’s a lot of potential there, but it’s a little too early in terms of age and wisdom. As a second to Hillary, he can learn from her and Bill, but he needs a little polishing. Now if she wins now and he decides to run again in four years, she’s going to have her hands full.”

The Obama cluster would beg to differ, although there had been no direct confrontations — the volunteers were as friendly and detached from each other as the politicians themselves were in the last debate.

“It’s alright – we don’t mind them,” Gurira said. “Plus, they look big and luring, while we look lovely and welcoming.”

Like Gurira, Obama volunteer Eric Mill was purely positive. “Real change, y’all! Yes we can!”

Mill was in good spirits because as a long-time Obama supporter, he’s finally seeing vast support.

“I find it fascinating that since Obama has caught on, it’s been like wildfire, as if people have really been looking for a way to look beyond Hillary,” Mill said. “I think we need to look at the reasoning behind why so many people are eager for change.”

And while Mill conceded that the Clinton campaign has a larger pool of volunteers in Hillary’s home state, he said the Obama campaign is doing just fine, thank you very much.

“I visited headquarters yesterday and early this morning, and it’s really crazy there,” he said. “They have a lot of people coming in, making last-minute donations, the phone banks are very full, and they’re deploying people to as many stations around the city as possible … There’s a lot of emotion and chaos and people getting really stressed and harried – all the signs of a really organized campaign.”