It's a frigid Sunday night with a wind chill that feels as low as Fred Thompson's latest New Hampshire poll numbers. But hundreds of Barack Obama supporters came out anyway to see him headline a low-dollar fund-raiser at the Park Plaza Castle.
Obama ran through a condensed version of his stump speech that included the requisite unspoken allusions to rival Hillary Clinton. The contrasts, or his version of them, will be familiar to anyone who's followed the Democratic primary race closely: He represents change, she represents more of the same; he's the Washington outsider determined to challenge conventional thinking; she's the insider who believes she is owed the presidency.
Critics say Obama won't know what hit him if he's the nominee and the Republican candidate launches a fierce assault. But if that happens, Obama vowed tonight, he will "go right at them."
"I believe that the American people are tired of the politics of fear -- they want the politics of hope," he said. "We're going to stop talking about fear and start talking about the future."
Tonight's crowd -- 2,100 people, according to Obama's campaign -- was young, but not exclusively so. Signs read "BU for Barack," "Fired Up," "Boston for Obama," and "Believe."
Susan Moulton, a 61-year-old consultant from Winchester, came away impressed, if not fully convinced Obama's her candidate. "I'm really waiting for one of the Democrats to get me," she said.
But Susan Keller, 60, a Harvard University employee, is sold, because, she said, he does "none of this word-dancing stuff. I like the clarity a lot."
Tonight's event was one of four fund-raisers Obama has packed into today and tomorrow. Earlier today, he held an event at Fenway Park for donors who had already given some money to his campaign but not the maximum. He's also holding an event for young professionals tonight at the club Venue, and a breakfast with business leaders tomorrow morning.