News of Obama DNC speech draws 200 outside Philly’s American Revolution Museum

About 200 people eager to catch a glimpse of President Obama gathered outside the Museum of the American Revolution Wednesday night. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

About 200 people eager to catch a glimpse of President Obama gathered outside the Museum of the American Revolution Wednesday night. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Updated 11:07 p.m.

On night three of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, all eyes were on Philadelphia as former President Barack Obama gave a live address from one of the galleries at the Museum of the American Revolution in Old City.

By 8 p.m., news of his visit, which broke around 3 p.m. Wednesday, had drawn more than 200 people to the blocks surrounding the museum.

“I’m sure I will not get to see him,” said Philly resident Tammy Pullins, but she’s sticking around on the slim chance his motorcade dropped him off at the corner of 3rd and Chestnut streets where she and her son were waiting.

But the crowds did manage to get a glimpse of the former president’s motorcade before and after Obama spoke from a gallery at the museum focused on the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

His speech came just before that of vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.

About 50 people gathered outside the Museum of the American Revolution for President Obama’s DNC speech Wednesday evening. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Still, Pullins’ excitement that a woman she sees as smart and politically savvy is on the ticket, is dampened by fears that the pandemic and delays with the U.S. Postal Service will lower voter turnout.

She thinks the future of the American economy and education are riding on this election.

That’s where Pullins hopes Obama can help Wednesday night.

“He always generates some type of excitement or interest,” she said pointing to the dozens of people who were waiting for him. “I mean he’s such a popular figure.”

Kenya Collins walked from Pennsauken for his chance to see a living president for the first time and to show he was all in on the Biden-Harris Democratic ticket.

Collins described the presidential nomination process as brutal. None of the candidates really won him over.

“It’s like choosing between cancer and diabetes,” Collins said.

But with a ticket in place, he’s ready to get out the vote.

“I just want people to come out,” he said.

Hope Brodkin and her mother Ellen are ready to get that message out, too.

Hope said Wednesday was the first time she’s been in a crowd since the pandemic took hold, but she thought it was important to come to Philadelphia from Lower Merion to “show face and support.”

“It’s nice to be with other people who care about [democracy] too, especially with so much division,” she said.

The pair is very politically involved, and waded through crowds just to see Hillary Clinton receive the Democratic nomination when the convention was in Philadelphia four years ago. Ellen Brodkin got to shake the late Rep. John Lewis’ hand.

Normally, the Brodkins would be out canvassing all over the region so close to an election. This time around, Ellen is pulling back on in-person get-out-the-vote efforts because of coronavirus concerns.

Still, the mother and daughter say a pandemic can’t stop them completely. They’ve signed up for text campaigns and bought black masks that read “vote” in large white letters. They say when face-to-face interactions are limited, it’s important to get out the message to vote any chance they get.

“Our democracy really is on the line,” said Ellen. “Everything that has made us proud to be American is really at risk right now. I think it’s critical that we all get out and vote, that our vote is protected, that the results of this election are so clear cut that nobody can contest them or question what the American public wants.”

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