DENVER — William Cobb was going to approve of Barack Obama’s acceptence speech.
Cobb is a working man, a union man and a proud member of the party of working men and union men: the Democrat Party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
But Cobb, door-knocker, envelope-stuffer, rally-attender and all-around party activist, needed something he could take back to the white working-class voters of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who remain skeptical about Obama.
Before the Democratic nominee took the stage at Invesco Field, before a cheering crowd of 80,000 supporters, Cobb summed up what he thought Obama had to talk about in his acceptance speech.
“Economics. Economics. Economics,” said the 64-year-old man, who lost his job in a stockroom four years ago and has been delivering pizzas since then because, as he says, “No one was going to hire a 64-year-old man for a good-paying job.”
“The loyal Democrats will be with Obama,” said Cobb, who eshewed the t-shirts worn by most delegates attending the outdoor rally to dress in a shirt and tie for the final night of is party’s convention. “But the white guys who usually vote Democratic but who sometimes stray over to the Republicans, we don’t have them yet.”
The working-class white guys — and, to an even greater extent, working-class white women — in states such as Ohio. Pennsylvania, west Virginia and Kentucky voted in a series of late-season Democratic primaries for Obama’s challenger, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Cobb came to the Denver convention as a Clinton delegate. And, though he pinned his “Obama” badge on his shirt without complaint, he remained worried — not just by narrowing poll numbers, but by what he heard from friends and neighbors in Kenosha, an automaking town that doesn’t make many autos anymore.
Obama’s race — highlighted by the fact that he delivered his remarks on the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech — made the task tougher in some neighborhoods, Cobb admitted. So, too. did all the talk about Obama being a “celebrity.”
Needless to say, when Obama started riffing on economic themes, Cobb perked up.
“We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work,” said the senator from Illinois.