We got there about 45 minutes before Ned was scheduled to speak, so we
relaxed, ordered a pizza, and chatted with fellow democrats. It was really cool to talk to people who'd actually seen this blog! I'd like to give shout outs to Mike Slattery (a fan of Firedoglake.com), Sten Westgard (member of the Orange Democratic Committee), and Kelly Monaghan from My Left Nutmeg.
Over a white pizza with sliced tomatoes and garlic (but not too much...we're here to talk to people, not melt their faces off), we read some campaign literature and waited for Ned to speak. The back room of Naples Pizza is a comfy little place, with forest green walls scratched with graffiti, and neon beer signs scattered about. Here's Joyce enjoying the pizza and beer...see the classy graffiti on the wall?
The chairman of DFA Link New Haven introduced Ned, and then the man himself took the mic. He spoke with a clear strong voice, and in fact didn't use the mic for the most part. He started with a joke asking if any Yalies showed up in Bridgeport today to cheer on their favorite son (Bush, of course, is a Yale grad; proving once again that wealth and influence can overcome unbridled stupidity), then went on to quote Bridgeport Mayor Fabrizzi, "He's welcome in Bridgeport, but none of his policies are working in my town; what's he doing here?"
He then discussed how his campaign evolved from focusing mostly on the war in Iraq to issues such as jobs, health care costs, education, immigration, the environment, etc. He joked about how giving part of the $90 billion tax subsidy bill to companies like Exxon/Mobil to drill for oil was "like subsidizing fish to swim". He also addressed the giant LNG platform proposed for Long Island Sound and how we can fight it.
Ned seems to have a focus and clarity that so many politicians lack. He gives plain answers to complex problems, and while not promising to immediately solve all these problems, he at least has an idea where to start. And that's a lot more than people like Joe "Stay The Course" Lieberman have been offering us. He got a huge cheer with his closing statement, about how someone told him to not jeopardize a Senate seat, and he replied, "Connecticut is a progressive state. You're not going to lose a senator, you're going to gain a democrat!" Standing ovation and loud applause from the roughly 100 people crammed into the smallish room.
I recorded the entire speech on my MP3 player, and while it's not the greatest quality in the world, you can hear what he's saying and most of the questions he was asked. If anyone wants a copy of the Lamont_04-05-2006.wav file, email me at futuredv(at)yahoo.com and I'll attach it to an email. It's about 9MB and runs 38 minutes.
UPDATE: The Ned Lamont Resource at La Resistance has a compact .mp3 version of the speech; you can listen to it RIGHT HERE. The Q&A portion of the talk is located here. Thanks Beau! Please keep in mind that the audio quality of these clips are rather low, but if you crank up the volume you'll hear everything Ned discusses. UPDATE II - Go to the link at the bottom of this article for ConnecticutBLOG, where they have excellent video of the speech and Q&A. Good work guys!
Oddly, Ned was positioned almost directly beneath a neon Budweiser sign...I hope the press photos are properly framed and cropped, or he's going to look like he's shilling for Anheiser-Busch!
Ned then spent a good 20 minutes answering questions from the attendees. Afterwards, we got in line to talk to him. We met his campaign scheduler Kim, and then we introduced ourselves to Ned. I mentioned how much Firedoglake supports his campaign, and he said he's spoken to Jane and is very happy with the support she and the members of the blog have given his campaign.
Then I asked him if he'd promise to quit politics if people ever start calling him "Bush's favorite Democrat". He laughed and said, "I don't think there's any chance of that happening." I agreed with him on that.
A student came up to Ned and asked him to autograph his copy of "Crashing The Gate". Ned said that he'd never been asked to sign a book before. As he signed it I asked him if he read it, and he said he hadn't yet. Maybe someone can send him a copy? (Click on the link and buy a book for Ned!)
I snapped this picture of him with Joyce, and afterwards she commented that he looked like a sailing guy, what with his Patagonia fleece vest and salty good looks. We asked Kim if he was a boater, and she said, "Oh yeah, he loves sailing." Joyce laughed and said, "I knew it!" She should know; we're both avid sailors on our J/30 "Full Tilt".
After we left, we discussed Lamont and his politics. We both feel certain he's the right guy for the job, and we're going to support his campaign. For more info on Ned Lamont, click on NedLamont.Com.
UPDATE - Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent has written a fine article about Lamont's appearance.
UPDATE II - CtBlogger has excellent video of both the speech and the Q&A session. Do yourself a favor and check out what Ned Lamont is going to do for the people of Connecticut, at ConnecticutBLOG