The Washington Times - January 31, 2008, 07:43PM

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\ LOS ANGELES — At a time and place where presence is everything, Sen. Barack Obama won the pre-debate festivities with a large and boisterous crowd of supporters.\ \ \ They chanted, banged drums, danced and waved signs and drowned out many of Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s supporters’ cheers.\ \ \ \ \ The presence was a well-orchestrated effort that included both sign management and rally directing in true Hollywood style. Obama volunteers with earpieces directed late attendees to fill in spots along the railing of the second floor outside the Kodak Theater, telling them Clinton signs were getting too heavy in that area.\ \ \ They barked direction as well, telling some to move out of the way to make room for new supporters and made sure the loudest Obamaniacs were seen by the TV cameras filming.\ \ \ Here’s one scene:\
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\ \ \ Rosa Garcia, a Clinton supporter from Los Angeles standing on the sidelines, said the big Obama presence gave her a bit of a scare but she still thinks Clinton will win California on Tuesday. “If we want a better country we need Hillary. I know she’s got a lot of support,” she said.\ \ \ I asked Sean Sweeney, the 36-year-old actor seen in that top photo, if he was such a “cool” person. His response: “I’m just holding this for somebody.” He also dismissed polls showing Clinton the lead in the Golden State. “She’s a brand name. Obama is going to win,” he said.\ \ \ As far as debate settings go, Charleston was pretty great, but this one tops the rest. After the brutal cold in all four early contests — even Nevada and South Carolina! — I’m thrilled to see some sunshine in my home state.\ \
\ Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times