Obama could take lessons from Frank Hague in drawing big crowds

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When Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama makes his acceptance speech Thursday as the grand finale to his party's convention, he hopes to draw at least 76,000 supporters to Denver's Invesco Field to cheer him on.

As the late Frank Hague might have said: Is that all?

Hague, the famously powerful and infamously corrupt mayor of Jersey City from 1917 to 1947 and a Democratic political boss whose clout reached into the White House, probably would have been appalled at such a paltry turnout.

Seventy-six years ago, Hague turned out an estimated 100,000 people to cheer and sing the praises of New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic Party's newly knighted presidential nominee, as he launched his national campaign in -- of all places -- Sea Girt.

The Aug. 27, 1932, rally on the grounds of the National Guard training center brought national attention to the tiny seaside community, which at the time boasted it was "the Summer Capital of New Jersey." It earned Hague the awe of politicians, the press -- and, most of all, Roosevelt -- for his ability to turn out a crowd on demand.

The rally was actually the second of three huge political events Hague conducted at Sea Girt over a 12-year span to demonstrate his political power statewide and nationally....

"From a New Jersey point of view, this was a turning point for Hague. The rally absolutely overwhelmed Roosevelt and the turnout absolutely convinced him Hague was a powerful figure in the New Jersey Democratic Party," said author and historian Thomas Fleming, a Jersey City native."Roosevelt made a deal with Hague that from then on, assuming he won, Hague would be the guy he dealt with in New Jersey."

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