I began my reporting in Tarzana before traveling to Beverly Hills and Pico-Robertson. After blogging and watching the early returns at Factor’s Famous Deli, I traveled over to the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa just in time for the election to be called and the Barack Obama coronation—I mean, inauguration—plans to begin. I was truly shocked by the scene, and this morning I wrote a story about how L.A. Jews took in the occasion. (Hint: Republican Jews weren’t so thrilled.)
“Let us in! Let us in!” Gabriel Rosenstein, 17, chanted with the crowd waiting outside Century Plaza Hotel & Spa in Century City, where the Obama campaign was holding its Los Angeles victory celebration.
Rosenstein and the friends who had joined him—Jesse Allis and Ben Perkins, both 17—had phone-banked against Proposition 8 at their temple and for Obama at Morgan Freeman’s office.
“This is a historic election, and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something like this,” Rosenstein said. “I didn’t want to let that pass by.”
Thousands turned out at the Century Plaza Hotel to share in the celebration. Obama’s press people said the party would begin at 8 p.m., but the Los Angeles Ballroom was full two hours before. I heard Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein were there, but had no way of confirming.
The place was a mob scene, complete with fans weeping like those who used to greet The Beatles. The lobby was teeming with thousands hoping to somehow get downstairs; thousands more waited outside in a line that snaked down Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard.
“Look around: It’s amazing the amount of excitement,” said Dmitry Kmelnitsky, 35. “Change—the country needs something new and needs to be re-energized. Sometimes you have to start with a clean slate. You want to believe he can change things.”
The crowd erupted when, at 8 p.m., just before the party officially began, CNN declared the Democratic candidate the winner.
Twenty minutes later, John McCain conceded. A campaign that had dragged on for nearly two years, that had drawn more excitement and anticipation than any election in 40 years, was over before the last voters in line in California had even cast their ballots.
At Barney’s Beanery in Santa Monica, where members of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), had gathered for a low-key election viewing, there was no partying.
“The comeback begins,” Greenfield wrote in an e-mail minutes before midnight. “Jimmy Carter led to Ronald Reagan. Obama nanny government and weakness in global affairs has been promised. I am confident we will return to the American Way soon enough. And Jewish Republicanism will continue to grow.”