Tickets for Barack Obama rally in Medford sold out

Tickets to see Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at a town hall event Saturday ran out within the first hour.

"It's been absolutely insane, and we love it," said Denise Cyr, who is helping the Obama campaign in Southern Oregon.

She said she has received 2,000 e-mails, dozens of calls and emotional moments as she told people there were no more tickets.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking, but maybe he'll come back through," she said.

When a call went out for about 75 volunteers, the Obama campaign received more than 100 responses within minutes.

Later in the day, people offered to buy tickets for as much $100 on Craigslist to see the 9:30 a.m. event at Kids Unlimited, 821. N. Riverside Ave. in Medford.

She said it was particularly difficult to tell an elderly black veteran that he couldn't get a ticket after he shared with her some of his memories.

"I was just in tears," she said.

Cyr, who didn't know how many tickets were handed out, also had difficulty getting them as well.

"I can totally sympathize, but my own daughter could not get a ticket," she said.

Cyr said Obama chose the town hall format because he wants to mix with local people more.

"He wants to hear what we the people have on our minds," she said.

Obama is making a campaign sweep through the state. He is ahead in public opinion polls in Oregon against his challenger, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

The Oregon primary will be held May 20.

Obama's visit to Portland, meanwhile, also filled up. The visit was announced Tuesday evening. noon Wednesday, all 11,000 online tickets visit were snatched up.

Local Republicans are hoping Sen. John McCain of Arizona pays a visit to the Medford area during the campaign later this year. McCain is the apparent Republican nominee for president.

Sen. Alan Bates, who is on the steering committee for the Oregon Obama campaign, said he expects the Illinois senator to arrive around 9 a.m. Saturday at the Medford airport.

The town hall will probably run about an hour, said the Ashland Democrat, then Obama will leave town shortly thereafter.

Bates said it's unfortunate that more people can't see the presidential candidate, pointing out the local reaction has caught the Obama campaign a little off-guard.

"They are surprised at the intensity and desire for people to see Obama," he said. "Everybody wants to get on it. The guy has caught fire."

Tom Cole, executive director of Kids Unlimited, said people have been trying to get tickets through his organization, but they could only be obtained through the Obama for America campaign.

"We have no control over anything," he said.

The Kids Unlimited basketball court area can hold about 1,500 people; the entire facility can house more than 2,000.

Preparation for the town hall has already begun, and Cole said a giant pad will be rolled out today to protect the wood floors on the basketball court where Obama will meet the public.

Cole said the Obama camp heard about Kids Unlimited through one of its volunteers who used to go to the popular youth activities organization.

He thinks the facility got picked because the organization represents the combined efforts of business, non-profits and faith-based organizations.

"It's truly a diverse organization," he said.

During Obama's visit, the Medford Civil Air Patrol Cadets will be the color guards.

Tim George, deputy chief of Medford police, said he couldn't discuss anything about the security involved in the Obama visit, or whether streets would be closed.

"This is a Secret Service gig and we serve them, end of story," he said. "We don't reveal any of that kind of stuff."

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