An estimated 8,500 Obama supporters fleshed out the grassy knoll in front of Elm Street School Saturday for a stop by President Obama.
That number, provided by Nashua Fire Marshal Cynthia Bautista, could make this the largest political rally in New Hampshire history, beating Oprah/Obama in 2007, according to WMUR political analyst James Pindell.
Justin Kates, Nashua's Director of Emergency Management said another 400 were turned away at the gate once the space was to capacity.
Those who made it in got a reprieve from the usual canned musical campaign fare – opening for Obama was singer/songwriter James Taylor, who the Obama thanked for "hitting the campaign trail hard" over the past few months.
Taylor arrived on stage about 1 p.m. and played a series of his better known songs, with just a little banter in between.
Just before 2 p.m. Obama took the stage and, in about 20 minutes, made his best pitch to Granite Staters for their support on Election Day.
"Ten days, New Hampshire," Obama said to the crowd, doing the Election Day math, as he hit all his salient points, building to a crescendo of campaign promises that included his commitment to women, the elderly, preserving Social Security, and moving the country forward.
"We need to build on policies helping us to make progress all over the country," Obama said, adding that citizens don't need policies that are "reckless and wrong" we but rather "steady and strong."
"You can vote for policies that will turn back the clock 50 years for immigrants and women and gays or in this election you can stand up for that basic principle enshrined in our founding documents," Obama said.
"No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you can make it in America," Obama said. "New Hampshire, we've been through tough times before and we are tough. We always come out on top... our destiny isn't written for us it's written by us."
Obama talked about the progress made in the past four years.
"The unemployement rate is falling, manufacturing is coming back to our shores, our assembly lines are humming again, housing prices are starting to pick up... we've got a lot of work to do, but New Hampshire, the country has gone to far for us to turn back now," Obama said.
Mitt Romney's campaign issues a response almost immediately following the rally.
“Today’s desperate attacks are laughable coming from a President whose only plan for a second term is to recycle the failed policies of the last four years while raising taxes by $2 trillion," said Ryan Williams, a campaign spokesman.
"As governor, Mitt Romney worked with Democrats to close a $3 billion deficit, balance four budgets while cutting taxes 19 times, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and lower the Massachusetts unemployment rate to 4.7%. President Obama is the only candidate in this race who has raised taxes on America’s middle class. As president, Mitt Romney will bring real change to Washington. His pro-growth agenda will strengthen the middle class, add 12 million new jobs, and finally deliver a real recovery,” Williams said.
The city finally settled on Elm Street for the rally after several other more obvious venues, including Stellos and Holman stadiums, and Greeley Park, were ruled out for various reasons.
In two days the city mapped out a logistical plan that included road closures and a way to ease the potential parking crunch by organizing shuttle buses from two locations.
Still, many opted to park in non-sanctioned local parking lots which were filling up hours before Obama's arrival, and several tow trucks were spotted circling for – and removing – violators.
At least three hours before the 2 p.m. rally, a long line snaked its way from Elm Street down to Main Street. However, once the line started moving, before noon, people were able to find limited space on bleachers and ample standing room.
Shuttles were waiting on Main Street to return people back to the parking locations. Traffic following the rally continued to be heavy in the downtown.
"Everything went smooth from our end," said First Student shuttle bus driver Jimmy Davis, who got the call Friday afternoon that 20 drivers were needed for the event.
He was happy for the overtime.
"Traffic was a little bit of a problem, but overall, I'd say things went about as good as they could have gone," Davis said.