Click the play arrow to see a slide show and listen to Barack Obama’s opening remarks.

Thousands of people packed the Hartford Civic Center (recently renamed the XL Center) on Monday to see Illinois Senator Barack Obama speak at a rally just one day before the Super Tuesday Democratic primary, which includes Connecticut.

More than an hour before the event, state Rep. Jason Bartlett of Bethel, who heads New York Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Connecticut, emerged from the basement of the Civic Center with an Obama press pass. Bartlett said he was there getting his candidate some air time on WTIC, which was broadcasting live from the event.

Asked if the big crowd for Mrs. Clinton’s rival worried him, he said, “It’s what I expected. It doesn’t equate to victory.”

At Mrs. Clinton’s invitation-only event held Monday morning at Yale, Bartlett said she was able to have a “substantive policy debate” with a crowd of about 200 people. “You can’t have that conversation with thousands of people,” Bartlett said.

Rep. William Tong of Stamford, who was the first state legislator to announce his support for Mr. Obama, seemed clearly annoyed at Mr. Bartlett’s presence at the rally.

Mr. Tong said Mr. Obama is a far better candidate than Mrs. Clinton because he can “unify the country when we really need it.” He said Mrs. Clinton is trying “to be all things to all people,” and Mr. Obama is “talking about bringing people together.” He said the invite-only event Monday in New Haven is just one example of how Mrs. Clinton is exclusive, while Mr. Obama is inclusive and wants to bring everyone to the table to solve these problems. Mr. Tong compared Mr. Obama to Abraham Lincoln, another famous Illinois senator who had little political experience before becoming president.

Political analyst Bill Curry said clearly these are two very smart candidates with nearly identical views. He said the debate as he sees it defaults to “questions of style, perceived character, and talent.”

He said Mrs. Clinton is a very electable candidate, but the problem is that Mr. Obama seems more electable, even though he hasn’t served in elected office as long as Clinton. He said there was a time when no one could parse words as well as the Clintons, and then Mr. Obama came along and “filleted the Clinton campaign like a catfish.”

Mr. Curry, who served as an advisor in Bill Clinton’s administration, was unwilling to tell us who he’d vote for tomorrow in the Democratic primary. However, he said he has a number of media appearances lined-up for Super Tuesday, so he’s bound to spill the beans at some point.

Click here to the New Haven Independent’s report on the rally.