Barack Obama was in Zanesville, Ohio to tour a religiously affiliated charity center. It was a closed event open only to the press and staffers of the center. It was an event to promote his faith and community initiative that would give government funds to non-profits even if they’re religiously affiliated. Zanesville is about 1 hour 15 minutes away from Athens, so guess who got to go to the event!? Me!
We arrived at the event at 9am. I was assigned to assist the press with anything they needed. They didn’t need anything so I just stood around and took in all the excitement. One thing about campaigns that isn’t mentioned is that there is a huge disparity between the treatment of local and national press. The local press arrived a couple of hours early to the event and sat in the sun waiting for Obama’s caravan. They had to check in at the gate and get mag’d (the magnetic thing that is swiped up and down your body at the airport) by a secret service agent. The national press travels with Obama in two coach buses, walks straight through the security gate, gets a covered canopy with tables and outlets to plug in their laptops, receives a catered lunch AND dessert, follows Obama during his tour of the center, and gets to sit in the front row while the press conference occurs.
I enjoyed the look of disdain so evident on the local press. I’m sure they noticed the likes of Richard Wolffe and Lee Cowan like I did. Richard Wolffe writes for Newsweek and is a contributor for MSNBC making appearances on Hardball and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. He has a black macbook pro and only drinks regular coffee. Lee Cowan is an NBC Nightly News reporter and wears what looked like cowboy boots. He’s really tall too.
But nothing excited me more than getting to meet Barack Obama! And I don’t just mean watching his press conference from 20 feet away. After the event, we were escorted to the back of the building and inside a garage which was used as a food pantry. Senator Obama came out of a door and immediately greeted us with a very excited, “Hello Fellows!” He walked up to us, shook each of our hands individually while asking each of us our names and where we were from. Everyone who says his hands are soft is telling the truth. We then posed for a picture together. He said keep up the hard work and good luck, waved his hand, and said his goodbye. Each one of us was in shock afterwards. I can only liken it to when the Giants won the Superbowl but that doesn’t even come close. MY BOSS IS SO AWESOME!!!! On with the campaign!