After Senator Clinton successfully cut his North Carolina lead to mere points, Senator Obama made an unexpected return to the Tar Heel state to reclaim what is left of his dwindling lead. The effect of Obama's slow response to his pastor controversy has cost him, not only votes in the upcoming primaries but possibly the nomination, in spite of his insurmountable delegate lead. In an effort to stop the slow bleed, Senator Obama met with workers of CREE, in Durham, NC. A manufacturer of LED (light emitting diodes), according to employee Gary Trott, "I found out this morning he would be here. Energy efficiency seems to be what he's excited about..you know more permanent solutions not stop gaps."
I had originally planned to go see Michelle Obama, at the University in Fayetteville, on Monday, but received an email Monday morning, that the Senator would be making a return trip. Following the two camps has definitely been a journey. I started my day on Sunday at 6:30 A.M., and drove to small towns in the "hill country" of North Carolina, to trail Bill Clinton. I ended in Fayetteville. After learning Senator Obama would be back in NC, I retooled my plans and hi-tailed it to Durham, and believe you me, dat twernt teazy. There are highway patrol officers just waiting for hi-tone yankees to go a nano mile over their speed limit. I was caught in some speed trap and now may have to return to the poor man's version of Mayberry. I wasn't speeding, I was confused and going slow to find my way to civilization, and some... Back to the regular scheduled program.
I'm now sitting among the traveling press covering Senator Obama. There are folding tables, chairs and electrical strips set out for our lap tops. I'm sitting next to Mike Paule from the NY Times, he asked if I thought Bill Clinton hurt Hillary. On my right, is an old man from A.P. who is so close to his screen that he's hurting my eyes. I guess A.P. doesn't a vision plan. Behind me, is Amy Rice, who's been traveling with Senator Obama the longest.
She's been with him since '06, before he announced his presidency. She even went to Africa with him. Oh it's nothing like that, at least, as far as I know. Anyway, she's shooting a documentary on his candidacy, which is produced by the actor Ed Norton's company. I already suggested she scratch the title, "War Room." She wouldn't talk on the record about the campaign, but I'm hoping after a sip of moonshine I got from the hill country she'll forget herself. I'll keep you posted.
Back to the the main event, Barack is addressing the workers, who I suspect who are happy to get paid to see a Presidential candidate and not have to place those tiny filaments in tiny light bulbs. This is my second time seeing him in person. The first was Friday night, at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, in Raleigh. He followed Senator Clinton. I noticed she didn't whine about going first that night. Let's face it, who wants to follow one of his speeches, bowling yes, speeches no.
They've started the Q&A, I'm going to move closer to hear and see.
The first question was from a middle aged Black woman who stated, John Edwards proposed Green jobs to replace the jobs that were shipped overseas and that specifically effect Black workers.
Barack didn't get into the Black thing, as usual, he went on to assure the worker he would fight for green jobs. It took him over six minutes to say what I told you in one sentence.
The last question was, "I'm interested in voting for someone who can win, how are you going to win?"
Once again, he took nearly seven minutes to state, "Don't believe the hype about my un-electability. Go with who you believe will enact the most change." Senator Clinton claims she's the most vetted politician but she hasn't gone through half of what I have because she's not the front runner.
This was the second time I've seen Barack in person, and I was not impressed this time. Why, you ask? First, he needs to truncate his long winded and repetitive answers. GET TO THE POINT SOONER! Second, he's very low energy in these small gatherings. Perhaps he's tired, perhaps he's bored, perhaps his heart isn't in it anymore. I don't know what it is, but it pains me to say it, he's missing something. He doesn't seem to have a fighting spirit. He reminds me of that line from the film, "The Way We Were," it was the first line of a story written by Robert Redford's character, "Everything came too easily for him..." He's not use to scrapping and fighting to win or succeed at anything. Alan Keyes was not a formidable opponent, even George Bush called him, "a piece of work."
As I listened to him answer questions, all I could think of was those people who leave long, rambling messages on my voice mail, then forget to leave their name and number. He seems more interested in hearing himself speak than giving a concise and direct answer. People who don't have a lot of time appreciate brevity. I'm not suggesting that he forfeit substance, but frankly he didn't delve into substance, neither does Billary, for that matter. Most politicians don't want to get ham stringed into the pesky weeds of issues, but successful ones find a way to make general points with authority, so that it seems like they know what they're talking about, even when they don't. Barack needs to master this skill. Vite, vite!
Of course, that was my impression which accounts for nothing since I'm not voting tomorrow. The employees seemed pleased that he was there and he may have picked up a few undecided votes. So his visit may have been a success, time will tell.
I was more interested in finding out how this last minute, drive by campaign stop happened. After all the visitors and press emptied out of the room, I sought out someone who would know. Eureka! I found Greg Merritt, VP Marketing & Sales. Greg gave me the low down.
"Chuck, that's our CEO, received a call from Obama's North Carolina campaign, on Saturday night, saying they wanted to hold an economic summit, at our work site. On Sunday afternoon, Chuck, that's Chuck S-w-o-b-o-d-a, converged here with marketing and Obama's advance team to discuss the logistics. His team got the people to bring in the lights, chairs, press stuff... You can get people to do that, even on Sunday."
"The campaign sought us out. I'm not sure but I think someone from his North Carolina Campaign knew of us, or Chuck."
"This morning we sent out emails to everyone and selected a diverse group from the various departments. Most were excited. I mean you have ardent supporters, skeptics and those leaning the other way... but they all wanted to attend, even the skeptics."
"My family is away at a soccer trial, but they thought it was neat."
"I was impressed. He answers the questions really straight forward. I thought it was refreshing because most candidates are trained to say what voters want to hear."
"You should pick the one you agree with, not the one you like."
"I would rather not comment on Senator Clinton. I mean as a representative of CREE...my personal opinion is, Senator Clinton will tell you what you want to hear...yeah, you can say there's a credibility issue."
"The gas tax holiday is a joke. It will have no impact. I don't think they [low income voters] understand how little they will receive. It's a political trick. I agree with Senator Obama on that."
"As far as low income voters, or anyone, if you don't want to know, you don't know. If you do, you will. That's with all things in life."
That should be an Oprah thought of the day. On that note, I'm heading to Charlotte, to see how the voter turn out is in the morning. Barack is already in route to Indiana, then he will return to North Carolina, for a party in Raleigh, on Tuesday night.
The question is, will he get the right or the Wright result. In 24 hours we shall know.
UPDATE: OBAMA PROVED HE HAS THE RIGHT STUFF, AND IS NOW THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE (YES I SAID IT, THERE'S NO WAY CLINTON CAN WIN). AS ONE OF HIS ENTHUSIASTIC SUPPORTERS TOLD ME, AT A VIEWING PARTY IN CHARLOTTE, "MAKE SURE YOU WRITE THE WRIGHT ISSUE IS DEAD. NC PROVED THAT TONIGHT!"