Sunday, June 04, 2006

Obama in Ohio

I’m in the hall of the Veteran’s Memorial in Columbus, I forgot my camera and the wifi doesn’t work. But I just spent fifteen minutes sitting next to Barack Obama, so it’s all good.

After that thumbsucker about having accepted the free ticket from Obama, it would really have been a drag if he sucked. I needn’t have worried. Yes, dude is a rock star.

As we peppered him with questions, he answered while signing autographs, smiling for pictures and greeting the cloud of admirers that apparently follows him at events like this. Sitting at the table are Redhorse, Chris Baker, YellowDogSammy, Cindy Zawadski, Eric Vessels, Angela Stuber, Jill Miller Zimon and [eventually] Staff from BSB. I’m not much of a notetaker, but here’s my attempt at the Q&A.

Q (Me) what do you see as the role of blogs in politics going forward generally, and specifically, why did you do this (buy the tickets for the table of bloggers)

A: My background is community organizing. Blogs have a potential of tapping into grassroots energy. In his race he saw the ability of the internet to spread the word on a candidate quickly. It gave people the confidence and reinforced the possibility he could win.

The danger is that we only talk to each other and those who agree with us. We need to think about how to get bloggers with different points of view to l;ink together.

Chris: The Paul Hackett race was the best and the worst of what blogs can do. How do we repair the damage?

A: I’m also a writer. The world is perfectible when you write. There’s a tendency for us to get frustrated if a candidate ore party doesn’t subscribe to the ideas you’ve laid out. Bloggers are useful as the conscience of the party.

At this point much confusion ensues but the gist is “get over it.”
[and as I write this, Hackett just walked by in a seersucker jacket, rep tie, and faded jeans]

Chris: It would be great if someone could get B---n and Hackett to sit down.

B: That would be great. I’ll talk to S-----d.

Jill: How do we as bloggers maintain our individuality and avoid groupthink?

A: I’m concerned that groupthink is more likely to happen if ideas are not tested on the ground. For example, I wrote a long missive of Daily Kos after Russ Feingold voted for Judge Roberts [and got ripped on DKos]

We need to be more flexible when judging candidates. Blogs need an infusion of people who are on the ground in “red” areas.

Angela asks question about net neutrality.

A: “I’m a big net neutrality guy. [will vote against the bill to kill the amendment.]

Staff: How do you feel about Dean’s 50 state strategy?

A: As Woody Allen says, 90% of success is showing up. If we don’t campaign in [red states] we can’t build something better. Rahm Emmanuel’s point isn’t that Dean is wrong, it’s that if we take the House, we are in a better position to do that.

In addition to the Obama sitdown, we took in press conferences with Obama, Joe Biden, Chris Redfern and a bigwig from DNC. I'll right that up, along with the general scene, highlights (and a couple of lowlights) from the speeches and the general scene in seperate posts after something approximating a night's sleep.

UPDATE: For those of you finding this 20 months later by Googling "Obama in Ohio," click the "O Yeah" topic for current updates about the Obama campaign in Ohio.