(an abbreviated report today because Obama just had a press conference)
INDEPENDENCE, IA.—The march to the bus over the crunchy snow started a little after 8 a.m. on Saturday, when Falcon Bulldog, (not his real name) the Secret Service representative minding the press on the Barack Obama bus said it was time to load up.
Last night, the Obama traveling press stayed at a Country Inn & Suites, very decent no-frills place with added plus of being a no-smoking facility and having Pantene shampoo and cream rinse.
Friday stretched more than 12 hours. Food-wise, filling but weighty. A pasta and chicken parmesan buffet for lunch during a stop. Sandwiches and chicken soup from the Clayton Ridge Farm Meat Market & Gift Shop in Guttenberg, Ia. for dinner.
Guttenberg sits on the banks of the Mississippi River, across from Wisconsin.
Obama’s event was in a neat place called the Lakeside Ballroom. It was built in 1927 and I was told it was in use during Prohibition. The architecture recalls a bygone era when community life revolved around local ballrooms. A group of local preservationists bought it in 2006 to restore it and keep it viable, Jeff Friedlein, an owner told me.
Each event is organized the same way. A banner that says “CHANGE We Can Believe In” is on a wall. Citizen supporters—about 20—sit in seats in front of the banner and Obama is positioned in front of him.
The risers with cameras are directly across so the shot takes in Obama, his backers and banner with his message.
Obama then introduces his country organizer and notes their youth and low pay, but gives them some appreciation. He asks people to raise their hands if they are undecided and then says he hopes he will be persuasive enough that people will sign supporter cards so he does not look bad to his organizer.
When the bus arrived at the Inn last night, most people went to their rooms.
Obama stayed to himself, at one end of the place.
I went do the breakfast room to transfer some photos and took two sips of Fat Tire Amber Ale, just to try it because I liked the name.
I realized I brought with me the wrong USB cord to transfer still pix to my laptop.
Fox’s Bonney Kapp loaned me a gadget I highly recommend for people who travel with a lot of things that need to be plugged into computers: A Sima Product plug set that melds five sizes connecters and two sizes of inputs in one palm-size device.
I took the elevator to my room sharing the space with a member of Clinton's advance team coming to town to set up an upcoming event for her.
This morning reminded me how Iowans and people in other early presidential voting states see a different race on television than people who don’t live here. Joe Biden is running an ad that confronts the experience and change arguments frontrunners Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are making. It struck me as effective and if it builds support for Biden, could have a bit of an impact when it comes to the showdown second round caucus voting when supporters of non-viable candidates have to regroup.
Biden’s ad says, “Being president is not the same thing as running for president. When this campaign is over, political slogans like experience and change will mean absolutely nothing. The next president has to act. The Biden plan to end the war in Iraq has already won bipartisan support. When Pakistan erupted in crisis, I spoke to Musharraf before Bush did. You don’t have to guess what I’ll do as president. Just look at what I’ve done.”