Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet: Obama in Pennsylvania tours dairy complex at Penn State. Plays hoops.


WASHINGTON--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) wore new Timberland boots to tour a dairy complex in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Click below for pool reports.


Burnham, PA

Sen. Barack Obama stopped by J.P. Edwards Grill and Bar, a sports bar with more than a half-dozen TV sets. Texas was playing Memphis.

There were only a few patrons in the bar when he first showed up around 4:30 pm.

One of them was Shelly Krohn, 33, of Reedsville and her family. They were actually at the Penn State rally in State College. She held up her 5-month-old daughter, Anna, who was wearing a “Babies for Barack” bib.

“It’s good,” Krohn said of her luck. At the rally, “we didn’t get to him see very well.”

Obama made his way around the bar, shaking hands, posing for photographs and signing autographs.

When he made it to a table of three young girls – all daughters of a man with whom Obama would soon discuss military issues – Obama said: “I’ve got two girls. I’m partial to girls.”

Sen. Bob Casey piped in: “I have four daughters.”

Obama moved onto a table of four men (including the father of the three girls), who were pre-assembled by the campaign. The group included at least two Iraq war veterans.

Obama, Casey and the four men discussed military issues for about 15 minutes. (Most of the conversation was difficult to hear, though audio is available.) There was talk of military readiness, revamping the military and the Iraq war.

Robert Sanders, 65, a retiree from Lewistown, said he was at home preparing dinner for his wife when a campaign staffer called and asked if he wanted to meet Obama. So Sanders rushed over to J.P. Edwards, where he discussed military issues with the Illinois senator.

Sanders said he will vote for Obama in the primary, but would be torn in a general election on whether to support Obama or McCain. He said he does not like Clinton, referencing the Monica Lewinsky scandal as a reason for his dislike.

“He seemed down to earth, really interested in the topic,” Sanders said of Obama. “The fact that he came to Mifflin County – one of the smallest counties – really means a lot to me.”

By the time Obama exited the bar, a crowd had gathered both inside and out.

He shook hands on his way to the bus.

One person asked him to sign a dollar bill. Obama declined saying the Secret Service would arrest him.

“Hillary would have a field day with that,” one man shouted.

“Exactly,” Obama responded, smiling.

“Could you sign my Wal-Mart receipt?” a woman asked.

The crowd groaned.

"It's legal," she responded.

“I’m not sure you should be shopping there,” Obama said before pivoting for the bus -- although he did sign the receipt.

Carrie Budoff Brown

Below are 1. Pool report from Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico and 2. State Pool Report from Brett Lieberman, Harrisburg Patriot News

Carrie Budoff Brown


Setting: The dairy complex and barns, part of the Penn State Agriculture Facilities. On the grounds are a mix of cement brick buildings, barns and five silos. It sits in the shadow of Beaver Stadium, home of the Nittany Lions football team in Happy Valley. (Yes, that is the nickname for College Park and its environs).

The facility is used for research, teaching and commercial production of milk for the college creamery and Land O’ Lakes. According to Travis Edwards, the assistant herdsman, the 220 Holstein cows produce 90 pounds of milk a day – each!

Wardrobe: Barnyard chic. The press pool was lucky enough to wear blue plastic, knee-high booties over their shoes. It was a safety measure required by the facility to prevent us dirty poolers from tracking diseases from our shoes into the barns and harm the cows.

Sen. Barack Obama, however, did not wear the booties.

“Got some new shoes,” Obama told the press pool when asked why he was spared the humiliation.

Indeed, he had a brand new pair of work books supplied by his staff. Sen. Bob Casey, who accompanied Obama on the tour, did the same.

Agricultural is a leading industry in Pennsylvania. (Getting assigned to the Senate agricultural committee in this state is a big coup!)

So Obama went to the dairy complex to get a briefing on all things dairy from the complex staff and the dean of the School of Agricultural Sciences, Bob Steele.

In an dark jacket, open collar shirt and brown pants, Obama strolled first through a barn with stalls of cows, whose heads jutted out from the metal gates. The cows would lap up the feed piled just outside the gates. They would head-butt a reporter or photographer – at least one fell over. Obama smiled broadly and laughed, before turning his attention back to the cows.

“How are you doing buddy?” Obama said as he patted the head of a cow.

As walked further down the line of cows, he remarked to the booty-clad pool: “You guys look really good.”

Asked why he was exempted from wearing the shoes, Obama said: “I bought some new shows, baby.”

He got an education on cow feed. His tour guides set up a table of different components of feed, which were piled into several separate aluminum foil containers.

“I know there have been concerns about hormones in cows and tell me about what we know about that, and where we are at with this, how we are thinking about it,” Obama said.

He got a brief explanation that essentially rebutted the concerns raised about hormones in cows. (Audio is available if you want to hear it).

“So you think the whole scare or fear around growth hormones” is not causing young girls to reach puberty more quickly, Obama asked.

“That is not based on science,” said Terry Etherton, the department head of dairy and animal sciences. “That is a lot of folks sensationalizing a message for a cause.”

Obama walked to a barn with several calves, where he was able to feed one with an oversized baby bottle.

“Am I going to be able to feed?” Obama asked.

“Of course,” said Nadine Houck, the assistant manager of the dairy complex.

Obama walked to the pen and put the bottle to the calf’s mouth.

“Common on, buddy,” he said. (And upon making contact) “Oh there you go, that is what I’m talking about. Is she going to drink this whole thing? … That is a lot of milk.”

“Scout (Polaris photographer Scout Tufankjian), I need a shot of this for my 9 and 6-year-olds. Every day they say ‘what did you do today?’ ‘Well, I gave a speech.’ ‘Boring.’ They are not interested in my work generally. So I can prove to them once in awhile….”

He bantered with his guides about the price of milk -- why it has gone up. The guides said it has mix of factors, from the cost of feed to energy prices.

“Do all students have to learn how to milk a cow as part of 101?” he asked to laughter.

“I learned about three years ago,” said Lori Ann Bardine, a student. “For me it is relaxing. Cows, for the most part, are friendly.”

State pool report from the tour of the dairy complex ands barns, part of the Penn State agricultural facilities.

Earlier this morning, Casey and Obama played basketball at Rec Hall. Don't have details yet on who was playing with them.

The motorcade departed the Penn Stater hotel at 11:12 am and arrived 6 min later at the agriculture buildings, a series of painted white buildings and barns with metal roofs, cinder block walls and concrete floors, and silos that are located across the street from Beaver Stadium. \On football days, about 100,000 tailgaters jam the area and transform State College into Pennsylvania's third largest city. On this crisp morning, a few cows in a pasture watch the caravan arrive and Sens. Obama and Casey are greeted by maybe a dozen people – students, dairy managers and academic leaders.

Before your pool is allowed off the bus, the pool, agents and entourage must have on “designer booties” -- basically blue plastic booties that look like giant, knee-high, foot condoms. Dean Robert Steele of the College of Agricultural Sciences later explained it's for biosecurity to protect the 550 cows -- that produce milk and are used for research and teaching – from non-farm diseases and to keep us from taking diseases off the farm. Casey and Obama, however, wore new Timberland boots purchased by the campaign and not at the college's expense to avoid a John Kerry moment.

“You guys look good,” said Obama to the pool. “I bought some new shoes.”

Several curious Holsteins chowing down on hay craned their neck to check out the commotion being caused by the press herd the presidential candidate's entourage and Secret Service.

Several signs say not to pet the cows, but that wouldn't stop Obama or some poolers from petting some of the Holsteins cows we would see. Nor does that stop the cows from molesting some of your poolers with their tongues. It was pretty good, in case you were wondering.

Milk from 220 of the Holstein cows, which produce 90 pounds of milk a day in two feedings. “That's two-thirds of my body milk,” said fellow national pooler Carrie Budoff Brown. You do the math. The milk, not Carrie, is sold to Land O'Lakes and used at The Creamery, the popular on-campus ice cream store that produces flavors such as “Peachy Paterno.” Ice cream from the creamery will be served in the press file.

Steele said the dairy has been producing milk for ice cream since 1862, if I got that right. “We think we know how to make ice cream,” he told Obama. Ben & Jerry came here to learn how to maker ice cream, he said.

We started of in building “D-5” a “Free Stall Barn” with two rows of stalls. The concrete floor normally covered in dirt, mud and manure had been cleaned. It was either bare concrete or covered in fresh sawdust, thus avoiding any awkward moments. “The walkway usually isn't this nice,” Edwards said.

Travis Edwards, 33, the assistant herdsman, said the farm operates as a commercial dairy and also a research and teaching facilities.

Obama and Casey are joined by three women and two men who lead them on the tour.

“These are cows, am I right?” Obama says as he enters the barn from the far side from where the press entered.

Edwards explained to Obama the regurgitation process, prompting the senator to ask why they do that. Your pooler could not hear much of what was said. Carrie is getting the audio from TV. But Obama asked whether it allows the researchers to analyze which feeds are more efficient...which Edwards said was correct.

With nine lasagna tins on a table before them, Edwards explained different types of feeds given the cows. There's the more traditional – corn, hay, etc as well as unconventional ones like cookie meal solids that are produced from stale cookies left over from restaurants and convenience stores as well as Canola oil. The unconventional feeds help reduce the use of costly corn and soybeans and may be more efficient as well.

Virginia “Ginny” Ishler, the manager of the dairy complex, says they know more about the cows' diets than human diets and try for a balance of carbs and fats.

Obama asked about “concerns about hormones in milk” and whether there was any reason for concern, but Steele called it a made up issue and said there was no proof the Bovine Growth Hormones used to increase milk production causes problems in humans because of human cells don't detect it.

“That's not based on any sciences,” Etherton said.

As Steele was talking, a cow behind Obama relieved itself quite loudly, prompting the senator to actually turn his head for a second.

“I just wanted to check because I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old,” he said of the hormone issue and not the cow taking a loud leak.

They talked about the farm bill a bit and the research element that most people overlook but is important to land grant colleges like Penn State.

Student Lori Ann Bardine didn't grow up on a farm, but has worked on them and plans to go work on one when she graduates. She wants to work on a small farm, preferably in Pennsylvania, she tells them.

“Thanks for staying here,” Casey tells her. “Illinois has a lot of farms, too,” Obama quickly chimes in.

The next stop is the calf barn, where the month-old animals in small pens are initially scared by the commotion.

Obama hand feeds one of them from an oversized milk bottle. “She chowed that sucker down,” he said later when she finished it off.


It's this lack of authenticity, of respect for smart rural people Obama shows in this interview which perhaps summarizes why the guy just gauls me lately.
If the farmer's to be allowed to say how groovy those hormones are, they why not plunk some down in his own children's milk and see how that works. I don't think the kids 'chow down' on hormone-laden milk at the tony U of C day care they spend most of their time at.
Can Obama get the rural vote? No. Not yet.
Grow a spine and take on corporate america like John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich did, and then I'll consider stopping my plea that Obama drop out of the race or fold into Hilary's. Soon.
P.S.--silly choice of 'rural' footwear.

Has Obama ever stepped inside a Walmarts? Obviously, not. Could he sound anymore elitist? And Timberland boots are so yesterday, Mr. Cool's staff.

I can't believe that Obama doesn't know the theory of what is causing early puberty among all girls. African-American girls are reaching puberty even earlier than whites.

The theory, which seems plausible to me, is that is caused by being over-weight...the obesity crises. The body thinks that it is sign of maturity. If you are underweight, you have delayed puberty.

Very interesting:
What Makes Obama Run?

Lawyer, teacher, philanthropist, and author Barack Obama doesn't need another career. But he's entering politics to get back to his true passion--community organization.

By Hank De Zutter
December 8, 1995

Nauseating. Two lightweights in designer gear playing at being farmers and 'men of the people'. Marie Antoinette would have been proud!

WHAT?? Obama told someone he wasn't sure she should be shopping in Walmart??? What's wrong with shopping there?

golden oldie: Walmart is bad because it's a huge multi national corporation that consumes enormous resources of corporate welfare from federal and state governments. It takes advantage of lowly paid workers, transferring their health care, child care and transportation costs onto the government, it burdens local governments with the costs of road, sewer and water improvements to develop it's realestate, and it buys almost all it's hard products from overseas, whereas 20 years ago it was known as sourcing in America.

If your job was ever threatened by overseas outsourcing you'd understand this without having to be told.

Jan--I was extremely underweight and 'began' all that at age 11. And that was at the start of the whole agro chemical farm bit. Now that we're introducing hormones into the cattle DIRECTLY as opposed to just using chemicals around the farm that tinker with the hormones of ALL mammals--it's much worse.
As far as the Walmart comment--I couldn't help but remember that Michelle just DIVESTED herself of Walmart's TreeHouse Foods stock.
When a candidate makes a comment like "you shouldn't be shopping there..." and the media doesn't remind us of that candidate's financial history with that company--it makes you wonder how well we're being served by that media.

People in America need to realize jus what got America in this shape…”cheap” yes so-call cheap items from a foreign land.

quote*Wal-Mart firmly believes in local procurement. We recognize that by purchasing quality products, we can generate more job opportunities, support local manufacturing and boost economic development. Over 95% of the merchandise in our stores in China is sourced locally. We have established partnerships with nearly 20,000 suppliers in China. *end quote!

Now! if there be 182 country’s making items for the world to buy and they have only 5% of the pie in China…duh! This company makes the nice people of China support their currency(yuan) by keeping it in their country working for the people there…. but with the “yuan” going up in value and the US dollar going down…all the foreign items that the American consumer buys thinking it is cheap has went up in price.

People…its all about the currency and to keep a currency strong you got to keep it floating around the country you live in so it can work for you. For the past 12 years all them US dollars are being shipped overseas to a foreign bank and with the American worker not making anything for the foreigner to buy the “we the people” have to turn to the “second” largest employer in America(Uncle Sam) to sell “we the people” debt in order to get all them dollars back!

50 years ago a foreigner would had given their left nut for a US dollar or a Hershey’s chocolate bar and today the same foreigner has got Uncle Sam and the American consumer by both all the while Hershey is moving the chocolate factory to Mexico. Wake up! America and think “MADE IN AMERICA.”

quote*"Considering that there are over 30,000 ships at sea this morning," writes James Carlton, director of the Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program, in an e-mail, "the total number of organisms and species in this global 'bioflow' on the morning your readers read your piece could be staggering - billions of individuals, and thousands of species."

Indeed, scientists have long considered ballast water the primary way invasive aquatic organisms are introduced. From the zebra mussel's arrival in the Great Lakes, to an American jellyfish severely disrupting Black Sea fisheries, the potential costs of accidental introduction of a species to new homes can be tremendous. Aquatic invasives cost the US $9 billion yearly, according to estimates by David Pimentel, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Zebra and quagga mussels (a cousin to the zebra) alone cost the $1 billion annually.*end quote!

tats $9 billion a year in hidden taxes to ALL ain't chic and it cost America jobs.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 30, 2008 5:22 PM.

Sweet: At first-ever game at Washington's new ball park. Nationals vs. Orioles exhibition game was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: Obama picks up superdelegate Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.