Pool Report: Friday morning factory tour
By Shailagh Murray, Washington Post
Sen. Barack Obama and his new best friend, Sen. Bob Casey, visited the Erie
Bolt Co. this morning, and a good time of forging was had by all. But no
news was committed.
The plant has been in business for 95 years, far outliving the rusty,
abandoned factories that were visible across the tree tops -- landmarks of
Erie's long decline. The company makes bolts for commercial and military
applications, according to a fact sheet distributed by the campaign.
Obama toured Erie Bolt for about 15 minutes with Harry Brown, director of
business development; Russ Mollo, operations manager; and Sean Graziano,
unit head for the Steelworkers. The Illinois senator observed the
bolt-making process, sans safety glasses, and posed for photos with
employees, including Joe Criscion, a Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter with
bright blue hair.
"Impressive hair color," Obama told Criscion as he walked by. Criscion's
son is a Clinton volunteer, and he was wearing an "I'm your girl" campaign
button. He reluctantly conceded he would vote for Obama if his "girl"
didn't win the nomination. "I'm a Democrat," Criscion said. "If Hillary
didn't get it, I'd have to."
John Kosiorek, a 20-year veteran bolt maker, propped up an Obama sign as
the candidate approached his work area. "I've been with him ever since the
(2004) Democratic convention," Kosiorek explained. "I just like the way he
talks and presents himself." His wife is an Obama campaign volunteer.
Kim Gardner, the plant's receptionist, met Obama along the route and
presented him with a picture of a running horse that she said had long
inspired her. She inscribed it, "Sen. Obama, run strong," and was still
shaking with nerves after she handed it to him.
Obama and Casey emerged from the factory to find a crowd of about 30 people
had gathered across the street at the Erie Beer Co. Apparently they had
been waiting all morning.
"The steel was interesting, but beer!" regular-guy Obama exclaimed. The
senators crossed the street. "What's selling best right now?" Obama asked
the group. "Bud Light!" most people responded. "We like beer," Obama
declared, gathering everyone around him for a photo with his buddy "Casey,"
who as usual appeared to be having the time of his life.