OAKLAND, CALIF.--Pooler Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times reports on Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) visit Thursday to a cafe in South Bend, Ind. The Hoosier state has a May 6 primary.
To: Jen Psaki
Subject: CORRECTION-POOL REPORT: Obama Visit to Sunrise Cafe (South Bend, Indiana)
*In the pool report below it is noted that Lisa Fletcher’s house was foreclosed on. This is incorrect. This is an error on our end and I apologize for the inconvenience.*
From: Jen Psaki
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 11:16 AM
Subject: POOL REPORT: Obama Visit to Sunrise Cafe (South Bend, Indiana)
EVENT: Obama Visit ton Sunrise Diner in South Bend, Indiana
Pool Report – No. 1
April 10, 2009
South Bend, Ind.
(No news, but see quote at end: “I don’t want you to think I’m getting fresh or anything.”)
On an overcast Thursday morning, Senator Barack Obama walked out of a side door of the Marriott and stepped onto his tour bus, which had been idling for about an hour. It was 9:44 a.m. – breakfast hour was nearly over – as the motorcade made its way to the Sunrise Cafe a few minutes away at the corner of College Street and Lincoln Way.
An arts-and-crafts sign behind the counter of the restaurant set the scene.
“Good Morning,” the sign stated. “Let the Stress Begin.”
At the first stop of the day for Mr. Obama, the message was economic stress.
He made his way around the cozy diner to greet a dozen or so patrons. “Looks like the breakfast here is pretty good,” he said, gazing over an order of another man’s biscuits and gravy. Then, he took his pre-arranged seat in a booth with three people.
Mr. Obama was not given a menu and did not ask for one, so perhaps he didn’t know that the day’s specials included Mexican Mess, $6.50; Huevos Rancheros, $4.95; Chipped Beef on Toast, $3.75; Southern Omelette, $3.95.
“Would you like some coffee?” a waitress asked the senator.
After pausing for several seconds, he ordered orange juice. No breakfast.
For about 20 minutes, Mr. Obama talked with three Hoosiers sitting in the booth: Marvin Kline, 61, of Mishwaka; Lisa Fletcher, 32, of South Bend; Trudy Manderfeld, 60, of Shipshewana. The guests were selected by the campaign.
Mr. Kline said he worked at RMG Foundry in nearby Mishwaka until it closed in 2006. After 38 years at the plant, he said, suddenly he was out of work. This provided the basis for much of the discussion with Mr. Obama. “All it is,” Mr. Kline said, “is corporate greed – to see how much money you can make off of people.”
“Where’s the bottom line? When is this going to stop?” he added a few moments later. “Why are we letting the Japanese and the Chinese buy our debt from us?”
Mr. Obama sat and listened. He nodded in agreement as he leaned in to hear Mr. Kline. They talked about the need to strengthen job retraining efforts in the United States. Mr. Obama criticized the White House for failing to “close the gap between the people who are looking for work and the jobs that exist.”
Then, he heard a similar tale from Ms. Manderfeld, who worked at a Bayer plant. She, too, lost her job, when the company closed its doors. The economic downturn and loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector, she said, has shattered lives and devastated the way of life in many communities.
Again, Mr. Obama listened intently and asked a few questions. He sympathized with their plight, but warned: “The economy is changing. Not all those jobs are going to come back.” He talked, in broad terms, about proposals to retrain workers and create new opportunities in new fields.
“I’m not guaranteeing that we can turn this around overnight,” Mr. Obama said.
“I hope people realize that because of the damage that has been done,” Ms. Manderfeld said, “it’s going to take to more than one term to even start to turn it around.”
“Yeah, exactly,” he said with a smile, “I’m looking for two.”
“Are ya?” she said.
“I’m going to start on that first one,” he replied.
(Later, she told reporters that she intended to vote for Mr. Obama in the Indiana primary on May 6. “I think they’re both capable, but I think he’s maybe more in tuned with real people,” she said.)
As the conversation began to wrap up, Mr. Obama talked briefly with Ms. Fletcher, who is a waitress. She said the economic slowdown has affected her, too. “People don’t have the money to come out do a full dining experience,” she said.
“People can’t go out and get a steak diner,” Mr. Obama said in agreement.
“Absolutely,” she said.
(Jen Psaki, a campaign spokeswoman, later said in a statement that Ms. Fletcher’s house had been foreclosed, but this did not come up in the breakfast session.)
The senator posed for a few photographs with people in the restaurant, including two waitresses and the owner of the Sunrise Cafe. As he leaned in for a picture, touching his leg to one of the older women, Mr. Obama suddenly cracked a smile.
“That’s my phone buzzing there,” he said, gesturing to his right pocket. “I don’t want you to think I’m getting fresh or anything.”
Then, Mr. Obama picked up the check for his breakfast companions. (Your pool was out of position to see the amount of the tab.) He pulled out two separate – but thin – wads of money. He unfolded a few bills from one stack and left it on the counter.
He shook a few hands on the way out, as well as a few dozen people gathered outside the cafe, and boarded his bus for a town meting in Gary. Along the way, a drizzle gave way to a steady rain.
New York Times