Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ohio for Obama, Rock Star Volunteer, Episode II

Special note: I'm struggling a little bit with getting pics and video up. You will have to use your imagination a little bit. It will probably hurt!...on to the blog...

One of the tasks I quickly dominated was phone banking. Basically, you call people to determine if they are Obama supporters and if they can volunteer. After a few good hours of this, it became like shooting fish in a barrel. I even remarked to handsome Obama staffer, Luke, who I was actually starting to like after our shaky introduction from Episode I, "Putting me on phone banking is a little bit like having Pele play foosball. Of course, he could do it, but what a waste of his talents!"




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Luke seated, Dave at right











http://www.donamaro.nl/weblog/media/1/20031106-Pele.jpg







I should be running the phonebanking operation. Soon, I was, with a little help from volunteer Dave. One of my most important tasks was making sure that Dave knew his place, which was beneath me. For instance, I made nametags for us. Mine said, "Phonebank Captain" and his said "Phonebank Co-Captain" or mine said "Phonebank CEO" and his said "Phonebank Middle Management".











One of my favorite stories was, after a long night of phonebanking, I talked to super dedicated volunteer Diane Durham. I asked her how her night had gone, and she said she had had some really negative calls right in a row at the end of the night. I could tell she was discouraged, so I said, "Maybe we should just quit!" :)








I was looking for more and more leadership roles, and I was promised by my field organizer, Carrianna, that I could run the canvassing (door to door) operation the next day. I could just see myself training people so well that I was essentially cloning myself, so there would be about 50 Fulchers out there dominating the doors, and I could sit inside where it was warm, yuck it up and drink hot chocolate. When I got there, Carrianna sent me to the other office to pick up computers. Since it was assigned to me, I was pretty sure this was the most important task ever and critical to our canvassing operation. I went to the downtown office expecting to be treated like royalty. Instead, I was ignored while all of the important people were on some conference call. They even made me answer phones while I waited. I remember a call from a father from Virginia that said he, his wife and four kids were going to drive to Dayton for a day, just to volunteer and go to church there. He said he never does anything like this, but was just so inspired. I told him not to come and that we'd probably lose by about 10 points no matter what. ;) Many of the calls I got were people looking for information about the Dayton office, which did not have a phone yet; I funneled them all to my friend from Iowa, Girish. Good guy, great mustache.






The stress built as I waited on the computers, and they gave me other tasks to accomplish. I had visions of angry potential canvassers burning the other office down because of our lack of Dells. I ended up waiting for about an hour and returned with no computers. Now, that's the Fulcher efficiency that is known from Iowa to South Carolina!









When I got back from whiffing on the computers, Carrianna told me that I was needed as a canvasser. I went out for about an hour, and one sentence describes my experience: it was a lot like hell only it was cold instead of hot!











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I decided I need a really bad chicken sandwich to brighten my mood, so I stopped off at a dive bar that was openly defying the Ohio smoking ban. The barflies were even trained to hide their cigarettes when anyone walked in. Good thing carbon monoxide is odorless.









I contemplated turning this place in for its civil disobedience, but, once I listened to the regulars, I couldn't help but like them. Two were discussing why Congress was investigating steroids while they should be ending the war in Iraq. Another leaned towards me and said, "how do you spell arbitrarily?" You can't make this kind of stuff up...and, of course, I just had to start smoking to fit in, and I've never really looked back.








My rock star volunteer status really started popping when I appeared in my first video of the campaign season.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcNOOePu5-I

Not my best work, but solid video making by Bexley High School student Jake Beech. Although it could have used more of me and less of everyone else. :)









2-22




I met the person with the best job in the world. Her name is Caitlin Harvey. The first time I met her she was leaving the downtown office to go and see Teddy Kennedy speak in Youngstown. I gave her my card and told her to slip it to Teddy. On 2-22, she shows up to interview me. She conveniently forgot the one task I had trusted her with. I soon forgave her, and the reason I say she has the best job in the world is that she is paid to listen to my stories. She's a blogger for the campaign and knows a rock star volunteer when she sees one. It wasn't long before she was eating out of my hand. A few hours later, my sister called me. She had been browsing http://www.barackobama.com/ and came across my profile. Thanks to Caitlin Harvey, my good looks and enthusiasm, I had made the main page. Woo hoo! Obama himself has been trying to make the main page for over a year. Keep trying, buddy!



Lastly, I weaseled my way in front of yet another camera to talk about canvassing. I hadn't planned on going canvassing that day (that's for people that I boss around). 10TV was doing some lame story about the campaign until I sat down and made the story about ME!!! If you look on Obama's website, it says "This campaign is about YOU!" I take that quite literally.
I know that if you look at the site from your computer it says "This campaign is about FULCH!" :)

As the interviewer guy throws me softballs, I'm knocking them out of the park with lines like "this is the center of the political universe" and "friends don't let friends vote for hillary" (the latter I actually didn't say...it came from my brother...you can tell we are close!) Soon, the interview guy is asking me if I would go canvassing, and he could film me. I just happened to wear my OSU jersey with my name on the back (marketing, baby!).





It was very neat for students to come up to me the next day and say, "I saw you on the news!" My first thought was, "kids watch the news? I hate the news! It's so boring." Of course when I am on it, it is slightly less boring.









Thus ends the tale of Fulcher, the rock star. There's still a lot left to tell, but my 15 minutes of fame was pretty much over. I'm actually pretty famous now, but not rich. So, please send me money, so I can quit my job and be a full time celebrity.


A few questions remain:




Would Carrianna be able to work her way back into my good graces after the canvassing betrayal? Would I be able to make any national news services? Would I be able to encourage any out of state volunteers to join me? What role would DC play in our big win on March 4th?




In case you are wondering about my apparent bombastic claims and attitude, keep in mind I am working through many of these issues with my psychologist, and I didn't even include how I think I can box like Muhammad Ali, dance like Michael Jackson, and sing like...well, if you saw my South Carolina blog, you know I can't really sing...





Until Episode III...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ohio for Obama, The center of the political universe, Episode I

Special note: last blog, I promised a prize for anyone who correctly finished the quiz at the end of the War and Peace version. I had to make a tough decision between giving them all IPhones or a mention on my next blog. Congrats to Keith Gilbertson, Robert Tracy, Mary Jane Fulcher, Meredith Porter, Natalie Silverman, Noel Blaha, and Scott Sanders, your IPhones are on the way. ;)

I started attending grassroots Obama meetings on March 3rd, 2007, but things really didn't start heating up until mid-February 2008. The Obama staff arrived and set up a meeting for all grassroots supporters in Central Ohio. Turns out 720 people showed up. We weren't passing out candy here; these people showed up to find out how they could WORK to help Obama. This was going to be really special! Before the meeting, I met two handsome staffers, Seth London and Luke McGowan. I made my usual good first impression on Luke when I asked him about "his vision" for some canvassing sign up sheets. Mildly annoyed, he gave me an answer. I knew I wasn't going to like this guy...About 30 minutes before the meeting, I went up to Seth and said, "if you need me to say a few words, just let me know..." Wry smile from Seth. "I also do a pretty good 'fired up...ready to go!' chant. Seth said he might be able to use me. Meanwhile, our grassroots Commander General, Valli Frausto, tried to give me a few jobs manning volunteer tables. I quickly delegated these responsibilities, so I could work the room and be in position to get the crowd "fired up". Before the meeting, I went around showing complete strangers the cell phone video I took after the Iowa caucuses. Some people loved it; some people thought I was crazy. This is when I decided I would have made a great professional wrestler.

10 mins before the meeting, Seth says, "Fulcher, we are going to use you. You are going to start the meeting with 'Fired up...ready to go!' and then introduce Ted Celeste", state representative and future Speaker of the Ohio House. "Great," I said. And then I got really nervous. Did I really want this duty? Was I up to the task of almost 1500 eyes staring at me? The next 10 mins seemed like 10 hours with Seth telling me "don't go anywhere, we are going to start soon" about three times. Then, it was show time...

The whole place was chattering with excitement.
Me on stage: Fired up!
A weak: ready to go
Me: Come on, there's only one of me and 500 of you. Fired up!
Better: Ready to Go!
Me: Fired up!
Crowd dominates: READY TO GO!
Me: My favorite Obama line is "one voice can change a room". See how easy that was? (small laugh from crowd) I'd now like to introduce State Representative, Ted Celeste.



Rallying the troops!

Afterwards, I walked as quickly as I could away from the spotlight and out to the periphery of the hall. I learned a valuable lesson...It's hard being the belle of the ball!

As if by a magnet, three people were drawn right to me. One was Katie Kington's cousin, Danny. Another Eric Vessels of the Plunderbund blog, who had recognized me from my blog. The third was Aaron Dagres, who was running for the U.S. House.

The rest of the meeting mostly involved me glad-handing, kissing a few babies and meeting a great guy named Joe Teague...

2-16

The Columbus HQ grand opening. My job was to be the greeter. Unfortunately, I did my job too well as I was told "I talk too much" and "To keep people moving". Next time, I will try to be a little bit less awesome!



Can't remember this lady's name, but the balloon animal is definitely Barack. She gave me an Obama dog leash. Thanks!

Later, I walked into the back room to find two other Rock Star volunteers, Jill Porosky and Gita Punwani. I sat down with them and said, "is this the sourpuss section? Let's see some smiles on those faces." They needed a little help housing volunteers. No problem, I would show them how it's done. After about an hour of calling, I had housed two volunteers. I pretended I wasn't frustrated, and we cracked a few jokes. The best was by a girl named Heather, who was helping us. After hanging up,

Heather: The person I just talked to said she would house someone if he is an African American male, is religious, and likes listening to hip hop. I wanted to say, "This isn't Match.com!"

I thought this was brilliant and told her it was blogworthy.

On the way out, I noticed a homeless woman outside the HQ begging for spare change. I had seen her minutes before inside. I asked her if she had gotten any food. She said, "They kicked me out". I thought to myself, "What would Obama do?" I went back inside and smuggled her out (Han Solo style) about 10 crackers and two gourmet granola bars. Extremely proud of myself, I presented them to her and she said, "I'll take the crackers, but I don't do granola bars. It's got that nutrasweet!" Ouch!

For the record, they don't contain Nutra sweet.



Upon my return, there was a small rally with Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman. During the speech, Coleman told a little story...

Coleman: Does everybody see these signs? (he pointed to some homemade Obama symbols on paper plates). These signs were driven here over night from South Carolina. We did pretty well there, huh?
Guy in crowd: They actually came from Virginia!
Coleman: Well, we did pretty well there too! You, sir, in the back! (Coleman pointed at me) What's your name? (This was actually kind of disappointing; I had told him my name not more than an hour before and he had said "I remember you!" Regardless, I told him my name.) Please put one of these signs on the wall by the door, and everybody should hit it on their way out. (Had Coleman stolen one of my ideas from Iowa? Which of course, I had stolen from Notre Dame. He had heard me speak about two weeks before; Mayor, you owe me! :) I felt my ideas had been validated!



I took a break (unheard of in the political world) and went to our high school's hockey game. We won with 21 seconds left in overtime. On a slapshot from one of my current students deflected off of one of my former students. What a rush! I high fived our principal and ran over to our student section, which consisted of about 10 kids, to celebrate.

Late in the day, one of the students from my school named Hany dropped by the HQ. Hany is a computer genius and probably on his way to Harvard for college.
Our conversation:
Me: Did you find parking okay?
Hany: Yeah, I'm in the back lot.
Me: The one with the numbers?
Hany: Yes.
Me: You know you have to pay to park there, right?
Hany: There wasn't anybody to pay.
Me: (I considered a few strategies as to how to explain the pay slots that you have to jam single dollar bills in. I'm not sure I could get a Dublin kid to understand it. I thought about describing it as looking like a apartment complex mailbox, but I'm not sure that would work...I was struggling) Do you have two single dollar bills?
Hany: I have a credit card!
(This line summed up so much about Dublin and its youth...Bubble indeed!) So, I showed him what my brother would call Bat Cave parking. Secretive, out of the way. I'd actually have the cops called on me in this parking lot a few days later...



Connor's in the middle and Hany's on the right.

After an extremely long but fun day, I had one important task left. I called my nine year old niece, Courtney, to see if she wanted to be a flower girl in our wedding.

Me: Hi Courtney, it's your uncle, Brian, would you like to be a flower girl at our wedding?
Courtney: Well, maybe.
Me: Maybe?
Courtney: Yes!!!
Me: Great. I spent the day campaigning for Barack Obama. Who would you vote for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?
Courtney: Well, I'd have to know more about their gun policy (keep in mind, she's nine!) Also, Obama doesn't have much experience in foreign affairs.
Me: Where are you getting this stuff from? Your daddy?
Courtney: Yes
Me: Well, he's what we call a (whisper) Republican.
Courtney: The Republican party was founded in the 1800's to end slavery.
Me: It was also the party of Abraham Lincoln, right?
Courtney: Yes!
Me: Well, the Republican party took a wrong turn somewhere between Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush. What do you think about George W. Bush?
Courtney: Well, he didn't have much experience in foreign affairs either. He was looking for toxic weapons in Area 51, but he couldn't find them, so he went to Iraq...

This was actually more coherent than any conversations I'd had with her father in the last five years!



My niece, Courtney, she loves to read. I taught her how!

This looks like a good place to end Episode I. Would I meet any interesting people? Why did I have the cops called on me? Would I meet Obama for the third time? By how big of a margin would Obama win our great state? Stay tuned!

Since my previous blogs have raised a total of $0.00 dollars for the Obama campaign, I will try a different tactic. If you were entertained by my blog, please consider donating $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. My students and I are raising money for a two year old named Alex from Byesville, Ohio. He has terminal cancer, and his wish is to go to Disneyworld. To help, e-mail me:

Help Alex



Friday, February 1, 2008

Fulcher goes 2-0, Reader's Digest version

Megan, my fiancĂ©, and I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina for the Democratic primary. There, we stayed with Noel Blaha, a friend from high school, Betsy Neidert, and their two Boston Terriers. Two friends from Chicago, Kylie Gregor Whitmire and Kayleen, both feisty teachers, joined us. We had an okay time… 

The reader’s digest version picks up the action on Friday morning after we’ve arrived. The War and Peace version is here:

The whole enchilada!

1-25
Noel announces at 8:32am that Obama is going to be at a deli 2 miles away for a women’s roundtable at 9:00. Kylie, who claimed the night before that she needs a full hour to get ready, shoots out of bed, wakes up Kayleen, and we’re out the door in less than 15. We arrive on time only to find out that we won’t be allowed inside. Short of dressing in drag, I was pretty sure I couldn’t get in, but it was disappointing that the girls couldn’t get in either. We decided to wait in the cold to see if we could at least catch a glimpse of the next POTUS. Before long, Obama’s bus pulls up. We have to move to even be able to see him. As he exits the bus, I start some loud, “Fired up…ready to go!” chants. As if drawn by a magnet, Obama comes right to us.



I showed him my “We make history” sign, and he shook hands with Kylie and Kayleen. Arguably the highlight of the trip, and we’re only 12 hours in.



We’re so fired up on the ride back to Noel’s that we miss our turn…twice!

We arrive at the North Charleston office. The first duty is hanging the “we make history” sign. Hey, it worked in Iowa!



Kayleen, Kylie, myself and Meg

I worked the office with Meg’s cookies and the charm of Obama himself. After about an hour, it was time for a lunch break. We ate at Panera, and, as I was headed up for a free refill, I noticed the long line and said to the guy in front of me, “gosh, things really are slower down south!” He replied, “If you don’t like it, you can get the HELL out!” I do have a way with people!

This was the general attitude towards us in SC...



After lunch, we went door to door (canvassing) in a trailer park to remind people to get out and vote. It was an interesting neighborhood!



That's a mini-Escalade!

I also enjoyed announcing, “This looks like a Kayleen special!” at the most dilapidated of trailers. I’m surprised this never got annoying!



I was so pumped up after knocking on a particular door, that I tried to jump over a trash can...



I guess it's possible to get too fired up.

Back at Noel's, Meg enjoyed guitar hero.



Next, we played Sing Star, a karaoke video game. See for yourselves how fun/embarrassing this game is:



Don’t tell me we didn’t have a good time, Kayleen! I see you laughing back there!


1-26

I had an interesting way of getting my colleagues fired up and ready to go in the morning…



The morning of the primary highlighted just how different my Iowa trip was from this one. For instance, I was Jack Bauer in Iowa, doing whatever it takes to win (I even had to waterboard two potential Hillary caucus goers to get them to switch their allegiances). In SC, I had to deal with stuff like, “We can’t leave until I find my bobby pin!”

Soon, we found our way to the headquarters. We went out canvassing again; Kayleen found a bullet shell casing on the ground at the apartment complex. We kept working! I went up to a door, and the lady told me she couldn’t vote because she had to call a cab for work and had to leave shortly. I arranged a ride for her to the polls and made it so she could even be dropped off to work afterwards. I thought this was pretty neat.

Another round of canvassing found us in a pretty precarious situation. Remember the multi million dollar homes near the harbor? Well, this neighborhood was the exact opposite of that. We actually were so intimidated that we never even got out of the car. We left after seeing a very intimidating dog, which I think was some sort of pit bull/lion mix, wearing a chain reminiscent of Hercules from the old days of the WWF.



Back at the HQ, I also managed to knock over a mop bucket full of water while taking the trash out (talk about being committed to win). Mopping up the water was easy, but I needed a place to put the excess water. Luckily, the spill was right by the door, but how would I prop it open?



It was this type of do whatever it takes attitude that led to a 28 point win!

They put me on the phones for some last minute persuasion. I made about 70 calls and maybe talked to about 7 people. I swear people were deliberately disconnecting their phones to keep from having to speak to me. I finally got a hold of one voter who wanted to know what religion Obama was. I told him he was a Christian, and the man said that was enough for him, and that he would vote for him.



Another staged phone pic

At 7 o’clock when the polls closed, CNN projected Obama as the winner. I went back into the office to commence celebrations, but was told by to keep it kind of hush hush. I’m still not sure why.

Then, it was off to the victory party. South End Brewery was jam packed with supporters. I led a few “fired up…ready to go!” cheers, and we chanted and cheered as Obama gave his victory speech. I sent out a text that said, “Fulcher goes 2-0”, and my favorite response back was from Samir of the Iowa City office. He wrote, “Fulcher and Hope: 2. Hillary: 0”.

1-27

It was sad to leave behind another historic and great trip. A text from Michelle really brought my focus back, it read, “can you be in 22 states all in one day?”

If you found yourself inspired/entertained by this blog, please consider a $5 donation to the Obama campaign. Click on the link below to go to my personal fundraising page. Thanks for reading.

We can change the world

Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on my trip/blog:

Hope to hear from you!

Why I support Obama!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fulcher goes 2-0, War and Peace version

1-24-08

Megan, my fiancĂ©, and I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina for the Democratic primary. There, we stayed with Noel Blaha, a friend from high school, Betsy Neidert, and their two Boston Terriers. Two friends from Chicago, Kylie Gregor Whitmire and Kayleen Boldrey, both feisty teachers, joined us. We had an okay time…

Meg and I met a nice bunch on the shuttle from the parking lot to the Columbus airport. It was actually two mothers and their two eight year old daughters who were headed down to a gymnastics competition in Orlando. The mother told a pretty funny story. She said the night before her and her other daughter were watching the Travel Channel when Disney World came on the screen. Her five year old said, “That looks like a lot of fun!” Mom replied, “We’re going there tomorrow, and you’re not!” Ouch!

Arrival and check in at the airport went smoothly until, as I breezed through, Meg got stopped by security. I shook my head…Rookies!

One of the more interesting characters I met was a guy playing guitar near our gate. He was from San Luis Obispo, CA and was in Columbus for a fertilizer convention. There’s no joke here, folks; the guy was actually in town for a fertilizer convention!



Next thing we know, our flight has been delayed by a half an hour. We had a connecting flight to catch in Charlotte, would we make it?

I send out a text to a few friends that we’ve been delayed. The best responses I got were from my very Republican brother, “try chanting ‘anyone but Hillary’ for good karma” and my mom: “good lucky”. She is still figuring out how to text. This was actually a huge improvement from her previous message, “have.fnu.in.iwoa”

We had a really funny flight attendant on our way to Charlotte. His pre-flight shtick included, “If you haven’t been in an automobile since 1960, here is how to operate a seatbelt” and “In case of loss of cabin pressure, a mask will drop, please secure it over your face…after you stop screaming”. I gave him the Beckham clap for these gems. In case you don’t know what a Beckham clap is:



We made our flight in Charlotte, and before long found ourselves at Noel and Betsy’s in Charleston, baking cookies, making signs and preparing for the next day.



1-25
Noel announces at 8:32am that Obama is going to be at a deli 2 miles away for a women’s roundtable at 9:00. Kylie, who claimed the night before that she needs a full hour to get ready, shoots out of bed, wakes up Kayleen, and we’re out the door in less than 15. We arrive on time only to find out that we won’t be allowed inside. Short of dressing in drag, I was pretty sure I couldn’t get in, but it was disappointing that the girls couldn’t get in either. We decided to wait in the cold to see if we could at least catch a glimpse of the next POTUS. Before long, Obama’s bus pulls up. We have to move to even be able to see him. As he exits the bus, I start some loud, “Fired up…ready to go!” chants. As if drawn by a magnet, Obama comes right to us.




I showed him my “We make history” sign, and he shook hands with Kylie and Kayleen. Arguably the highlight of the trip, and we’re only 12 hours in.




We’re so fired up on the ride back to Noel’s that we miss our turn…twice!

Then, it’s off to Barnes and Noble for some coffee. I didn’t feel like waiting in line, so I invented visibility laps. These include walking around a store in Obama gear as everyone basically ignores you.

We arrive at the North Charleston office. The first duty is hanging the “we make history” sign. Hey, it worked in Iowa!





Kayleen, Kylie, myself and Meg

I worked the office with Meg’s cookies and the charm of Obama himself. After about half an hour, it was time for a lunch break. We ate at Panera, and, as I was headed up for a free refill, I noticed the long line and said to the guy in front of me, “gosh, things really are slower down south!” He replied, “If you don’t like it, you can get the HELL out!” I do have a way with people!

This was the general attitude towards us in SC...



After lunch, we went door to door (canvassing) in a trailer park to remind people to get out and vote. It was an interesting neighborhood!



That's a mini-Escalade!

I also enjoyed announcing, “This looks like a Kayleen special!” at the most dilapidated of trailers. I’m surprised this never got annoying!



I was so pumped up after knocking on a particular door, that I tried to jump over a trash can...



I guess it's possible to get too fired up!

Later, Noel and Betsy took us on a driving tour of the multi million dollar homes on the Charleston harbor. Then, it was on to dinner at Tommy Condon's where we had a big fight: optimism vs. pessimism. Pessimism landed some good shots early, but optimism came on late to win a split decision.



Betsy and Noel on the left

Then, it was back to Noel and Betsy’s for a game of Whoonu. Betsy was talking some serious smack early, but it was all luck. I even said, “just because you were dealt the ace of spades, it doesn’t mean you’re the best player!” I’d highly recommend this game to anyone who wants to get to know their friends better. For instance, we learned that Betsy likes camping better than French fries; we also learned that Noel is a sore loser. No wonder we’ve been buds since the 1st grade!

Back at Noel's, Meg enjoyed playing Guitar Hero.



Next, we played Sing Star, a karaoke video game. See for yourselves how fun/embarrassing this game is:



Don’t tell me we didn’t have a good time, Kayleen! I see you laughing back there!


1-26

I had an interesting way of getting my colleagues fired up and ready to go in the morning. By standing on their beds and doing this...



The morning of the primary highlighted just how different my Iowa trip was from this one. For instance, I was Jack Bauer in Iowa, doing whatever it takes to win (I even had to waterboard two potential Hillary caucus goers to get them to switch their allegiances). In SC, I had to deal with stuff like, “We can’t leave until I find my bobby pin!”

Soon, we found our way to the headquarters. We went out canvassing again; Kayleen found a bullet shell casing on the ground at the apartment complex. We kept working! I went up to a door, and the lady told me she couldn’t vote because she had to call a cab for work and had to leave shortly. I arranged a ride for her to the polls and made it so she could even be dropped off to work afterwards. I thought this was pretty neat.

Another round of canvassing found us in a pretty precarious situation. Remember the multi million dollar homes near the harbor? Well, this neighborhood was the exact opposite of that. We actually were so intimidated that we never even got out of the car. We left after seeing a very intimidating dog, which I think was some sort of pit bull/lion mix, wearing a chain reminiscent of Hercules from the old days of the WWF.



After a little rest, the girls and Noel went to the market. As they were leaving, I couldn’t help but say, “I guess you guys aren’t committed to doing everything you can to win!” As for me, I headed back to the office for some last minute volunteering. I walked around the office asking people if they were ready for a “sprint to the finish”. One lady remarked, “I’ve been here since 6 am!” I was making friends all over.

I also managed to knock over a mop bucket full of water while taking the trash out. Mopping up the water was easy, but I needed a place to put the excess water. Luckily, the spill was right by the door, but how would I prop it open?



It was this type of do whatever it takes attitude that led to a 28 point win!

They put me on the phones for some last minute persuasion. I made about 70 calls and maybe talked to 7 people. I swear people were deliberately disconnecting their phones to keep from having to speak to me. I finally got a hold of one voter who wanted to know what religion Obama was. I told him he was a Christian, and the man said that was enough for him, and that he would vote for him.



Another staged phone pic

At 7 o’clock when the polls closed, CNN projected Obama as the winner. I went back into the office to commence celebrations, but was told to keep it kind of hush hush. I’m still not sure why.

Then, it was off to the victory party. South End Brewery was jam packed with supporters. I led a few “fired up…ready to go!” cheers, and we chanted and cheered as Obama gave his victory speech. I sent out a text that said, “Fulcher goes 2-0”, and my favorite response back was from Samir of the Iowa City office. He wrote, “Fulcher and Hope: 2. Hillary: 0”.

We got lost for about the tenth time on the way home.

1-27

Sadly, we had to leave on Sunday morning. There was a man in front of us in the line to check in at the airport that was two pounds over the 50 lb limit for his checked baggage. I almost told him about Noel Blaha wearing 7 layers of clothing home from Germany.



I must have fit some sort of profile (IRA member?), because, right before we boarded, I was singled out for an extra pat down.

A layover in Washington, DC involved something I hadn’t had in years…fast food. It was exactly as I remembered it…lukewarm, not much taste, and I couldn’t stop eating it.

It was sad to leave behind another historic and great trip. A text from Michelle really brought my focus back, it read, “can you be in 22 states all in one day?”

If you found yourself inspired/entertained by this blog, please consider a $10 donation to the Obama campaign. Click on the link below to go to my personal fundraising page. Thanks for reading.

We can change the world

Finally, if you made it all the way to the end of this thing, you deserve recognition. Please e-mail me the answers to these three questions to get your "prize":

1. What type of intsrument was the guy at the airport playing?

2. Who won the fight at dinner, optimism or pessimism?

3. What did I eat in DC that I hadn't had in years?

Click on this link to claim your "prize"

Also, why I support Obama!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Making History/Changing the World Condensed

Here is the short version of my journey to Iowa for the Presidential Caucuses. Please scroll down for the full text. Mom, you don't need to read both. Just the long one below. :) This trip was a life changing experience for me. I hope you enjoy it!


Jan. 2nd: I'm all packed up and ready to head out from Columbus, Ohio. Once I cleared the snow off the hope mobile, I was ready to go.



My journey continued, and I grew a little bit tired. It wasn't until I crossed the Mississippi river that I realized just how special this trip was going to be. The river was much wider than I remembered and half frozen. I have to say I was pretty pumped up at this point. It was as if Thomas Jefferson was riding shotgun, saying, "Almost there, Fulch!" Feeling very at one with nature, I stopped at the next rest stop to snap a few pictures of the sunset. Unfortunately, the stupid traffic kept getting in the way.



When I exited route 80, I could see my hotel. I don't know if it was the single digit temperatures or the 8 foot tall piles of plowed snow, but my first reaction to Iowa is "Hell has frozen over!" I arrived at the hotel in Iowa City. I was pretty amped up. I sent Lew a text message that said, "Right now, I feel like I can take on the whole Empire by myself...Empire=Hillary".

On the way to the headquarters, I had some trouble finding parking, and the building the Obama headquarters was in housed a few other recognizable names:



I arrived at the Obama headquarters with a smile on my face. I said, "I'm Brian Fulcher just in from Columbus, Ohio. And I did not come here to lose...plus, I brought cookies!" Suddenly, I was popular; thanks Meg! :)


Samir in gray, Claire seated foreground

I was handed a long, out of state volunteer info packet. The best part of the packet detailed the volunteer tasks. It read:

1. Canvassing: and then it explained what canvassing is.

2. Phone banking: then it explained what phone banking is.

3. Speechwriter/strategist/personal assistant to the candidate: Unfortunately, this position doesn't exist...

I noticed a lot of tired people jammed into a small office. I decided to make it my mission to work hard AND have fun! My first task was data entry. Now, it's not as glamorous as it sounds! I tallied up the phone calls that people made on a sheet of paper. It didn't take me long to figure out the system was flawed, and so I quickly worked to improve it.

Soon, the cookies had been destroyed, and half of the plastic bag had been eaten. Steve, the precinct captain I had met at Subway, came in shortly and said he could indeed use my help. He needed me to put some caucus notices on people's doorknobs in his precinct the next day. I checked with Samir, and he said go for it. I was going canvassing, baby!

Jan 3rd: After a leisurely breakfast, I arrived at the HQ at 9:30. Steve was supposed to meet me at 10. So, after my patented, "Happy caucus day!" I asked, "What can I do in the next 30 minutes to help Obama win?" Claire, the receptionist, said I should go do some visibility. I wanted some company, so I asked another volunteer if he wanted to go with me. Charles, an Iowa cheerleader, was interested, but he had no coat. Samir said, "He can't go out! He's got to be alive to caucus tonight!" Then, my man, Girish from Dayton who I had met the day before, stepped up with a coat, gloves, and a hat for Charles. I said, "We're off to make history. Be back in half an hour!"


Charles

Girish

We survived temperatures hovering near 0, and, after a few minutes to thaw, Girish and I followed Steve to the canvassing site. We split up the work and had it finished in 15 minutes. Next, we braved a maze of a trailer park, in which the lots seemed to be numbered in random order. I was driving so slow that I felt the need to tell Girish that "the only thing that isn't conservative about me is my politics." Check out this front yard:



It was lunch time, and I bought four pizzas for the office. I heard other people making plans to order Thai food, so I thought maybe I had bought too much. As you would expect, the pizza was a huge hit. People I'd never seen before started coming out of the woodwork; I even had a slice snatched out of my hand. :) The only thing that was missing from the perfect meal was plates. There were no plates to be found anywhere. It caused me to quip, "I bet the Hillary headquarters has plates..."

Then, a guy showed up at the office that looked familiar to me. I couldn't place him, but, after hearing that I'd missed Scarlet Johansson the day before by just a few hours, I asked around and found out it was Kal Penn. You may remember him from such films as Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and Van Wilder. He's also been on a bunch of tv shows including 24. He probably would have liked my previous Jack Bauer reference.


Kal Penn

We got back to the office, and the morale level was not where I wanted it to be. I talked to Samir about giving a "win one for the gipper" speech, but that never materialized. Instead, I made a sign that says, "We make history tonight!" and put it by the door. I wanted every person that walked out to hit the sign, Notre Dame style. I was busy getting people hyped up, and, apparently, we were a bit too loud, because Samir yelled at us. He had an office to run!






I did a little bit of flyering in the pedestrian mall, and then decided I needed to be at the HQ. It was about 4:30. The caucus started at 6:30. Samir had told me I would be giving rides to the polls, but that never happened. Claire, the receptionist, was running out the door, but gave me quick instructions on how to fill in for her. I was to answer phones. Sounds easy.... As I sat down, two new volunteers came out of nowhere. One said, "I'm from Washingon, what can I do to help?" They put her immediately on phone banking. I was a little salty and said, "but she didn't have to read the packet?!?" The other volunteer was sitting around with nothing to do, so I said, "Hey new girl, you're not doing anything, right? Well, I've been here since yesterday, so I can order you around. Take a picture of me pretending to talk on the phone!" And she did:



Then, all of a sudden, everyone was gone, and it was me, John, a volunteer from New York, and Amy and Alicia, two really nice, really hard working 15 year old girls. John was the dispatcher, solely focused on coordinating rides to the caucus. You could make an argument that I was running the Iowa City Headquarters during the Iowa Caucuses. Pretty insane. I'd only been there 24 hours.

Most of the next few hours is a blur of computer screens, running up and downstairs and anxiously awaiting results. I was answering phones, finding people's caucus locations online, mapquesting addresses and directions. I got one phone call from a father with a problem. He wanted to caucus for Obama, but he had to pick up his son at 7:30. This is right in the middle of the caucuses, and leaving was not an option. So, I asked John, if one of our drivers could go get his son. John contacted Girish to pick up this man's son (code word: pineapple) and take him to the caucus site. Talk about finding a way to win!


John, the dispatcher

Everybody HAD to be at the caucus at 7:00 pm, or they'd likely be shut out. Samir called me panicked at 6:50. He needed directions to an address, then a caucus location for that address, and then directions between the two. I obliged although I was obviously as stressed about the time as Samir was. Then, we got cut off. I heard nothing for a few minutes. Then, Angela, one of the 15 year olds, said, "Brian, someone on the phone in the other room is demanding you come and speak to them." It had to be Samir. I left my computer with the directions on it and bounded up the stairs to get the phone. It was him. Time was running out; what were those directions again? I tried to remember them as best as I could...so, I grabbed an older fellow who had just showed up, wrote down what I thought were the directions and told him to give them to Samir, and I would check for sure. After a quick check of the directions, I realized I had the final address wrong, but it didn't matter anyways. It was too late. This man didn't get to caucus for Obama, but 10s of thousands of other Iowans did...

As we were waiting and waiting to hear the results, I had the distinct feeling that it was going to be good news. I also couldn't get this Apollo 13 quote out of my head, so I shirked my duties for a few minutes to print it out and tape it to my shirt. The quote was, "I believe this is going to be our finest hour!"

We kept hearing anecdotal good news. Reports from various caucus around Iowa City, some by text some by phone. Things were looking really good! Then, NBC called the race for Obama. Does that mean it's a done deal, the girls asked me. "I think so!" I shouted. Amy said, "I'm going to throw up!" I told her, "yeah, that's what I do when I'm happy too. Someone says, 'Happy Birthday', and I vomit all over them!" Eventually, all of the news outlets were saying we won. It was over! We got to celebrate over and over as staffers and volunteers returned from around the city. I had Alicia make a sign that said, "Welcome to Victory Headquarters!" The staffers were the happiest; they had likely saved their jobs. Our county went 52% for Obama, impressive in an 8 candidate field. As I watched the celebrations, I couldn't shake the feeling that we'd made history and changed the world. It was better than going to the final Four and watching the Buckeyes win the National Championship in 2002.



The victory party was at a small establishment absolutely packed with supporters. We watched Hillary's speech on tv, where she and Bill looked morose while Madeline Albright looked dead. Obama's speech brought the house down, with chanting and cheering like we were there with him in Des Moines. Samir gave a short speech. There were lots of hugs, pictures and toasts. I kept asking everyone, "How does it feel to change the world?"


The scene


OK and Girish soaking it up at David's

I want to downplay my role in the victory now. I realize I was basically the 12th man on an amazing basketball team. Guys like us come in late in games after the outcome has already been decided, but we do contribute. We can make history!

On the ride home, I saw two Hillary supporters absolutely zoom by me. I guess they saw my Obama bumper stickers but didn't feel like offering a congratulatory thumbs up. I also heard the song, Man in the Mirror. If you have never heard it or it's been a while, check it out below:



What a message! Thanks for reading about my most excellent adventure. If you were inspired/entertained by it, please consider donating $5 to the Barack Obama campaign OR a charity of your choice. I'll be sending you a follow up e-mail that details how. Thanks again.
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