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...


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!"

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

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Oh the suspense!!!!!