Just Passing Through for the Check

Teddy Roosevelt Kickin' It Old StyleI saw Barack Obama this last weekend in Park City. He is the fourth Democratic presidential candidate that I have seen here in Utah. I’ve met Richardson, Dodd, and Edwards before him. For all, it was a repeated stump speech and only Dodd had the temerity to actually open it up to questions. I was disappointed that I baffled him with my question regarding Los Alamos Labs producing fresh weapons-grade plutonium. Aren’t senators supposed to know these things?

Seeing these candidates up close has been like peering behind the wizard’s curtain of our Presidency. Although I think Obama is nearest to the greatness that once was present in the oval office with Kennedy, Eisenhower, or either Roosevelt, I was disappointed with how his first stop in Utah was handled. The roadside rally came about through the request of local Obama campaigners. Originally, his staff had planned him to simply stop at the invite-only $500/head fundraiser and then leave with the check. In spite of being organized overnight, I estimated that nearly 1000 people showed up to see him speak.

Would Obama have raised more money at an event in a park or hall where anyone could come? Yes. Would he have still been able to to do an elite VIP reception for big donors? Yes. Would he have avoided the accusation of cynical conservatives that he’s yet another limousine-liberal cherry picking in Park City? Most definitely.

At the YearlyKos convention, the question was asked of the Democratic candidates if they would visit all 50 states in their campaign. The traditional response to this is that it wastes time and resources of the candidate, yet these two guys showed more resourcefulness than any presidential candidate ever has. I have a hard time imagining Lincoln or FDR thinking more of media buys than actually hitting the road. American’s cynicism for the presidential elections has peaked, and yes Barack, we do want “change”. We also want to “change” how our President is elected, and so far it has been the same old game.

6 thoughts on “Just Passing Through for the Check

  1. Pete, I think you and I may be close to the only ones who feel like this about the Obama “visit”.

    Over all, I think that only Richardson has shown Utah more than passing notice, and that he seems to respect Utah, and Utahns, despite our meager number of electoral votes. He’s been here four times since announcing his intention to run.

    It’s important to note that I’m not on the Richardson bandwagon, either. Up until this last weekend, I was firmly in the Obama camp. Now … I don’t know. I like Biden more and more.

  2. Being one of those campaigners, I am looking at this from a different angle. For one thing – when we started campaigning, we didn’t expect to ever get him here. Then, as time went on, and he actually paid attention to us, we started hearing rumors from higher up in the campaign. I’m thrilled that last weekend happened. I don’t think most of the public has any idea what was involved with setting this up, how many people’s schedules were rearranged.

    For example, some people had to fly in a day or two earlier than originally planned, meaning 2 days of work on other things was left undone. Nikki, the Utah for Obama member that organized this, took most of a day off of work, and spent hours contacting people like the Sheriff, finding out if we needed permits, getting volunteers to help with traffic, etc, etc. Even to us, when this started, it seemed like an easy thing to do. We’d show up, he’d stop. Easy, huh? And then there’s Secret Service.

    My other point was that I guess I shouldn’t be too bothered that people are upset by this. Because, I didn’t see anyone complaining that other candidates stopped by for a fundraiser and high-tailed it out. So, that must mean people have higher expectations of Obama, right? 🙂

    Anyway – I really don’t doubt that Obama will be back, for a more public visit.

    And as far as changing how our president is elected – I completely agree with you. I think the solution is campaign finance reform. Money is far too big of an issue in getting elected. I hope something gets done soon.

  3. Edwards touched on Public Financing last night, and got a standing “O” for it.

    Also, Misty, yes, I do hold Obama to a higher standard, but I’m coming at it from a different angle. When I was with the State Democratic Party I tried, several times, to get Obama’s folks to work with the party to bring him out. Out of the seven times I called, I got laughed at four times.

    Richardson’s people, however, not only said yes, they bent over backwards to help set things up. That’s the comparison I make between the two.

    Clinton’s folk hung up on us. Three times.
    Kusinich can’t afford it, so he gets a pass.
    Dodd gave a great speech in a 109 degree auditorium at the USDC convention ,so, he gets an attaboy (and he has local ties).
    Gravel freaks me out.
    Edwards was another “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am” and I don’t like those.
    Biden’s folks, at the time, said he hadn’t announced yet, but to call back “if” he did (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

    There have probably been far better communication opportunities since I left, but, as a Utah Democrat, I’m already feeling marginalized. I don’t need it from senior campaign staffers and quick cash stops.

    The important thing, that only a few of these candidates have realized, is that the West is in play in 2008. I’m used to the Republicans stopping in to play whore for the check in Utah. Democrats are supposed to be something different. And, as huge as a fan I am of Obama’s, I did want more, but, what he gave, he gave with class. And that’s a hell of a lot more than Clinton’s people gave.

  4. I’d love to get Kucinich here. I know that he’s not one of the top fundraisers, but he’s the best Dem candidate running. Kucinich was here in 2005 for the Veg fest, maybe we could figure out how much it cost the organizers of that event to get him out here.

  5. Couldn’t help but see your comments, as I’m one of the few people who work in Kucinich Headquarters in Cleveland. Speaking of campaigning on the cheap, I was building a wiki and curious to see if any other political candidate had ever attempted it (finding a clear and only example of Pete Ashdown-props!). I can say that Utah is pretty much the last place the campaign would instinctively have in mind, but it sounds quite logical if there’s a sizable crowd (nice or not). Email me if you think you have anything going, as the next time I can confirm Dennis is near Utah is in mid-September…we’d have to require a nice chunk of cash, but nothing like what Obama would be getting :).

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