On October 26, I received an invitation to talk to President Obama online with many of his other supporters. At first I thought it was a joke, because my donations to his campaign were small – really small – but when I questioned the email I was told that he wanted to “talk” to his “grassroots” supporters and tell them how happy he is with the work we are doing. So I responded affirmatively to the request.
On October 28, I received the following message: Thanks for signing up for the online call with President Obama. The President is looking forward to speaking with supporters like you — the folks who are building this campaign from the ground up. The conversation will start on Tuesday, October 30th, at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time.
No question in my mind that the email was legitimate.
On October 30, I received another e-mail. It read, Thanks for signing up for the special supporter call with President Obama. Because of Hurricane Sandy and scheduling changes, we’ve moved the call from today to Friday, November 2nd. Exact time to be announced.
We hope you can still make it — President Obama is looking forward to speaking with you.
Yesterday, November 1, I received the following message: Just a reminder that tomorrow morning, President Obama wants to thank some of his most committed supporters — that’s you — and talk about the state of the race a week out from Election Day.
This online call will be happening tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
The excitement started to build. I notified those people that had questions for me to ask that we were on, and checked out my cameras, my Dictaphone, my tape recorder, etc., and knew I was ready for my big shot. After all, I have had my “15 minutes of fame” several times over my lifetime, but have never had anything like speaking on a one on one basis with the President of the United States. (I did come close when I met Robert Kennedy in Chula Vista when he spoke to my sixth grade class.)
At 8:25a.m. (PDT) I was ready to go. I had the website up: recordings were running, and my student Monica, who does not have school on Fridays, was anticipating a lifelong memory; something to tell her children in years to come.
Alas, this memory was not to become a reality.
First of all, the “conference” did not begin at 8:30; rather it began at 8:36am. There was no “picture” from Chicago, where the announcer was, nor was there a picture of the President in Ohio, where he was campaigning.
Those of us that were online – I presume there was more than just me – were thanked profusely by the announcer for all that we had done, and were continuing to do for Obama’s reelection. He admonished us to ignore all the polls at this point; he said, and I concur, that they are skewed for the most part, to indicate how the pollsters want the results to show at this date. (I concur because I received a pollster call yesterday asking if I were going to vote for Filner or DeMaio. I was given many choices of all the wonderful things that DeMaio had done and all the terrible things that Filner had done. When the pollster said . . . “after listening to these attributes of the candidates, who will you vote for?” and I said “Filner” she said, and I believe this is a direct quote: “How can you still vote for Filner when I just told you all of the terrible things he did over the past 20 years?” I said, “Because he is the better candidate!” and hung up.)
Going back to the conference call – at approximately 8:42 a.m. the sound cut out and remained out for over 3 minutes. I checked my connections and realized the outage had to be on the part of the conference call, not because of anything I did. When sound finally came back online, President Obama was talking, and I realized later, he must have been answering a question that had come in during the silence on this end. (I wonder if Nixon’s secretary had anything to do with the gap?)
The President said that the thing he was most proud of was the passage of health care for Americans. “Finally,” he said, “people will not lose their homes because of severe financial debt due to illness.” And then, the audio cut out again. This time for 2 minutes.
When the audio came back, I heard the announcer say to the President, “There are no more questions, Mr. President. Thank you for your time.”
What did he mean there were no more questions? I had six good questions I wanted to ask and have answered. If there were more than just myself online, and I am sure there were, I bet they had many unasked questions also.
In closing, the announcer made several interesting statements: He said that the Super PACs know they will win if fewer people vote. In listening to NPR this morning, I heard that there is a potential Northeaster ready to hit the already devastated areas that Sandy ruined on election day. One of the questions I wanted to ask was what might happen to the election if the voters on the East Coast could not get to their polling places? Has an election ever been postponed due to bad weather? Could the West Coast still vote; hold their votes for a week until the East Coast could vote?
He made contrasts between what we will have if Obama wins reelection or if Romney wins: The Dream Act vs Illegals; Clean energy vs the Canadian Pipeline that could devastate a wide area if a pipe were to break; Value ALL people rather than the top 2%; Education for the public good rather than a “luxury” for some; Bring the Military home by 2014 via leave some troops there; EVERYONE with a future via future only for the wealthy, etc.
All in all, I would have to say that the idea of having a “phone conversation” with the President was a good idea, but the actual conversation never took place. What might have happened if Sandy never happened is conjecture. Maybe we would have actually had the chance to talk to him; to see him; to ask questions. He has a lot of ground to make up for taking the time to visit the badly damaged area – funny that Romney didn’t also visit the areas. Guess it was the 47% that suffered the most damage and they don’t matter anyway.
Over all, I would have liked 30 more minutes of sleep.