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Obama Town Meeting, Westerville, OH March 3, 2008

Posted by makingyourdashcount in Clinton, obama, Ohio Politics, politics, Westerville.
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On the one hand it seemed like an unlikely venue; Westerville, Ohio is a bastion of conservative values and votes. Westerville gave Bush over 60% of it’s votes in the last election. ugh. For those of us who lean toward blue sensibility and not red, it can sometimes be a place where it’s best not to share political opinions or leanings. But something special happened on this cold March Sunday that redefined Westerville. Westerville North High School hosted a standing room only rally for Hillary Clinton, while a mile and a half up the road, Westerville Central High School hosted an overflow crowd for a town hall meeting with Barack Obama.

Today I am PROUD TO BE A WESTERVILLIAN.

Although summing up our personal experience in one word may seem trite, I will do it anyway. In one word, it was amazing. I’ve learned from past rallies that the earlier you get there the better off you are. (Specifically thinking of the Kerry rally in Zanesville) Not only do you get the best spots to see the candidate, you meet great people with whom you have a new common experience. Although the doors were to open at noon, we showed up at 7:30, within the top 8 people in line. The first had arrived at 5 am. We shared food, stories and blankets. We referred to ourselves as the crazies, since people who got to the school hours after we did also got great seats in this intimate crowd of fewer than 1,500 people.

We prized front row seats. Front row. There were no distractions to Obama’s message. We were close enough to see him sweat, if he were to sweat. (He didn’t.) I sat with his biggest fan, my daughter. When he came in the gym, he shook her hand. Usually stoic and unemotional, tears ran down her cheek in what I could best describe as total elation. She fell in love with Obama through his books, shaking his hand was as close to a religious experience that she had ever had. By the time we left the auditorium, Anna had shaken his hand twice. He and I had a four-sentence conversation before he signed his book for her.

I expected his speaking manner to border on political evangelism, but it didn’t. If anything he surprised me with quick thinking reflections on his audience and sincere retort with a West African student. He never bashed his opponent. Although his and Clinton’s policies quite frankly feel six of one half dozen of the other to me, as commercials have taught me, I expected his presentation to be more style than substance. It wasn’t. If anything, he came over as a thoughtful, intelligent candidate. I was pleasantly surprised.

I went into this town meeting undecided and leaning toward Mrs. Clinton. Although I feel as either of them would make a fine president, I have to admit, I liked what I saw today. I have a feeling that Senator Obama will get my vote.

As the crowd dispersed, we spoke with Senator Rockefeller for about 5 minutes. He expressed empathy for Anna when we told him that she would turn 18 the day AFTER the election. I love the picture of Anna and him that I posted on the first page of my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fluffetta

The best part of the day: I spent an entire day with my daughter sharing in her emotional new passion: Barack Obama, all the while only spending $5 on two campaign buttons. A veritable bargain.

Thank you Westerville.

An example of what impressed me including a very quick flash of Anna in a grey sweatshirt and ponytail (behind the woman in sunglasses int he wheelchair and visible right after he makes the FEMA comment.):

 You can see us in this video talking to Senator Obama- well, you can sort of see us.  I am wearing a robin’s egg blue shirt. Anna is to my right.

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