Early in the campaign, in September of ’07, when Obama was beginning to be a sensation in Iowa, but nobody knew exactly how big a sensation, he was drawing big crowds, and I covered Iowa caucus campaigns for more than 20 years, and you see when somebody has something exceptional going, and I pressed for an interview with the campaign.
Usually early in campaigns, it’s pretty easy to get interviews with these guys before they really take off. And at this – but Obama was becoming kind of a rock star and his campaign said, “No, we don’t have time.” Finally they agreed and said, “Okay, after this event in Storm Lake, we’re going to give you ten minutes. We’re going – he’s going to meet and greet after his speech, they’re going to wind up the motorcade, and you get your ten minutes, and then we go.”
So that happened; I was with a freelance crew. When you work in TV, you hire freelance crews in states you go to, and you’ve never met these people before. And I learned as we were riding over to the event that these two guys were relatively new to videography. They had been in a rock band a few months before. And so at the appointed time, I stand in the right place with some of Obama’s aids and my producer and the crew, Obama comes over, and I commence an interview about income inequality and what are you going to do to narrow the gap between rich and poor, and about 30 seconds into his answer, the videographer says, “Stop, my battery is dead,” at which point the Obama campaign people said, “Okay, we’ve got to go, you had your chance, but we’re going to be late.” And Obama, thank goodness, said, “No, we’ll wait, we’re going to give the guy his interview.”
So the sound man went to go get another battery out of his van, and he goes running away, it’s about five blocks away, it takes him five minutes, he comes back, and I’m not kidding, he says, “Dang, I forgot my keys.”
So he gets his keys, and at that point the people – the campaign said we really have to go now, and Obama said, “No, we’re going to wait.” He went back and he got the keys, and we recorded the interview, he gave me his full ten minutes, it was a great interview, I was so happy, the motorcade goes off, we go back to the satellite truck to screen the tape, and there’s something that you may have seen people on television do at the beginning of interviews, where they hold up a white sheet of paper in front of the camera, it’s called white balancing, so that the camera can kind of get a fix on the colors, and right as we popped the tape in, the guy says, “Dang, I forgot to white balance.” So we watched the tape, and Obama is green as a martian, and we could not use any of it. Nevertheless, that calm, that steadiness, that sense of generosity, he got some benefit out of that over the long run from me.
Monday, December 1, 2008
John Harwood has a "heartwarming" yet mildly amusing anecdote about how he tried to meet with Obama: