the inaugural express

Debbie, Arielle and I worked on the Obama campaign, both for the primary and the final GOTV effort. Debbie and Arielle in particular—Debbie ran the local phone bank, and Arielle did a lot of phone banking. I did door-to-door canvassing, and helped around the campaign office, but Debbie especially did a masterful amount of volunteer work for the campaign, putting in 14+-hour days towards the end.

Perhaps by random, since we really don’t know what process was used, she was invited with a guest to attend the start of Obama’s inaugural train ride to DC this morning. Only 250 volunteers were to be part of this, so she really lucked out. Fortunately, Debbie chose to bring me over our daughter, so I got to go to see Obama and Arielle got to…well, she got to be really pissed off at me. Life’s like that—glad she’s learning this important lesson early.

Anyway, we got there about 20 minutes before the doors opened. There were a lot of police and federal officers present, including bomb-sniffing dogs. While there were 250 of us, there was also a large number of VIPs, including politicians like Michael Nutter, Bob Casey, Arlen Specter, Harris Wofford, Josh Shapiro, Alyson Schwartz and Bob Casey. And many others, including those who were invited to travel on Obama’s train (now that would have been really cool), and even the CEO of US Airways, who I somehow recognized a few rows ahead of us (guess I read too many inflight US Airways magazines, since I fly them every other week or so). I avoided the temptation to complain about the crappy service on his airline this past summer, and instead was polite and told him that the pilot of that downed airplane that landed in the Hudson did a great job. It would have been nice, as a high roller with their airline, to have snared some sort of bonus, like an automatic first-class upgrade for my next trip to California, but that didn’t seem to happen. Sigh…

After intros by local and statewide politicians, Obama, Michelle, Sasha and Malia came out and the crowd went wild. It was very hard to see, but we did manage to grab some halfway-decent photos. I was twittering the entire time, which also gets posted to my Facebook page, so I probably did more twittering today than anytime in the past. I really wish the iPhone had a zoom lens, though, since those were the shots getting posted to Twitter.

While the crowd was a lot bigger than we thought, so it wasn’t a smallish gathering where everyone could shake hands with Obama, Deb did manage to shake Obama’s hand, give a Secret Service agent some homemade Obama earrings for Sasha and Malia, and procure autographs for our copies of Obama’s two books. Debbie also managed to get interviewed twice, one for, and again for our local NBC station. The video of the NBC10 interview is below. Deb’s interview starts at 0:54—she did a great job on camera!

Note the Obama earrings…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So I don’t know how Debbie and I became one of 250 local volunteers to see Obama relatively close up at his 30th Street Station event that started his inaugural train ride to Washington, DC, but we’re really amazingly happy we got to attend. It was also wonderful to see several others we came to know through volunteering at the local Baderwood Obama campaign headquarters. When a true grassroots effort like this one actually succeeds, it’s very gratifying. I hope Obama continues to fulfill his promise, and his promises. I also hope that people get beyond partisanship. And race/religion/sexual orientation, etc. Maybe then, we can start to put the horrible events of the past eight years behind us.