Monday, April 30, 2007

South Carolina in April

As everybody knows by this point the first Democratic Debate of the 2008 Primary season was last Thursday in Orangeburg, SC. The debate was one of several opportunities the Democratic Candidates had to show their stuff for the early primary state. I had the fantastic opportunity to go to SC and volunteer with the John Edwards campaign Thursday and Friday, so I wanted to share a little of my experience with you guys.

We arrived on Thursday to what can only be described as a carnival-like experience. As we drove in to Orangeburg we immediately spotted the large and unmistakable campaign signs (in my hometown we complain when they go up two months before the election). The wait staff at the local Waffle House seemed unimpressed by the goings on and just hoped to pick up some extra customers. I had suspected that only real political junkies would be excited about the election this far out.

Once we arrived at the SC State campus the carnival atmosphere increased tenfold. Campaigns had tents for volunteer check-in and media vans were everywhere. This scene was nothing compared to what we found in the middle of the campus. There were big satellite trucks, stages for live shows, reporters and anchors everywhere. People all over the campus were wearing the shirts for their favorite “team” and would start calling out to the other side as we walked through the streets. We made our way to the official area for candidate drop-off and visibility. There is no doubt that the Edwards campaign and Obama campaign had worked hard at putting the signs up, but Obama was clearly the sign usage champion. I would hate to know what the Obama campaign spent on those signs that were, in the end, never seen by anyone except those there for visibility.

Next, we went to greet Elizabeth Edwards as she arrived for her Hardball interview. She seemed truly delighted to have a crowd meet her at the door. As always, she was incredibly gracious and fun to see. We followed her over to the stage and managed to get some space to show our JE support. There were a lot of Obama and Hillary supporters at the Hardball interview, but they did not show the enthusiasm for their candidate that the Edwards group showed. Obama’s group was close, but Hillary’s crowd just stayed very quiet for the most part. The most telling part of the interview was when Chris Matthews asked the crowd who planned to vote and everybody screamed, then Elizabeth asked how many were registered and only a small portion responded in the positive.

After the interview we went back to the visibility area to greet Senator Edwards. He was glad to see us and clearly in the “zone” getting ready for the debate. Speaking of the debate, I hardly saw any of it. By the time we got back to our tent and had dinner the debate was beginning. I had a ticket for the simulcast party but it was hot in the building and hard to see the screen. I went back outside and watched on the big screen at the Edwards tent. We were glad to see him be thoughtful in his answers, but the opponents seem to think pausing before an answer to think is a weakness. I guess that is how we got into this war.

Friday, was much more laid back and fun. SC was hosting a Jefferson-Jackson dinner and the Edwards campaign hosted a party across the street beforehand. All of the Edwards supporters were in one location and traveled together to the JJ Dinner. We were led down the street by the Edwards’ then a drum line. We marched as a group into the convention center with a megaphone leading the charge. We definitely picked up crowd and media attention with our efforts.

We made the same entrance into the Clyburn Fish Fry. For those not from SC, Congressman Clyburn has a huge Fish Fry every year. It is the political event in SC. The Edwards folks met early to do visibility on the street (we were very well received). When the candidate arrived we made our drum line-escorted trip into the building. It was like the crowd parted for us just to see what was coming. It was one of the most well planned events of any campaign I have ever been a part of. The Edwards campaign is often overshadowed in the media by the star power of Hillary and the newness of Obama. This was JE’s chance to show everybody he is still a strong player. Congratulations to the campaign advance and volunteer teams for pulling off an amazing event.
Cross posted at BlueNC.

1 comment:

Drama Queen said...

Great job, Thanks micandacam!