Day 2: Reality Check

Dateline: Tue 26 Feb 2008

CINCINNATI, Monday's rally was the high: "Barack Star: Obama Thrills Crowd" trumpeted this morning's Cincinnati Enquirer on page 1.

The paper also ran a big photo of Obama speaking to 13,000 at the University of Cincinnati, plus a story about the fallout: 200 more registered to vote following the rally.

Tuesday, it's back to work. If a political campaign is a Thanksgiving feast, the rallies are the desert.

But before you get there, you've got days in the kitchen, planning a menu, prepping, cooking up a storm. And then there's the clean up.

That's today.

Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. I picked up the first message on the Obama headquarters' phone. It was left at 3:42 p.m. Monday. "I'm a Barack volunteer. I canvassed on Saturday and I was at the rally today. But when I came out, my car was towed from the University of Cincinnati, along with 40 other people. Now I have a $110 bill. Who's gonna pay that? Talk about losing hope."

I told the two young field organizers at headquarters. They must have been a little slap- happy.

"Yeah, I can see him," said one guy. He went into Obama voice. "When I am president, you will never have your car towed again. If you run a red light, I will help you."

Reality test #1.

#2 was getting coffee at Wendy's. The young woman at the drive through saw my big Obama pin. "I really like Mr. Obama," she volunteered.

"But my girlfriend told me he's in the Black Panthers. Is that true?"

I wanted to say, he's not old enough, he's only 46. But instead I was politely reassuring. "Not true," I told her.

"But isn't he a Muslim?" He's a Christian, I explained.

Maybe the confusion is understandable in a Republican dominated Cincinnati. That same morning, Sen. John McCain appeared at a rally at Over The Rhine. Speaking on his behalf was a local radio personality who referred to Obama as Barack Hussein Obama and said that Obama was a Chicago Daly style hack politician.

No wonder people get mixed up. That was reality test #3 in a long hard fought battle for Ohio.

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