My friend Kirsten Payne was among the lucky handful of people who witnessed the Nashville Presidential town hall debate in person. She isn’t a member of the media, and despite several intelligent conversations I’ve had with her, she describes herself as strictly “unpolitical.” Her role was of a volunteer media runner for the McCain camp — meaning she was right in the middle of all the action.
Here’s a long excerpt from the e-mail she sent me yesterday:
My biggest problem with politics in general is that I never know what the truth is vs. what they are saying just to get me to vote for them. So I kind of approached this debate like I do people in general. I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words, so while at the debate, I was looking for the “non-verbal” cues to give me inclinations of what the real candidates were like. So here are the things I observed with my own eyes and my interpretations of them.
1) There is a huge difference in the way McCain’s Headquarters were ran vs. Obama’s. I was talking to the RJ Young guy (the person who supplied the copiers, printers, etc) and McCain had eight copiers alone in his headquarters and was using them madly to distribute all those responses to the media…which were very much kindergartner, mud-slinging replies, in my opinion, in which most of the media asked me to keep and were annoyed by. By doing this, they went through God only knows how much paper and they weren’t recycling.
Obama’s side only had one copier and rarely used it. All of their communication is done via e-mail and texting to save paper. They also did not produce any kind of rebuttals like I was handing out, in fact I didn’t see any “runners” of theirs at all. To me it was as if they were deciding to take the higher road rather than making their priority to prove the other person wrong. It also said a lot to me that his campaign was walking the walk as far as being environmentally friendly rather than making the priority name calling.
2) A second observation I made was from talking with a Belmont Student. She said that Secret Service kept a close guard on both candidates, but that a group of students ran into Barrack and as SS was trying to ward the students off, Barrack told Secret Security to back off and allowed the students to ask questions and get things autographed. She said he was incredibly nice and really made them feel good by being willing to talk to them. McCain on the other hand made no attempt to communicate with the students and stayed completely secretive, which she says she regretted, because they really wanted to get a first hand look at both candidates. This says a lot to me too, just as far as what each of their priorities seem to be. If you are campaigning and are at a college campus, isn’t it only polite to allow the students become a part of the history and an active participant of the debate or at least talk to them?
3) The third observation I made was how unorganized the McCain headquarters were. From the second I got on the list of volunteers until the end of the night, things were changing, nothing was clear, nobody seemed to be on the same page. I did not get an inside view of Obama’s, so I have nothing to compare that with. It may be how all campaigns are for all I know. But I think each person’s headquarters are a representation of the candidate. It’s like their business so to speak. Just general business states that if the leader is running in an efficient manner, the company is going to flow smoothly. If it is chaos, it makes me wonder what’s going on with the President.
Check out the full account on Kirsten’s blog.
Great comments! Pretty interesting to see people’s various reactions. Thanks for the insights Kirsten!
It’s so amazing to me how differently people perceive things. My ex-roommate shook Obama’s hand and was an usher as a Belmont student.
He said that after observing the candidates talk in person, he felt Obama looked really nervous and fidgety the whole time while McCain seemed relaxed. My group of friends thought the opposite after viewing from the TV. My friend leans towards McCain, but I feel he was being as objective as he could.
Also, I’m a firm believer that all writing and perception is always political in the broadest sense, and I think we often are terrible at being unbiased. It hard to hit that mark without others offering their experiences as well. It seems like we all have narratives in which we place people like candidates, and different conclusions are reached all the time…
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