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Monday, June 23, 2008

Blogwitness News: Flying Star Obama Meets with Albuquerque Working Women

Obama enters the Flying Star Commissary

See the rest of the photos from Obama's event at Flickr and my later post with video clips.
Also go read NM FBIHOP's excellent (as usual)
on this, as well as Udall blogger Bryan Barash's coverage.

Living in New Mexico during the 2008 election cycle can be a rather surreal experience at times. Like earlier today when Mary Ellen and I found ourselves joining the print and TV media and other local bloggers at Barack Obama's small and intimate meeting with working women at the Flying Star Commissary in Albuquerque.

Obama at the podium

Michael Isikoff of Newsweek, Kate Nash of the Santa Fe New Mexican, Stuart Dyson of KOB-4 News, Doug Fernandez of KOAT-7 News and, well, us -- part of the local unpaid blog and photo brigade. Many members of the paid media looked very bored, by the way. Years of doing these kinds of events evidently take their toll. But we were psyched with our press credentials safety-pinned to our shirts, and operatives and Secret Service all around.


The Commissary is where they roast all those coffee beans and bake all those desserts for the however many Flying Stars that are now open in the metro area. We hung out first in an area to the side of the main room where big wooden pallets piled high with sacks of coffee beans from around the world were interspersed with tables of lesser media lights, busy with their cell phones and laptops.

Speaking to working women

Eventually, Mary Ellen and Matt from New Mexico FBIHOP made it all the way to the center of the press camera riser that looked right down at Obama standing at a podium. When he finally arrived, Obama was tightly ringed by a few rows of seats where ordinary women, who work in various lower income jobs at Flying Star, listened to his speech and got to ask him questions. I thought he came across as grounded, open, laid-back, down to earth, yet charismatic.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and NM First Lady Barbara Richardson greet crowd

Obama was introduced by Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, one of Hillary Clinton's most loyal backers. Our Governor's wife, Barbara Richardson, was also in attendence. We know her husband endorsed Obama but no word on who her favorite was during the primary season.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish introduces Obama, next prez of the U.S.

The event was informal, serious and low key. No chants of "Yes We Can" or O-BA-MA. Barack gave a short and pointed speech (text and video), briefly tracing his younger days and discussing how the current troubled economy is particularly cruel on working women -- we're generally way behind the curve economically even in good times. He pledged to change this situation with initiatives ranging from strengthening the Small Business Association to lowering taxes, greatly expanding the Medical and Family Leave Act, indexing the minimum wage to the cost of living, offering more grants for college tuition and more.

Answering questions from the group

Then Obama took what he said were unscreened questions from the small group of women, abandoning the podium for a hand mic and moving among the participants.

Charms from his pocket

I thought the most interesting question asked why we should trust that Obama will stay true to himself if he wins the presidency. Barack explained we should first look at his life, and the constancy of his dedication to working to address the concerns of ordinary people. We should also consider the sacrifice he's making to be away from his family so much while running for office, and ask if it would be worth it to him if he didn't believe he could help bring real change.


Finally, Obama discussed how moving it is to realize how much people are investing their hopes in him. He reached into a pocket and dug out a big handful of good luck charms people have given him as he's traveled America -- tangible reminders of people's hopes for his campaign, for his leadership and for the chances we have for a positive future.


I'll be writing more about our experiences today, and hope to post some decent video clips later. In the meantime, check out this Flickr album to see more photos from today's event.

On the Scene: Udall peeps and Matt of NM FBIHOP (he's smiling!)

Matt Reichbach has more coverage at the NM Independent.

(Tip o' the hat to Steve Olson at the Udall campaign for the heads up on today's Obamarama.)

Click on photos for larger versions. All photos by M.E. Broderick.

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June 23, 2008 at 05:27 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Economy, Populism, Labor, Women's Issues | Permalink


You lucky dogs!! I mean that in a nice way... :-) I am so jealous... But nice reporting and great photos from what sounds like a great event. I saw a bit of this also on the Channel 7 evening news, and the interviews with the women there were very complimentary to Obama. He obviously made quite an impression. BTW I got here from a link off of a REC'ed diary from Kos. So you are getting recognition.
Keep up the good work!

Posted by: | Jun 23, 2008 7:45:29 PM

I have to admit, I did draw the ire of some of the traditional media folks. But I got some good photos, and that's all that matters. Who watches any of the stuff on cable news anyway?

Posted by: | Jun 23, 2008 11:19:16 PM

Tom, we WERE lucky dogs, although I think the bloggers there have earned the right after the months and years we've worked because we believe in the cause. It's certainly not just a job to us! Great that Obama's campaign included us.

Matt, sometimes you have to draw a little ire to get the job done, and you did. I did watch the local news and cable tonight just to see how they covered it, and it was minimal at best. Of course the local TV reporters asked the usual question they already know the answer for: "Will you pick Bill Richardson for VP?" What did they think he was gonna say?

I should have cropped many of my photos but I just didn't have it in me. Yawn.

Posted by: barb | Jun 23, 2008 11:30:01 PM

You guys are SO lucky! Getting to go to Flying Star, home of the excellent Buddha Bowl and Tempeh Burger! Oh, yeah, and you also got to hang out with Barack Obama. Double-rainbow cool!

Posted by: itle="http://whatdoiknow.typepad.com" href="http://whatdoiknow.typepad.com">KathyF | Jun 24, 2008 1:46:10 AM

O is the stealth candidate--a pal of mine in Vermont emailed to ask if I was going to see the O yesterday. Huh? Where? In NM?
Yes, Kathy F--love that Buddha Bowl!

Posted by: | Jun 24, 2008 8:55:58 AM

Hey foodies great to hear you. Yes the O visit was very stealth. Me and Barb hemmed and hawed if we should go. Maybe we should not participate because obama should be back doing his work on the senate floor...against the nightmare of FISA or the 165 Billion war funding.
But the opportunity to be able to attend this unusual event won out. Kind of a once in a life time. We tried to get to ask him questions like the mainsteam media....we did not get that .... yet!
What I come away with from this quaint session with Barack Obama is that I could trust him...which may be the most important factor....who the hell knows what will be discovered about what the current theives did to our country in the whitehouse.

Posted by: mary ellen | Jun 24, 2008 10:05:01 AM

I love who he picked to meet with - not pundits or poobahs or even Hillary donors. Meeting with many who are definitely not big time donors is part of the essence of his campaign. Glad to see it (do you think any attendees were text messaging about the visit?)

Posted by: | Jun 24, 2008 10:38:50 AM

The little Double Rainbow has exploded as Flying Star. Besides the Commissary they have eight locations here, plus their Satellite Coffee spots:

I remember sitting out front of the original Rainbow on Central at one of the two tiny tables they had on the sidewalk. Of course I also remember the Hippo ice cream shop on Harvard, so I go back a ways.

We thought of packing folded up signs we could unfurl at the Obama event saying "No Telecom Immunity" or "Filibuster FISA" but we chickened out. With our press credentials, we didn't think it was proper, but we may have been wrong.

Kathy: Great that -- even way across the Atlantic, you got to hear Howard Dean do another of his famous on-fire speeches. The Deaniacs of yore still get around! Sorry about your purse getting stolen though - a high price to pay.

Posted by: barb | Jun 24, 2008 11:26:15 AM

As long as we're reminiscing about Flying Star/Double Rainbow--I remember sitting at one of those tables on Central with a friend, who's since departed this earth, and as we sat talking, a double rainbow appeared in the sky. Beautiful moment.

Posted by: itle="http://whatdoiknow.typepad.com" href="http://whatdoiknow.typepad.com">KathyF | Jun 24, 2008 4:20:40 PM

Thanks for the coverage, good luck on your blogging. Arrive here via commenters on DailyKos. Live part of the time in Santa Fe, rest outside Austin and on the road.

Posted by: divineorder | Jun 25, 2008 7:20:10 AM

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