Bil Browning

Bilerico visits Obama and Clinton campaign headquarters

Filed By Bil Browning | May 07, 2008 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democrat primaries, election 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton, HRC, Indiana

I'm breaking a Bilerico rule by posting the larger video, but so many of you complained that you couldn't read the type on the smaller video player we normally use. My thoughts on the mini-documentary after the jump.

Marti and I had plans to run around town yesterday shooting video of the Indiana primary. Originally Sara Whitman was going to fly into town to join us, but she wasn't able to make it. Our daughter, Paige, served as a camerawoman.

I set up an interview with Dan Parker, state chair of the Indiana Democratic Party. We were going to call on Dan while he was working a polling place yesterday morning, but we were never able to catch up with him. We agreed to meet him at Indiana Democratic Party Headquarters, but no one was there when we arrived. Do you know how disconcerting it is to stop by the Democratic headquarters on Primary Day and not find a single person there? We tried to get ahold of him, but the interview was not meant to be.

I had called both campaigns on Monday to let them know we'd be stopping by. When we arrived at Obama HQ, the office manager quickly called the press department who authorized our visit. Margaret Rose of Milwaukee quickly agreed to share her passion for Obama and started talking our ear off. I swear, she spoke for six minutes on one breath! Ms. Rose was very sweet and thoroughly enjoyable, however, and I truly enjoyed meeting her. Before we left the office, I'd been given some Obama shwag and almost every person had nodded or said hello.

We walked the five blocks to Clinton headquarters to compare and contrast. After all, who gets to see the inside of a presidential campaign's ground zero on the big day? This would be exciting video!

Marti had her Obamaton uniform on while we were shooting (you know, big t-shirt, about five buttons and ten stickers). As we walked we noticed both Clinton and Obama supporters. The Obamatons smiled and waved; the Clintonistas scowled. I chalked it up to Marti's outfit. Still, I noticed the almost cult-like attitude surrounding the Obama campaign; everyone was happy, everyone was cheerful, and they all loved you. Hugs all around!

Outside of Grand Clinton Station there were a few women holding a huge banner. We filmed them for a second and Marti approached one of the women and made a small joke. The women snapped back immediately, "Thanks for harassing us." Um, oooookay. We recorded her showing support for the Clinton campaign; we made small talk and joked with her. We did not harass her.

As we walked into the building, everyone kept scowling at us. "Marti's t-shirt," I thought. "I wonder what would have happened if I'd worn a Bill Richardson shirt?" After the seventh or eighth time of getting the old stink eye though, it was wearing thin.

We walked into the office and Paige's gay Spanish teacher was working the front desk. Right behind the desk was a sign telling visitors that unless they were credentialed they couldn't go behind the desk. Warm fuzzies abounded right away. Paige started talking to her teacher and quickly slapped on a Hillary sticker. Like father - like daughter, what can I say?

He had to check with the press department to confirm our permission. He ran to the back and came back quickly with "Everyone is on a conference call. You'll have to come back later." Um, no. We'd previously arranged this visit. Eventually someone else popped out and said they would try to find someone else to talk to us.

We'd planned this to the nines. Marti had just enough time to film the segment and then had to run off for work; Jerame was on his way to pick us up in the car. Now we were in a holding pattern. Jerame parked illegally and waited in the car.

Former Evan Bayh staffer and gay man Andrew Cullen walked into the office and gave me a lukewarm greeting. (He's been peeved at Jerame and I since Bayh held a blogger meeting a couple years ago and I asked Bayh whether he'd vote for a state marriage amendment if it went to the ballot. He dodged the question and said his staff would get back to me, but they never did. When I called Bayh out for it on the blog, Andrew put me on his personal "Naughty" list.) I explained what was happening and he went off to help.

A couple of minutes later we could hear Andrew talking to the other woman who was assisting us. "I don't know what they want, but I wouldn't help them," he said. Ouch. Thanks Andrew.

"I'm sorry it didn't work out," said Paige's teacher. We were dismissed.

While the Obama camp gave us a tour of their headquarters and went out of their way to be friendly to the local LGBT blog, the gay Clinton staffers had practically pushed us out the door. Nice. Way to win friends and influence people, guys.

The differences between the two camps were striking. While I'd always assumed you'd be able to see the campaign mentalities at play, I never thought it would be so remarkable. Even Paige and Jerame - Clinton supporters - were peeved when we left.

Today Clinton has canceled all media appearances she had scheduled. Her devastating loss in North Carolina and tiny victory in Indiana has irreparably damaged the campaign.

Maybe it was the stink eye.

Bonus video: Jerame and I go vote. (This time in the larger format so you can read the captions!)

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The response you got wasn't that different than the one you'd get wearing a cheese-hat and a "I love Bret Favre" shirt, and walking into the Chicago Bears locker room to interview the team.

They're bitter rivals. Had Marti not telegraphed her allegiance, I think you might have more meaningful data.

Paige did a great job again with the camera work!

What an interesting commentary on the two campaigns. If marti had walked into the Obama camp wearing a Clinton T-Shirt, I wonder if it would have been the same response. Something tells me no. I think they might have tried to convert her.

Nice choice of "Life Is Like a Boat" in your video! Always happy to find another anime fan.

tobyhannabill | May 8, 2008 11:28 AM

When we were registering voters here in PA we didn't care who you were voting for. We registered everyone regardless of their views. I wish I could say the same for The Hillary Headquarters 1 block away. You practically had to pledge your allegiance to Hillary for them to register you.
This was extremely counter productive to their efforts and probably is the reason that they closed the gap from over 20% to less than 10% here in her own town.