I saw the short blurb in my local paper that General Wesley Clark was making an appearance here in Springfield. Inspired by my meeting with Cam Barrett at BloggerCon in October, I headed down to check out the event.
Like most “made for media” events, this one had all four of the television stations in town, in addition to the only two radio stations that cover news present. Turns out that I knew the reporter from one of the radio stations–I went backstage to the “media Q&A” with her.
The General was running late, so the local Dem party chairperson took the floor and made small talk. Mr. Clark arrived about 1:15PM local time, spoke for 10 or minutes, then spent as much time talking to the crowd of supporters. I'd estimate the crowd at 50-100 people, including one local carrying a pro-Ashcroft sign. Not sure why she made an appearance.
Impressions from the rally speech
- Made a passing jab at George Bush's non-election to office
- Said he'll focus on fixing the “wreck” GW has made “in Iraq and in our economy”
- He's running because of his long history of public service and he thinks GW is “not a leader”.
- Will go after the No Child Left Behind act and “get it fixed”
I wrote two questions down for Mr. Clark during his speech in preparation for the media session at the end. As I walked into a side area that had been curtained off, I was handed a contact sheet by a campaign volunteer. It's two pages, full of information like web addresses, phone numbers for the HQ and contact people, broken down into state and congressional district levels. Nice. By the way, all but 3 of the contacts had a email address listed; only 2 of the 18 had phone numbers. Interesting how times change. No weblog URLs, though.
- Know his message, but sometimes stumbles. Seems like he's got this memorized, but isn't comfortable parroting lines on a script.
- Strong, genuine facial expressions and emotions.
- Emphasized veterans going into “Veterans Week”
- Talking about the helicopter crash (twice, once with press, once with crowd) seemed to make his eyes water and his voice break.
- Local TV: “Is red tape at VA? (ref–healthcare for veterans) Clark: VA has the “least modern system” of any in healthcare. Fix it with “leadership and put the physicians in charge”
- Quote: “I don't think there's a strategy in Iraq.”
- Local Newspaper: Will you take matching funds? Clark: “Still condsidering”, then stumbled into another comment about veterans and was ushered out.
My two questions: what about matching funds? (answered) and what about the weblog and technology in the campaign? (not asked). I didn't hear anything that made me want to vote for him. I did see the honesty and emotion that I don't see in other candidates; that alone makes me see him as more of a real person.
Spoke with Chris Lehane, a person with the Clark campaign (he didn't identify himself by title, only name). I asked him if he knew Cameron and he said with enthusiasm, “yeah, he's the father of the blog, the granddaddy”. Told him that I met Cameron at BloggerCon (thanks, Dave and Cameron) and was impressed with the progress. I asked Chris, “Has the weblog technology made a difference?” He said, “It's made a huge difference” and mentioned something about “e-districts”. I didn't find anything about that on the blog. No search function on the site–yuk. Google can't do everything for us, Cameron.