Obama at Unity
The build up to this year's Unity Conference was predicated on the arrival of the two presidential contenders, Senators John McCain and Barrack Obama. By the time I arrived in Chicago (7/20/08) only Obama had agreed to appear. His arrival would come on last day of the conference when most journalist are headed home.
Here's a note to the McCain...you could have had the stage to yourself and made news. Journalist who have influence in communities that you have no way of reaching could have given you a unique opportunity. Those communities would have at least acknowledge your presence. Keep dissing these minority groups and you will be irrelevant in years to come.
Make no doubt about it, Obama is the story of this campaign. His upcoming nomination, his nomination speech on the day of the "I have a dream speech"; and the fact it's at Invesco Field in Denver (likely filled to the brim) will have a lasting political effect.
I sat on the front row of the Sunday morning (7/27/08) q-and-a. Note that before the session began the audience was warned to act appropriately. At the last Unity in 2004 there was inappropriate applause/booing. Know at this event there are a number of young journalist who may not know how to react during a press event. Also there were a number of non-journalist and I have also learned there were a number of Obama supporters who came. You will hear clapping which I would have preferred were silent during this session. For the most part those reactions came from non-journalist. I know for a fact seated several seats from me were Singer Patti Austin and former journalist Carol Simpson and her family. I'm glad they came but do not think this was indicative of journalist in the room.
Lastly, the Senator is very nuanced. He has this uncanny ability to flip questions which maybe disastrous to answer and either turn them back on the inquisitor or find the "silver lining in the answer." Watch for yourself.
In the days following this event a new set of challenges cropped up. Including several ads from the McCain camp suggesting Obama is as popular as Brittney Spears or Paris Hilton; and the suggestion his anointing comes as if he were Charleston Heston playing Moses.
The rebuttal has been "is that the best you got." Don't fall into the trap. The Obama Camp took the bait.
This is going to be a rough and tumble week for McCain and Obama.