Thursday, January 24, 2008

Columbia, SC Where to begin...

Where to begin oh where to begin. So, we decided to go to a Michelle Obama event in Columbia this afternoon. My idea was to do a story about her as a spouse and what she thinks her role is in the campaign. I figured I would ask for an interview and I honestly thought it would happen because she's not with Barack Obama and I didn't think it would be a huge event.

About 180 showed up to see her on the campus of the University of South Carolina. She spoke for about 35 minutes to an energetic crowd.

After the event I asked her friendly handlers if we could get an interview. After a few minutes, they escorted us to a back hallway where I interviewed Mrs. Obama about her role in the campaign, what she would do as First Lady, her family connections to South Carolina, and what role she thinks race should play in this election. Click on her picture to watch the full interview here.

I thought it was a great interview and we'd have a great story but didn't think much more than that. As we walked back into the main room there were several media members huddled around the door. I noticed them looking at us with a quizzed and slightly frightened face. As we began to pack up our gear an ABC news producer asked if I interviewed Mrs. Obama. She was clearly concerned when I said yes. ABC reporter/Wknd GMA Anchor Kate Snow then approached me and asked if I asked her about Bill Clinton. They were both clearly disappointed when I said no, but they still asked if they could get a dub of our interview.

What a role reversal! Usually local reporters end up humbly walking away with our tails between our legs as national reporters get their up close one on one interviews.

Now, maybe I'm a bad journalist for not asking Mrs. Obama about the Bill Clinton/Barack Obama spat. Here's the deal, I knew it was a big national news story, but I did not know the interview was such an exclusive. Apparently, ABC has been asking for an interview with her for weeks, even months. Anyway, I figured the national crews would get an interview and would focus on her reaction to the Clinton/Obama fighting. Therefore, I was hoping to provide our viewers with a different story instead of doing what everybody else was doing.

I mean, I get it's a huge story, but in the end I think it's more important what Mrs. Obama thinks about race relations in this country and what she would want to advocate as First Lady. Again, I may have been wrong but I just never realized my interview was so rare.

By the way, Ms. Snow and her crew were all very nice and down to earth unlike other crews we have worked with. Granted they wanted our tape but it was clear they are good people.

In the end, you might see our interview on various ABC news programs. Since, we didn't ask about Bill Clinton you may not, but the race issue here in SC is heating up so perhaps that was the better question to ask in the long run.

For now, it has made ABC News' website.

Click here to see it.

Here's the gist of what she said about race in this campaign.

“You know race is still an important issue in this country. You know there are still so many things that are impacted by race -- whether it’s health. We know that there’s still health disparities that exist. There are women that are African American that are dying of higher rates of breast cancer. So the issue is real."

“Our belief is that the decision of who will be the next president will not be based solely on race or gender. You know, my deep hope is that people will base their decision on who they think they can trust. Who’s got a vision for the country? Who’s bringing a different, you know, tone to politics and who’s going to really take this country in a different direction? And quite frankly, I think the only person that comes close to that is Barack. And he happens to be a black man,” she said.

I'll write more about the interview but hopefully you'll see it with your own eyes in the morning. In the meantime, it's nearly 1:00am and we have to be up at 7:00 to hit the road and cover Hillary Clinton..

Until then...

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