The Paulunteer on NBC TonightSubmitted by Brian Bailey on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 01:19
Ok, so it was just the St. Louis NBC affiliate. And it wasn't The Paulunteer but just boring old Brian Bailey. And they only showed me making some hand gestures.
No, seriously, I didn't see it myself but Liz said the segment looked pretty good.
What in the world am I talking about, you ask?
Well, tonight at the Southwestern Illinois Field Office in Edwardsville we had a "Freedom Forum" designed to allow undecided voters ask questions and learn about Ron Paul. About two hours before the laid back Freedom Forum was to commence John Hoover, our local MeetUp organizer, learned from Lisa Wogans, the state communications director, that the NBC affiliate was sending a reporter and a camera to the event.
Can you say "panic mode?"
I staff the office every day from 10-3 and I came home today to relax before heading back up for the forum at 7:00. Well, that lasted about 45 minutes before hearing the news from John.
I rushed over to my mom's house to pick up four extra folding chairs (this turned out to be a good move) and then dashed back up to Edwardsville. John and I along with fellow MeetUp member Reed proceeded to plaster the inside and outside of the office with Ron Paul signs. We figured this would give a better overall impression and no matter where the cameraman pointed his camera, we would have Ron Paul's name in the background.
After a while people started showing up. A lot of people.
By 7:10 we probably had 40 people crammed into the campaign office and it was standing-room only. Unfortunately (or depending on how you look at it, fortunately) every single person there was a Ron Paul supporter!
Our "undecided voters forum" went right out the window. But not to worry, all was not lost! One of our supporters, Kurt Prenzler, (who recently ran for office in this heavily Democratic county and came pretty close to pulling off a coup) basically got nominated by John and I to represent the group on camera for an interview. Kurt is a nice and humble guy (this guy ran for county government and has not only finished his precinct as a Precinct Leader but has started on a second one) and he did a great job. It was almost surreal to watch as a room full of Ron Paul supporters sat in complete silence listening to Kurt answer questions from the reporter, camera and bright lights stuck in his face.
After that Neal Winkler, a local Ron Paul state delegate, gave a nice concise statement explaining his support for Dr. Paul. (He had a whole speech prepared but when no undecided voters showed up he didn't want to waste anyone's time by preaching to the choir.) After that we had a little question and answer session with our fellow supporters and then John and I talked about the importance of Precinct Leaders. This is apparently where they got the footage of me addressing the room.
Overall it was a fairly exhausting experience but it was well worth it.
I do have some words of advice for anyone else put in this position, such as the Anchorage Alaska group holding the Civil Liberties Town Hall Meeting tomorrow night. It's a lot harder than you might think to get undecided voters to show up. We asked our supporters to bring their undecided friends but there is a major problem with that. Our supporters had already converted their friends to Dr. Paul! Most of us quite literally do not know very many non-Paul supporters because when people hear about Ron Paul they support him.
I would suggest advertising on Craigslist in the events section (this has proven worthwhile in the past for us) and putting up flyers on campus and in coffee shops and so forth. This can all be done last-minute and I'm sure would prove to be more effective than what we did, which was actually very little.
Skipping ahead, as though this wasn't all enough for us for one day, John and I went down the street to the tavern to have a beer and to relax a little after the fairly stressful evening. Immediately after we sat down I overheard the two guys next to us talking and I picked out the words "election" "McCain" and "Constitution."
I couldn't help myself. I stood up with my beer and interjected. I said, "Hi, I'm the Madison County Coordinator for Ron Paul, and I'll go ahead and sit right back down if you tell me to, but I overheard what you were talking about and..."
Well, I'll spare you the details, but the Clinton supporter was all about "legalizing weed" which was the only thing he thought Paul was good for and the Obama supporter left the bar saying, "You know what, I'll vote for Ron Paul! My vote won't matter anyway!" (Illinois will go to Obama in the D primary by a margin of about 9 million percentage points.)
And so that concludes The Paulunteer NBC story.
P.S. The Suburban Journal newspaper article I wrote about earlier today was front page, above the fold, and my mom proudly informed me that the words Brian Bailey were in big bold letters up at the top.
After this day of coverage I think I need to quit while I'm ahead, before I say or do something stupid and it gets covered by the media.