Barack Obama is coming to Portland on Tuesday, September 25th, at 4:00 pm. He'll be speaking at one of Portland's storied venues, The Expo. In my opinion, if you have a chance to see a candidate in person, definitely take advantage of it. Often, something they say, or how they say it, can tip you off on whether or not you want him/her as your candidate for the White House.
While Obama isn't my guy (to be honest, I'm at a loss right now as to who I'd vote for, if I had to make a decision), I've somehow ended up on his fundraising list. It seems I became a target for the BarackObama.com folks when I sent my blog/article about Gary, Indiana, along with a few suggestions I had for dealing with urban America's problems. Rather than respond, I just became another name on the list of people to target for funds.
While on the topic of fundraising, if you are planning to head down to the Expo, you better look closer at the fine print; attending this event, another one of Obama's "Countdown to Change" exercises will cost you $23.00 a pop! Apparently, just for the privilege of hearing the candidate, you've got to cough up cash, whether you've made up your mind, or not.
Now I know running for office cost boatloads of cash, but I've seen countless other candidates for free. Personally, I'm somewhat offended by being asked to pay to hear the candidate. In 2004, I saw Dennis Kucinich in Bath, John Kerry in Portland and John Kerry/John Edwards in Lewiston and I didn't have to fork over a penny. I guess it's a new day in America where access to political wannabes requires payment.
I probably would have attended the Portland event, if it was for free. But being charged to hear what the great Obama has up his sleeves for America doesn't sit well with me. Then, I hear from my wife that she got an email from the campaign, justifying their policy of charging, when she expressed similar reservations about paying for political access. I've definitely soured on Obama for 2008. In my opinion, our pickings for president are pretty slim.
Need to raise funds? Have a fundraiser and bring out your well-heeled supporters and shake them down, which is what everyone does. But don't charge admission for your first event in Maine, open to the public. It doesn't make you seem very inclusive and it does nothing to attract those on the fence who might come see you, but resent being asked to contribute to a campaign that they haven't yet decided to endorse.