Back Stage With Barack Obama

On Oct. 28, I was given the opportunity to witness a side of Barack Obama that few people have ever had the privilege of experiencing by Julie Carey, a political reporter for NBC. I watched in utter amazement as the possible next president of the United States paced back and forth down a dimly lit corridor, preparing to address a raucous crowd of 10,000 supporters on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg Va.

I asked my supervisor in the consumer unit at NBC4 if it would be possible to tag along with Julie to cover the Obama rally.  My supervisor, Erin Van der Bellen, arranged for me to meet up with Julie at the Vienna Metro Station and drive out to the rally from there.

The emotion I felt in the moments spent in that dark corridor with Obama was very invigorating. I got to see Obama in a light that many do not get to see, without political strategists, without his aids, without his family, only his thoughts.

Standing there I was almost overwhelmed by Obama’s aura, the mere physical presence of Obama was moving. I was invigorated as I watched Obama collect his thoughts and practice his routine before delivering a speech in the closing days of this long hard fought campaign.

I noticed Obama’s stoic face, watching as he put together the final pieces of the puzzle to this long, hard-fought battle for the White House.

I stood listening to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine give his closing remarks to the crowd, warming them up for the grand finale. "And let’s give a warm JMU welcome to the next president of the United States, Barack Obama," Kaine said. I stood there while Obama was released from the dark corridor and unleashed into his element -- shaking hands as he made his way to the podium.

Senator Obama delivered his speech to the crowd, importing a sense of urgency to get up and vote. “If you knock on some doors for me,” Obama insisted, we can change this country and we can change the world. “That is why I am running for president of the United States.”

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After the conclusion of his address Senator Obama made his way up back through the dark corridor with the American flag hanging behind him, ready to give a one-on-one interview with Julie Carey.

I stood there and watched as Senator Obama gave a two-minute stand-up interview defending his earlier stance on “spreading the wealth around.” I stood there and witnessed Obama explain that, “look it isn’t about socialism, it is about opportunity.”

When he was finished, Obama’s campaign advisor snapped a shot of me and Obama shaking hands. Afterward, I said to Obama, “Good luck the rest of the way.” Obama then walked back into the room filled with strategists and planners, on route to Suffolk.

John Orofino is a 21-year-old student from Mill Valley, Calif., studying political journalism in the Washington Semester Program at American University.

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