It was a great privilege to have the chance to attend the Town Hall meeting with President Obama in Costa Mesa on Wednesday. I have had the opportunity to cover a number of events with the Democratic Party over my three years of blogging, but not as a credentialed member of the White House press.
I had expected that press would have had full run of the room affording the opportunity for a few good photos and conversations with participants.
Well, I was a bit disappointed to find out that the print media were placed in a gated press area. The media riser was in front of us blocking our view of the stage. As Martin Wisckol reported on Total Buzz, if we wanted to see the President speak, live internet feed was about the best we were going to get. Of course, I had decided against bringing my laptop.
I was able to get credentialed as a freelance reporter for another publication, and assign my LiberalOC credential over to our blogger Steve Perez. Steve was unsuccessful in getting a ticket after waiting in line at the Fairgrounds over Monday night. I had just enough time to get him my credential before the White House Press Office finalized their list.
There is something to be said for the enthusiasm of youth. Steve crawled under the risers once the President arrived to get an unobstructed, yet uncomfortable, view of the event.
Even after the town hall ended, the print and TV media were not allowed out of our playpen. It was rather comical watching reporters begging the participants for an interview. It felt like we were in a petting zoo begging for treats from visitors.
One of the aspects of the President’s visit that I haven’t seen much if any coverage about is the fact that there were more tickets issued than seats. There was a line of about 100 people standing along the wall.
Other than the President’s opening remarks, which were displayed on a teleprompter, the entire event was unscripted. The President took questions randomly from the audience. I was impressed with President Obama’s ability to think on his feet, and answer every question tossed at him. Televised perspectives of town hall meetings during the campaign did not fully convey Obama’s ability to command a room in this setting.
One disappointment I had while blogging the event was the hour and a half it took Twitter to transmit my Twitter posts. I’m not quite sure why that happened. I could see my comments post on the Twitter website, but the delay of the text messages was really frustrating.
As Steve and I were leaving the press parking lot on Arlington, we saw the four Marine helicopters, one carrying the President, flying towards Long Beach. That was cool.