Sunday, February 7, 2010

President Obama: Behind the Scenes

Just a few days ago the President of the United States of America was standing not even 100 feet away from me. During President Obama’s trip to Nashua for a Town Hall Meeting, I was a student chosen to go see him deliver his speech. What I found most fascinating about the actual event was not the speech but rather the behind the scenes look I was able to get. As a member of the student newspaper I was given the opportunity of attending the event with the press.
Arriving two hours before his speech I was given plenty of time to understand the planning and explore the scene before he arrives. Set up in the way back of the gym were bleachers for the presses’ cameras as well as tables behind them for laptops. In the back there was a separate entrance for the press with a security dog sniffing around. There were two different places for press, they had local press and then they had the national press team that follows Obama in a separate room. With my special press pass I wasn’t able to leave the small box that we were enclosed in, yet there were plenty of interesting people to meet.

I met with the White House Event Planner, who was in charge of handling all of President Obama’s trips such as this one. He was in charge of picking the location, contacting local contractors for the light and stage, and coming a week before to scope the location. Seven days prior to the actual town hall meeting his team check out the location and keep an eye out for any precautions needed to be taken. He brings the podium as well as the teleprompter. When the music plays as President Obama is leaving, he is the one to play it. As I spoke to him he sounded almost bored with his job description. Yet for me, this was all new and particularly exciting

Later I met with some of local press and who their views on the event. One thing I noticed in particular is that there wasn’t much excitement. This is understandable considering the press have heard the President talk about the same issues numerous times. The feeling behind the bleachers was simply one of extreme boredom it seemed like. Personally, I found it to be intriguing yet at the same time these people simply had to wait for hours for the President to arrive. It is understandable why by that point they are not as excited as they would have been in the beginning of the President’s journey. From a behind the scenes perspective there was extremely tight security and Secret Service members everywhere. When asked for a few questions they promptly but politely declined. Even student volunteers were given training and were unable to say anything.

Obama’s speech itself covered a myriad of topics and discussed the problems found to be most prevalent in our community. President Obama discussed the need to make unpopular decisions in order to help the financial crisis. He spoke of our need for new development in green energy and new jobs for 2010. He also managed to answer a few questions from the crowd, including a student who attends Nashua High School South. The questions ranged from healthcare to education and then to greener energy. Overall Obama was able to touch upon the issues that are worrying the residents of Nashua the most right, mainly jobs and unemployment. Overall the experience was one of a lifetime. The President opened up to Nashua with future plans, now we must wait on his actions regarding them.

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