It was one of my most popular posts ever, so I decided to follow up with Blue Star Mom and “Stop Obama Tour” participant Deborah Johns. In this follow-up interview, I asked her how she thought the tour went and what the future holds for her tour sponsor, among other things.
monoblogue: We know the featured speakers on the “Stop Obama” tour were yourself, singer-songwriter Lloyd Marcus, and Internet talk radio host Mark Williams. But how large of an entourage made the trip with you three? And how did you occupy the travel time between venues?
Johns: We occupied our time by answering thousands of e-mails we would receive and confirming the different locations for the rallies we had with local supporters, sending out press releases. This was more work than anyone knows.
There were 5 other people who came along the trip. The guys were responsible for confirming the rally locations, sending out the press releases, contacting local supporters, set up and tear down of our podium and sound equipment. Everyone worked really great together and enjoyed the company of one another.
monoblogue: In the original interview, you noted it was “anyone’s guess” how much press coverage you’d get. Since you did get some reasonably favorable national press coverage, would you consider that aspect of your trip a success?
Johns: I think our press coverage was great. Every location we were at we had local reporters. However, it still would have been nice to get some national coverge. We did, however, appear on Fox and Friends and that was really good. We had supporters come out at 6:00 a.m. to hold up signs and show their support. We then had about 20 of them come on the bus and had coffee and juice together and that was a lot of fun.
monoblogue: A question regarding strategy. Late in the tour, your strategists decided to abandon the Ohio and Pennsylvania stops (except for Toledo, Ohio) and return to Michigan citing encouraging poll results. Now that we can look back and see how closely McCain lost Ohio (by 4 points) do you believe the focus should have been on Ohio instead?
Johns: I still think we made the right decision to go back to Michigan and abandon Ohio, simply because McCain and Palin were covering that so much. Even though we lost there by 4 points, it was a tight race, and we had the opportunity to tighten things in Michigan. We were pressed for time, and Pennsylvania was just impossible to cover at that point.
monoblogue: One thing you were pleased about initially was having a Blue Star Mom on the ticket in Governor Palin. While her and John McCain’s bid came up short, as one who’s not a political insider per se but one who closely follows the political scene, would you consider Sarah Palin the favorite for the 2012 nomination?
Johns: I certainly would like to see her run in 2012. However, my sense is that she probably will not make that bid, she may make a bid for a Congressional or Senate seat instead. We will just have to wait and see. She energized the base of the Republican party and women as well. But we have about a year and a half to go to see if this is a viable option for her. A lot is going to depend on how the Obama Administration handles things considering his overwhelming lack of experience. He is going to have to surround himself with a lot of knowledgable people who are willing to reach out to the American people and across party lines to maintain their momentum. He is going to be heavily criticized for everything he does, especially by the left if he does not follow through with the things he has said on his campaign trail. They are a vicious group, unforgiving, and will turn on their own in a heartbeat.
monoblogue: As a follow-up to that, if you believe the national media, they claimed that Governor Palin was a drag on the GOP ticket. Did you sense that with the crowds at any of your stops or did you perceive she was actually the root cause of their enthusiasm?
Johns: I never saw Governor Palin as a drag on the ticket, and never once sensed that from anyone we met on the trip. Here is what happens when a ticket loses. In order for the staffers to save face and to now have to go out and get employed, they start playing the blame game so they don’t look like the ones who mismanaged anything. Personally, it does not do anyone any good to do this sort of thing, there is nothing to gain from it, and I do not believe any of the backbiting comments that are being said about her. That type of diva attitude that is being thrown around would have come out and been very obvious in Governor Palin’s speeches. She was always very warmly received by people and everyone said how genuine she is, and I think it is tragic that these staffers are doing this and it is very unprofessional of them.
monoblogue: Final question. In my original interview I asked about your personal plans if Obama won, so now I shift to your employer’s plans. What will the Our Country Deserves Better organization focus on now that Obama has won – will they become a watchdog-style group staying focused on the Obama Administration or will they branch out into legislative politics and advocacy on a Congressional level?
Johns: We do plan to be a watchdog for what happens in the Obama Administration, especially when it comes to matters concerning our military and national defense. We are also going to look at Congressional and Senate issues and hold them accountable as well.
Again, I appreciate her taking the time to answer my questions. Deborah told me she had a backlog of 1200 e-mails upon her return, which isn’t surprising given the number of people she spoke to along the way.
In my political life, I’ve met a number of candidates for office and it goes without saying the vast majority of them work hard to secure their election. The same goes for thousands of volunteers and paid staff who devote months to making their choice the most popular one on the ballot.
But you have to hand it to someone who’s not officially affiliated with a campaign or some other elected official stumping on another candidate’s behalf to take two weeks out of their life and travel cross-country on a bus, never really knowing the type of reception they’ll get when they arrive at the next stop or what will come up in the meantime. It’s why I enjoyed the opportunity to twice get a glimpse into that sort of devotion, and hopefully the next time she feels the need to travel across the country from California she’ll stop and say hello to this end of the country.
There is one item to add from the small talk we had after completing this interview, basically talking about where we each would go from here.
I agree with you. I truly wanted fromer Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to run. I think he would have been a much better choice for the .We all need to focus on some bigger issues, like doing away with early voting, and making sure that everyone who is registered to vote is a US citizen so there is no more voter fraud, they are not registered in multiple states. We have the technology to do this, and for the benefit of the country, this should be done.I am sure you will see a lot of “watch dog” groups being formed for just these reasons. (Emphasis mine.)