Ten Questions follow up: Blue Star Mom Deborah Johns

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 Republican Party.

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.)
I had to let her know that we just adopted early voting in Maryland, so that makes the task that much more difficult.
One new fact of life with the internet, a facet of the 2008 campaign I found fascinating, is the sheer number of new organizations which popped up armed with a pitch and a good e-mail list. A lot of them will likely fade away now that the election is done, but many others will take root and aim for real change in 2010 and beyond. It sounds like hers will attempt to do the same.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

9 thoughts on “Ten Questions follow up: Blue Star Mom Deborah Johns”

  1. Sir:

    You have answered my question of yesterday — the wake up call this week has gone unnoticed. If the GOP can’t understand or appreciate the situation, its fate is fixed.

    An immediate action: ditch Palin — give her a big air-conditioned igloo with a special closet for her new wardrobe, or anything needed to keep her off the national stage.

  2. Why would we ditch our most popular figure? 69% of Republicans said Palin helped the ticket. And when we’ll have a 4 year record of Obama/Biden to contrast a record of however long Sarah Palin remains Governor of Alaska, the choice will be clear.

    It’s interesting that these moderate-to-liberal folks continue to give the Republicans “helpful” advice.

  3. It’s elementary, Dr. Watson: 69% of Republicans is not a majority, or even a viable plurality.

    Even with a crash course, would she be able to detect a fake phone call by “Nicholas Sarcozy” by then? Maybe she could do a stint as a presenter on “Entertainment Tonight” after she’s been voted out of office up north.

  4. AP announced that Kratovil defeated Harris! Yay!
    Here’s some “helpful” advice from a liberal: keep running negative campaigns, go ahead and run Palin. You will get crushed. All we will need to do is mention the giant shopping spree and she is done. Not to mention leaked info about her lack of knowledge (Africa is a continent Sarah, really it is), and Tina Fey’s killer impression. If 69% of Republicans said it helped the ticket (when was that poll taken, by the way–before or after the election?), that means 31% said no. Add to the polls that show Palin’s unfavorables dramatically increasing as time wore on, and the fact that she chased away moderates in both parties and women all over. Yep, that sounds like the candidate for you!

  5. See, FF, the problem with your theory is that you’re thinking of how the world is here and now while I’m pondering what things may be like four years hence. Oh, and by the way, 20% had no opinion either way so only 11% said she hurt the ticket – they must be all disgruntled McCain aides.

    If the media had hounded Barack Obama anywhere near as badly as they hounded Sarah Palin, Obama’s negatives would have skyrocketed as well. Witness the screaming headlines about Palin’s so-called ethics violations compared with the probably page B-19 paragraph – “oh, Palin was cleared of any wrongdoing on that.”

    And how did Barack Obama’s 51st through 57th states vote, anyway?

    I will agree on the part about negative campaigns, but your side goes first.

  6. Give me a break! The media hounded Palin? She got a free pass for the first 2 weeks, and then had to answer really, really tough questions like: which newspapers do you read? Answer: all of them. Follow-up: can you name a single newspaper? Answer: no. Did you see Palin’s medical records? Nope. She was the only one who did not release them, but the press gave her a pass on that. When was the poll taken that you cite, about Palin’s approval rating? I’d love to know if it was before or after the election. Negative campaigning? Seriously, you want to try to argue that the Obama campaign was even close to as negative as the McCain campaign? Wow. You are a smart guy. If you cannot see that the McCain/Harris campaigns’ focus on the negative was a significant factor in their defeat, then you might not be as smart as I think you are. In all honesty I think I saw 1 or 2 positive McCain ads (defined as those that explain what the candidate intends to do rather than focuses on attacking the other guy), and I saw loads of negative ones. Obama never attacked Palin, and Biden never suggested she was not fit to be vp. The closest to a negative ad I saw was Obama’s suggestion that McCain’s healthcare plan sucked. Notice hte difference: Obama went after a proposed plan, not after the guy. You snide comment about the 57 states is a perfect example of what you all did wrong: all thinking human beings understand that Obama mispoke. You guys, however, tried to suggest that the past editor of the Harvard Law Review didn’t know how many states there are. It undermined your credibility and made you look petty while Obama was discussing issues of substance (even if you disagree with them–how were wwe to know since your focus was on negativity rather than issues?). Then you elevate Joe the Plumber to iconic status without vetting him—the guy skips out on a campaign rally and makes McCain look foolish! Joe the Plumber is all about himself, not McCain. Kinda like Sarah Palin. I know this is all Monday morning quarterbacking, but I cannot believe you seriously think the negative campaigning was even close.

  7. Okay, FF, here’s my questions for you.

    What did Bristol Palin’s pregnancy or the fact Governor Palin has a five-month old child have to do with her qualifications to be VP? Is that only going to be directed at female candidates? If so that’s pretty sexist.

    I believe the poll regarding 60% disapproval of Palin was pre-election while the poll that 89% of Republicans who said Palin either had no effect on or helped the ticket was post-election.

    When did Obama release his medical records? He must have done that late in the game.

    Now about negative campaigning. I’ll cheerfully admit that I don’t recall seeing a single McCain spot on TV and the Obama ones I saw were reasonably positive. Honestly, I watch very little TV. However, when you talk about the Harris/Kratovil race, the spots provided by outside organizations tended to be the negative ones, but both candidates provided their share from their own campaigns.

    Unfortunately, negative camapigns work. I don’t like them but they seem to sell.

    Now let’s discuss Joe the Plumber. If Barack Obama had come up to me and talked about something I questioned, believe me I would have asked something along that same line. But Joe didn’t become an icon because of his question, Barack Obama made him an icon because of his “spread the wealth” answer. It showed Barack’s true intentions.

    But why would you have to vet a private citizen who didn’t work for the McCain campaign, had no official position there, and simply wanted to ask a man who would be President a question? Is there now a rule that asking a liberal candidate who is a darling of the press a question the press wouldn’t dare ask gives implicit permission to dredge up any foibles of his past? We found out more about Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher in three days than we found out about Barack Hussein Obama in eighteen months insofar as his private affairs go.

    There was a saying in the eighties – “Question Authority”. Is that not allowed under the Messiah? (Not my words, those were Louis Farrakhan’s.) Well, then call me guilty as charged.

  8. Seriously? Why vet Joe te Plumber? Becuase they made him a centerpiece of McCain’s debate, that is why!!!! It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that maybe they should check up on the guy before Mccain mentions him 8 times in a debate. Duh. As for Bristol Palin, please show me where the Obama campaign was anything but nice. Obama established early on that families were out of bounds, and they did nothing about this. So if you want to go off the campaign reservation and look at what supporters did rather than the campaigns themselves, your side looks far worse. far worse.

Comments are closed.