Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Buzz on Obama-Bayh

Senators Evan Bayh and Barack Obama shared the stage today in Indiana.

The New York Times:
As Senator Evan Bayh introduced Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, at a town hall style meeting here today, there was more scrutiny than usual of the interaction of the two men. That’s because Mr. Bayh’s name is said to be on the short list of candidates Mr. Obama is considering as his running mate.

But for those who parse such things, the pickings may have been slim. Mr. Bayh made the only introductory speech at the event at Concord High School here, referring to Mr. Obama as “my friend, our neighbor” and noting that this was Mr. Obama’s 42nd visit to the state.

Mr. Bayh, however, focused his remarks on the political battle that lay ahead and marveled at the effort Mr. Obama is making to win the state, calling it “a very unusual thing.”

When Mr. Obama took the stage, the two men embraced, Mr. Obama smiling broadly as he patted Mr. Bayh on the shoulder. And during the question-and-answer session that followed his remarks on energy policy, Mr. Obama went out of his way to praise Mr. Bayh.

In response to a question about an issue that has not been much in the headlines, he said that Mr. Bayh has been working “diligently” on “locking down nuclear weapons and loose nuclear material.”

On Tuesday, The Indianapolis Star interviewed Mr. Bayh, who said that he hadn’t been asked to join the ticket. Despite speculation surrounding Mr. Obama’s stop in the Hoosier State today, Mr. Bayh told the Star: “”I’m absolutely confident there will be no announcement,” he said. “I guess the best way to put it is, if there’s an announcement, I’d be as surprised as anybody else.”
TIME notes that both worked a diner today:
Obama and Bayh came in the front, turned right and started working the booths, ropeline style. Obama passed a table of steelworkers and reached beyond them. A bulky steelworker, a local named Tony Capriglione, shouted out at Bayh, “you get a job offer yet?”

The table fell out laughing. Bayh shifted his eyes with mock stealth and discomfort. “Shhhh,” he said, walking his eyebrows in Obama’s direction.

Then a lady in a pink shirt got in on the fun. “He your vice president?” She shouted at Obama. He chuckled and pretended like he was going to ignore her. “I haven’t made a decision about my vice president yet,” he said over his shoulder.

Obama went through a succession of admirers and supplicants: a guy wearing a wife-beater, a fireman, a kid wearing an “I..Am…So…Pissed…Off” t-shirt. He made his way to the formica counter, ordered a cheeseburger with mustard, lettuce, tomato and three more with the works. A few diners sat sullenly as he worked the second half of the room, stonefaced and staring ahead as they worked through their nosh. Other people clearly were as excited to see Bayh as they were Obama. But most everyone in the room was about the senator from Chicago, had pens and cellphones at the ready, and angled hard for a keepsake to mark their brush with the presumptive nominee. There is a tape if you fancy a sampling of the individual conversations.

Outside was another scrum of local press and latecomers, maybe 100 people in all. Obama and Bayh worked the crowd, moving toward the bus. It was here that Bayh announced he was a big White Sox fan (Hey! Just like Obama!), prompting more than a few knowing eyerolls from the jaded national press corps.

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