Erin Kotecki Vest Meets Senator Barack Obama, Part Two

Standing in the hallway of Roseburg High School, flanked by Secret Service, I made small talk with the local reporters.

‘Medford tv station? Ah, that’s north right?’

‘Oh, you get two questions with Senator Obama, that’s great for local tv.’

Then a press aide of the Senator’s pointed at me and said ‘Erin this is our web guy, you guys can chat. The rest of you-two questions, that’s it. You set up, you ask, you break it down and we go to the next one. -Except for you guys (pointing to me again).’

The ‘web-guy’ then looks at me and starts to mic me ‘yeah, the blogher women get the special campaign treatment.’

And the hallway falls silent as every local reporter in the greater Roseburg, OR area turns to look.

I smirk a bit, shrug my shoulders, and wave.

I’m such a smart ass. At least I stopped short of sticking out my tongue.

The press aide then tells the entire group ‘the Senator will come into the room and get situated, I would appreciate no questions or cameras as he walks in-you’ll have your chance inside.’

‘Web-guy’ then pulls me into the room and asks me if I like the way the backdrop looks. I shrug again and ask if we can move the flags, maybe pull out some chairs, etc.’

…and in walks Senator Barack Obama.

Noticing I was the only face he didn’t recognize in the room he came straight over to me-shook my hand and said ‘what’s your name ?’

‘Erin, I’m with’

‘Yes, the women bloggers’

And with that web-guy continued to talk to me about lighting and blue drapes and chairs. I nodded a lot and said ‘I better go back in the hallway’ and walked past secret service guarding the door and into the glaring eyes of a dozen or so local reporters.

One-by-one they went in with their crews. As the last one walked in, Treina (the makeup artist) and exchanged glances. We are next.

The crew came out of the classroom and we grabbed out bags to walk in.

But no one was calling us in, like they had the others before us.

So we stood, bags in hand, and shifted nervously.

Why aren’t they calling us in? Are they setting something else up? Are there important campaign strategy things happening in there I want to hear? How close to the classroom door can I get before secret service tackles me? Is my hair still totally flat from this heat? It is…damn.

And out into the hallway walks Senator Obama. To his right is the rest of the high school, to the left is Treina and I and a secret service agent.

Senator Obama once again sees us-people he does not recognize- and walks right on over. ‘Hello again, Erin, right-and this is…’

‘Treina,’ says Treina who just 20 second earlier had been pulled aside by an agent who explained to her the Senator’s skin in the event he needed a touch up.

‘Treina-Treina nice to meet you.’

Then the Senator explained to us, as he rolled up his shirt sleeves, that he needed to use the rest room and would be in for the interview in a minute. We smiled and nodded and he turned and walked down the hallway.

Yes, Barack Obama just told me had had to go to the bathroom was really all I could think. However at this point, seemed entirely normal. And I had to REMIND myself it was, in fact, Barack Obama who just excused himself because it seemed just like any other guy.

I was officially, now, no longer nervous to sit down with the Senator. I was, however, nervous about getting through all these questions.

I sat down in the interview chair and flipped through my notecards again. And again. And again. Senator Obama walked in, and I stood (no idea…felt like I should?) and greeted him again as he sat next to me. He began to get his own mic on and said ‘hope I’m not being too revealing’ as he unbuttoned a button or two to get the mic to lay right.

Hope I’m not being too revealing???!!! I averted my eyes. I’m laughing as I type this but as soon as he even JOKED about it I was like ‘OH. MY. GAWD. I MUST NOT LOOK I MUST NOT LOOK I MUST NOT LOOK.’ And I turned my head.

As my 3-year old would say ‘Mama he needs his PRIVACY!’

Then Obama’s press aide knelt under us.

He had a timer or a phone with a timer. Or maybe a recorder? Whatever it was it kept time and he said, ‘ok 10 minutes’ and web-guy said ‘whenever you’re ready’ and I launched into my 12 questions.

The next 10 minutes I was entirely focused on the Senator. I wanted to move a bit faster, but once we got going he seemed to shorten his answers a bit. I could tell time was getting short as we talked about health care because the aide kneeling below us was shifting. A lot. I wanted to look down to see him give me a time count -hold up a finger for 1 minute or something-but I didn’t want to break eye contact with Senator Obama.

Instinct told me to move onto Economy, and quick. And sure enough once we finished the economy question-

“Last Question!” came from the guy on the floor.

The interview ended, we shook hands again, and we posed for a photo. Arms around eachother and smiling I told him BlogHer and it’s 9 million readers would be very pleased he took the time to answer our questions and I thanked him again for the 5th time.

I then grabbed Treina’s camera and snapped a shot of the makeup artist and the Senator.

While he was walking out the door I said ‘Good Luck on Tuesday’ and he stopped, turned and said ‘thank you very much.’

Treina and I then quietly gathered our belongings. I let BlogHer know the tape was in my hands, and we walked in near silence to the parking lot.

Inside the car we shut the doors, turned to look at each-other, and screamed our ever-loving heads off like teenagers.

I love being a blogger. I love being a blogher. I love that after I interviewed the man who very well could make history I could tell you this story, and scream and cry. Years ago I could never have done that.

After interviewing mayors and governors and celebrities, I would tell you stories-but never personal ones about how I FELT while it was happening. I would probably tell you how with morning sickness I nearly threw up on Governor Gray Davis. How interviewing Tom Hanks left me with the impression he really IS a nice guy. I would tell you how a former mayor of LA still calls me Erica and how another former mayor is notorious for spitting while he talks. I may have even told you the story of how Jeb Bush snarked on me. But you’d never know of the pride or joy or excitement or nerves I felt while conducting those interviews.

Now I can tell you. And it feels good.

Long live citizen journalism.


  1. Erin,
    I can not even imagine the feelings you were experiencing through out this whole situation. I think you have done a great job with the interview, and sharing the experience with your readers. Your support for Obama has been worthwhile and it is great to see you getting the interview you deserve.

  2. Well you said it all girl. Think what it means to everyone else that you can share this stuff too — citizen journalism in both directions! Nice. And well done. And Yay.

  3. So cool! Go you! Go us!

    BTW, as for my interviews, Henry Kissinger is friendly, but apparently much shorter than Obama 😉

  4. I had to laugh that you two screaming the car, I think I would have been screaming in my head the whole time. 🙂 If anyone deserved the face to face time like this it’s definitely you.

  5. The interview was fantastic, and I’ve loved hearing the behind the scenes stories. Thank you.

  6. The interview was awesome. I’m so proud of you, and I hope you know what I mean when I say that…just so proud of you as Erin, as a blogger, as a woman. Just PROUD. Go you.

  7. Is it weird that I want to scream FOR you?

    This whole thing is just awesome. I’ve said it before, but GO YOU!

  8. I hope I’m not being too revealing?

    You’re kidding right? Do you think he’s ever said such a thing to a man about to interview him?


  9. Erin, cheers to you for getting the chance to interview the man that I hope will be the next President. I cried after reading this post, not sure why, I think they were tears of joy for you 🙂

  10. Queen of Spain says:

    Denise it was really more of a ‘I hope I’m not offending you’ kind of thing. It was more him being polite. I SWEAR.

  11. Just reading this, I got goose pimples. And then towards the end I got a little misty-eyed. I’m still in awe of you and envious of your once-in-a-million opportunity. So amazing. I don’t even know what else to say!

  12. Even though I am in Australia, and don’t care much about the election besides thinking it would be cool if a non white male were to win it, this made me really proud. Good work BlogHers.

  13. Omigod I’ve been bursting about this – it’s all so f-ing COOL! And I love hearing the personal side of it too, ’cause geez you just get out there and kick ass and it’s kind of dazzling, really. Nice to know your reaction is much like mine would have been in that situation – except I might have started yelling and screaming before I even *got* to the car. AWESOME, Erin! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!

  14. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this whole saga. It was a great interview, great behind-the-scenes look and most of all, an important coup for you and for BlogHer.

  15. I’m a dime a dozen personal journal keeper type blogger. A drop in the bucket.

    But reading this post made me feel so proud, on levels I never even expected.

    Nicely done, Erin. Very nicely done.

  16. Words cannot express how proud I am of you, for this and for all that you do for us: Moms, Bloggers, Women.

    You inspire me daily. Keep it up!


  17. You are my idol….funny thing thou, when I visited my friend in Chicago last week. She’s 63 and me 61…we acted like kids emotionally…as well. It’s fun..

    Glad everything went so well..

    My best,

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call your gram

  18. Erin, that is a wonderful thing. I really enjoyed reading about it. I also probably would have been hooting before I got in the car, very exciting! Great job you did. (in case it matters, I’m Canadian, but Senator Obama has my vote regardless, from what I have gathered, he seems a great man :0)

  19. That is so exciting!!

  20. Huge huge HUGE kudos to you on this. Seriously. I think watching your interview was my first REAL moment when I realized how proud little ol’ me, just a wee 3 month old blogger, is to blog. You’re an inspiration! Congratulations again!

  21. I just came across your blog today – and read this post, which seemed so fitting on this day.

    What an amazing experience!!

  22. Just came back to re-read this today. With tomorrow looming, it seemed appropriate. I love that bloggers have access to the things that matter most.

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