Live Chat on Ustream-Queen of Spain Talks Clinton Remarks

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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.

Erin Kotecki Vest Meets Senator Barack Obama, Part One

There is a story behind the BlogHer interview you probably don’t know. Several, actually.

-I wasn’t supposed to be doing the interview.

-I shopped at the Eugene, Oregon Target at 8pm Friday night for camera-ready clothes, notecards, and hairspray.

-I met the Senator from Illinois in the hallway of Roseburg High School while he was on his way to use the rest room. I know this. He told me so.

It all started somewhere around Wednesday when I had a good idea BlogHer was about to land this interview. BlogHer contributing editor Kim Pearson would be asking the questions and I would be producing. Which means I could be in the room but on the sidelines, hopefully meeting Obama but not worried about the pressures of on camera.

Friday afternoon, en route to Eugene, I got a call:

‘Kim’s flight is delayed, she may not make it out. You need to prepare to do this interview.’

My mind switched gears and I started to plan.

How well did I know the questions?

What clothes did I bring?

Crap I haven’t had my hair done in weeks.

Oh my gawd I haven’t had a pedicure in longer.

What if I ask all of them by category and don’t make it to the last category?

Should I split them up? Jump from Iraq to the Economy and back?

I’m very sure my roots are showing.

I wonder if they have a mall near my hotel.

I need to review those questions closer.

I then landed in Eugene and the status of just who was interviewing the Senator was still up in the air. Or on the ground in Newark, as the case may be.

I decided to head to the nearest Target and see if I couldn’t figure out an outfit and a strategy for getting through 12 policy questions in 7-10 minutes on the campaign schedule.

I wondered if those 7-10 minutes included him getting set up with a mic? Us chatting quickly before hand to make sure we were ready? Did it start when he sat down and tape rolled? Did it start when he walked in the room? What if he was late?

I clung to the campaign’s promise of 10 minutes and plotted my question priority as I rifled through solid colored shirts at Target that were NOT white or black (you know, like everything in my suitcase).

Throwing things in the cart I moved on to shoes (I had black shoes and flip flops) while I went over all 12 questions again in my head, reminding myself to google when I got back to the hotel ‘Obama stance on public transportation.’

I didn’t want to prioritize the blogher community questions with everything he’s already said on record. I wanted to at least try to get him to speak about some of the issues we don’t hear every day.

I then grabbed a pack of waters and some trail mix, knowing Treina ( the make up artist) and myself might be trapped in Roseburg all day with who knows what available. I also grabbed a bottle of wine and an extra pack of gum.

This interview was not a surprise investigation by us. We’ve had these questions on the record since the BlogHer conference last July. So I knew this was not going to be a ‘follow up question’ or ‘on the spot attack’ type of interview. That helped. Back in the day I would have been plotting 40 follow ups and 40 different takes on those follow ups depending on his answers. This was a simple Q & A of well known questions. So while I was back in my hotel plotting just how to do anything with my root-showing, not hair-cut in 6 weeks, hair -it occurred to me the best thing to do was to prioritize each question in each category and go with the flow of the interview and hope I didn’t have to cut him off.

I’m sorry Senator but you are being entirely too long winded and I only have 10 minutes here, so let’s move on.

Then at 10pm pacific Kim called from Salt Lake City. She was turning back around to Newark, and I was sprawled on my hotel room bed-furiously writing BlogHer’s questions on notecards.

I went to sleep knowing I would wake up Saturday morning, drive an hour and a half with my semi-polished toes and stringy-hair, and sit down and chat with the man who could very well be our next president.

I called my family. I sent out a few emails.

Then I quietly sobbed in my stale, hotel pillow.

I cried for joy at my opportunity, sadness over the stress I knew my kids and family were dealing with, and I cried to relieve myself of any emotion I had over what was about to happen.

Part Two, tomorrow. I scream, I cry more, and I meet a senator.

I Remember Mama Voting

*crossposted at

My mother has never been the most political person in our family. Pregnant with me at 18-years of age, her life was preoccupied with things like bassinets and receiving blankets instead of the economy and war.

However it was my mother who wrote the note to my high school principal on MY 18th birthday excusing me from class so I could go register to vote.

It was also my mother who encouraged me to get involved in anything and everything regardless of what our Catholic neighborhood shunned or what our relatives said.

She has always voted, but it has been this election that has her arguing back at my aunt who calls to rag on Democrats or my uncle who makes fun of the candidates. It is this election she rings me during the ABC debate to YELL about flagpins and other ‘really stupid’ questions.

I LOVE that my Mom calls to talk about the election much more vocally than she has EVER done. More importantly, she is CONFIDENT in what she says and debates.

Makes me proud.

My mother’s political influence has always been one of support for my beliefs and has turned into a dual education on policy and issues. Her political world has been expanded by mine, but I am reminded at how very different our 18th birthdays were-and how far we’ve come.

As part of ACORN’s ‘I Remember Mama Voting’ project BlogHers and others are weighing in this Mother’s Day.

Contributing Editor Kim Pearson writes, “But the most important political lessons were about my African legacy. She showed me South Africa, told me about apartheid, and said, ‘Always remember, we will never be free until South Africa is free.’ She introduced me to real Africans, made sure I read about the new countries emerging, and about their efforts to press their cause at the United Nations. All of this while we tracked each success and failure of the civil rights struggle, and talked about whether black women had any business getting involved in feminism.”

Contributing Editor Suzanne Reisman says, “My mom is not as involved in political causes as I am, but my family has always been Democrats surrounded by a Republican community. I just always knew that Republicans were not for us, although when I was older, I remember overhearing my father telling our neighbor a bizarre joke about my mom voting for Ronald Reagan because she thought Jimmy Carter had bad legs. I was utterly horrified at the thought. How could my mom vote for a Republican?!?! Fortunately, when I asked her about it, she had no idea what I was talking about, but it was my first exposure to the stereotypical notion that women don’t vote on the issues, but rather on a candidate’s attractiveness. I thought that was the dumbest thing any woman could do, and swore I would follow my mom’s example and always vote for the candidate who would help ‘the people.’ Thanks, Mom!”

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan writes, “I remember the first political discussion I ever had with my mother. We had been in a waiting room with many magazines, and I was too young to read any of them, but I did notice covers with horribly graphic photos of men at war. It happened to be towards the end of the Vietnam War, and I asked my mother, ‘Why is there war?’ She told me that people don’t want to be at war, the leaders of the countries make the wars. That was when I realized women were not in positions of political power. Then I said, ‘We should make women the leaders of all the countries in the world, and then there would never be any wars.’ My mother told me that sounded like a good idea, but it probably would never happen. My response was, ‘Then those men leaders who want a war, should fight it themselves.’ I didn’t understand then, and I still don’t understand today, how war solves any problems, neither does my mother.”

Rontun writes, “No, I don’t have any photographic evidence to prove that Satan’s inferno suddenly has been transformed into a winter wonderland, nor am I meaning to suggest that the threat of global warming has abated. But it’s evident to me that there has been a climate shift of cosmic proportions.

Let me explain. My mother, an octogenarian who’s voted Republican her entire life except in 1960 when she elected to support JFK because he shared her Roman Catholic faith, revealed to me on the telephone yesterday that she’s voting in Kentucky’s upcoming primary for Barack Obama!

This is no minor transformation, and it began as a direct consequence of the Bush administration’s war policies combined with the emergence in power of the evangelical community.”

L.K. Campbell says, “One of the biggest political arguments that I remember between Mama and Daddy happened during the 1972 presidential campaign. Daddy never voted for a Republican. If our German shepherd dog ran against the Republican incumbent, Lady would’ve gotten Daddy’s vote.
When he announced his intention to vote for George McGovern, Mama couldn’t believe it. Even though she was a registered Democrat, she was way too conservative to vote for McGovern.
‘You mean to tell me that you’re going to vote for that hippie-loving radical?’ she asked.”

Many of us in some way, shape, or form have been influenced by our mother’s or grandmother’s or stepmother’s or a friend’s mother’s political voice. Share your story this Mother’s Day-and don’t forget to vote.

Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog.

Republicans Hate Their Mothers

Well, at least 178 of them do:

“On Wednesday afternoon, the House had just voted, 412 to 0, to pass H. Res. 1113, ‘Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother’s Day,’ when Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), rose in protest.

‘Mr. Speaker, I move to reconsider the vote,’ he announced.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who has two young daughters, moved to table Tiahrt’s request, setting up a revote.

This time, 178 Republicans cast their votes against mothers.”

They must have heard we’ve organized. They must have heard we’re kicking ass and taking names.

They must have heard we’ve caught wind of what the ORIGINAL Mother’s Day was all about:

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:

We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
-First Stanza of The Mother’s Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe.

As part of the ‘Dreams of Our Mother’s” project over at MOMocrats I confess my dreams are being realized, as are my mother’s. Not only do we have a voice, but we are making a difference. And we are just. getting. started.

MOMocrats: Dreams of a Mother
Which means my daughter, if she chooses to become a mother or not, will be even more empowered than her mother.

God Help You All.

Oh, and Rep. Todd Tiahrt, you are in luck. I’ll be in Kansas in a few weeks. Can’t wait to chat.

Lesbians, Lynchings, and Little Ones

I was on the phone today when a friend asked me if I saw crazy Ann Coulter’s latest ploy at media whoring. In all honesty I had not seen whatever asinine thing she muttered because I have been busy, and really she does not rate me raising my eyebrow anymore.

The conversation on my end went like this:

‘Ugh. Her. What this time?’

‘Uh huh’

‘Uh huh’

‘CNN has lost all credibility.’

‘Did she really say LYNCHING?’

At which point my son said ‘Mom what is lynching?’

I froze, told my friend to hang on a second and then said,

‘Honey Mommy is on the phone, use your phone manners please’

and then went through 300 possibilities in my head on exactly how to explain lynching to a 5-year old.

My little one went about his car zooming business in the kitchen and I kept talking on the phone.


‘Oh, the Fox guy?’

a Yummy Lesbian? Figures’

Mr. Big Ears didn’t miss a beat,

‘Mom-what’s a lesbian?

‘uhhhhh’ I stuttered…now mind you I have no problem explaining ‘gay and lesbian’ to my son at all-but my mind was still reeling from having dodged (like an idiot) the lynching question.

‘sometime when girls marry other girls (ok, that’s a stretch) and boys like other boys people say they are gay and lesbian’

Holy crap what a horrible explanation!

No idea why I said ‘marry’ when I am all for living in sin -other than the issue of gay marriage has been weighing heavily on me as it’s one of the only things I’m unhappy with Senator Obama about…and why I switched to ‘boys like other boys’ is entirely beyond me too.

So later after hanging up the phone and watching some Tom & Jerry I thought I would approach the subjects again and attempt to redeem myself,

‘Honey remember earlier when you asked me what ‘lesbian’ meant and what ‘lynching’ meant?’

‘Mom look at this cool wheel I made-what if I shoot it like a rocket outside on the grass….’

…and he ran out the back door to play in the yard.

I suck.

MOMocrats exclusive: Screw George & Charlie, We’ll Ask Ourselves

There was a bit of an uproar after that last ABC debate. I’d say maybe it was only political junkies or those who really pay close attention to politics-but I’d be wrong.

My MOM called me to yell about FlagPins…

So guess what we did over at MOMocrats? Yeah, we took matters into our own hands…and Senator Barack Obama answered.

MOMocrats EXCLUSIVE with Barack Obama

MOMocrats step up where mainstream media and traditional debates let the American public down, “Things we wish they’d asked in the debates…”

Recently, MOMocrats asked the Democratic Presidential candidates the questions we all wish reporters or moderators had asked in any interview or debate. Today, Senator Barack Obama sent back his answers to the MOMocrats’ questions. This is the latest example of the influence political blogging groups are showing in the presidential campaign.

The most recent debate between the Democratic candidates was disappointing to most citizens. We felt that the questions were directed more towards mud slinging between the candidate rather than substantive questions about domestic and foreign policy. So the MOMocrats and their readers came up with a list of “Questions We Wish ABC Had Asked.” Then we submitted them to the candidates.

In a MOMocrats exclusive, Barack Obama answers the questions that should have been asked during the last debate. Click here to read our interview, in which he finally gets to discuss the issues, not his apparel or acquaintances.


“We were really frustrated with the questions that were asked in the last debate so we came up with a list of questions from our contributors and readers,” said MOMocrats Managing Editor Glennia Campbell. “We appreciated that the Obama campaign took our questions seriously and answered them thoroughly.”

We haven’t heard from the Clinton campaign yet, but the MOMocrats invitation for Senator Clinton to weigh in remains open.


I think CityMama says it best, “I don’t have the funds to attend every fundraiser that comes along, but what I do have are 10 fingers, a laptop, and enough marketing savvy to make me dangerous. MOMocrats is my phone banking. It is my check-book-wielding. It is my canvassing neighborhoods. It is all of that on a world-wide scale. Some people drop checks in the mail. I drop knowledge along with 21 other kick-ass women. It is the best way I know how to make change happen.”

Special thanks to Geoff Livingston for helping us spread the word.

As PunditMOM says:       MOMocrats-WORLD DOMINATION BY 2012! 


I did it.

I put an Obama ’08 bumper sticker on the back of the Momvan, MOSTLY to reassure MYSELF this nomination is not going to be stolen.

See the bumper sticker is never coming off. Someone is going to buy the ‘ol Town & Country years from now and try scraping that baby off for days. I remember trying to get a Dead sticker off the back of my VW in college and it was NEVER COMING OFF.

So what pushed me to the permanent, van-ruining measures?

I can’t stop thinking about what will happen if by some insane (and entirely evil) move the numbers shift and Senator Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

What will I do???

Keeping in mind I always live in crazy fantasy land where things like MATH do not matter, I can not seem to shut my brain off to the scenario in which I am faced with Clinton or McCain.

Echoing the Sicilian from the Princess Bride, ‘clearly I can not choose the wine in front of me…’

Or can I?

I voted Nader before and watched the chaos. I can’t do that again. McCain ‘aka Mr. women just need more training and education’ is not an option. 100 years in Iraq and the Supreme Court. Too big. Too much.

So in all honesty we’re looking at having to vote for Clinton. There is no other ‘REAL’ option without possibly throwing Roe vs. Wade, soldiers and Iraqi lives right out the window. Could I seriously look at my kids and tell them I COULD have voted for someone capable of ending the war, capable of securing the Supreme Court for the next 40 years, capable of pushing through some sort of national health care plan…and yet I didn’t, because I wanted to take a stand against politics as usual.

But HOW can I vote Clinton in my crazy fantasy nightmare, knowing what we ALL NOW KNOW.


So I put the bumper stick on. The uber-sticky, there for life, Obama ’08 bumper sticker. PERMANENT reminder about what this election season has meant for me.

Also a total bet that it will mean something come November 4th.

However I like to make bets, and I tend to get cocky about them.

Time to get cocky again.

Even if cocky means a bumper sticker on a minivan, hauling two kids to preschool.