Carson City cheers Obama | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City cheers Obama

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
photos by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama speaks Thursday at a home in Carson City. Obama made several grass-roots campaign stops in Northern Nevada on Thursday.
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Butter-thick whipped cream rises off a drink Emma Wesener hands to Illinois senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

She calls it a “kitchen sink smoothie.” Strawberries, pineapple, mango and lots of whipped cream.

When Obama came to Comma Coffee on Thursday morning, he couldn’t decide what to order. So she told him she’d make him something special.

“You didn’t tell me it would have whip cream on top,” he said, examining the drink.

But the Democrat from Chicago took a sip anyway, set down the mug and moved through a room of people shooting movies of him with their cell phones.

That morning, Carson City loved Obama.

“Want to sit on my shoulders?” a man asked Darline Harper, who was sitting behind the circle of people waiting to shake Obama’s hand.

“I’d love to,” Harper said, “but I can’t climb that high.”

Besides, she’d already talked to him.

“I think he was very charming,” said Harper, a registered Republican. “Very one of us – a normal human.”

While at the Carson Street coffee house, Obama asked people their names, jobs and how they were feeling that day.

And they told him. And he listened.

He also signed autographs, took a pictures with anyone who asked and left a phone message for a fan who couldn’t be there.

Some, like Laura Maher, seemed excited just to touch him. Seconds after he walked in the door, she hugged him.

“Yeah,” Maher said, “I got one from Hillary (Clinton), too … I didn’t ask her. I just kind of swooped in.”

He’s so genuine, supporters said. So friendly.

“He was a very nice man,” said Wesener, who offered to give him the drink for free.

All right, said the Secret Service agents when they were ready to leave. All right, people.

Obama, who was at a rally in Reno later that day, said he came to Carson City because he needs to get to know the region better.

“It looks like a terrific town,” he said.

As he crossed the street to the Legislative Building, Obama was surrounded by guards, media, campaign workers and city residents, but he stopped to shake the hand of a man watching him from the sidewalk.

“Nice legs,” Obama told the man, who was wearing shorts.

State Democrats grinned as he went with them into a closed-door meeting inside.

“I have all these legislators,” Obama said to fans trying to talk with him longer. “They’re going to be mad at me.”

Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, said she was impressed with Obama even though he didn’t go into detail about his politics.

“I think we were all just waiting at that point to shake his hand and have kind of a private little conversation with him,” she said. “I think he’s very exciting.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said she liked how Obama talked about his experience as a state legislator.

“Of course,” she said, “that’s a very popular thing for us to hear.”

Leslie said she is supporting Obama for president, and likes being in a state that has an early primary that gives her the chance to meet so many possible presidential candidates.

After Obama left the Legislative Building, he went to a home on Kings Canyon Road where amateur and professional politicians cheered a speech he gave from a flight of stairs in the living room.

Out of Iraq, Obama said. More money for education. Better care of the elderly, he said, and fair treatment of veterans.

Also: No more Bush.

The crowd cheered.

“We have a campaign that directly addresses the problems we face in the country,” he said. “But (it) reminds all of us that we’ve been through tougher times before.

“We’ve been through depression, civil war, world wars, and we’ve always come out more unified and prosperous than we have in the past. There’s no reason we can’t do that again.”

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.