Heard any good forum stories? Let us know | NevadaAppeal.com

Heard any good forum stories? Let us know

by Barry Ginter

It’s Thursday morning, and I’m looking out my office window at a driving snowstorm and thinking how fortunate it is that the presidential candidates forum was Wednesday, not today.

But then, you have to admit, good fortune was shining on Carson City all during this event, and that extends far beyond the sunshine.

I’ve heard almost nothing negative about the forum or the city, as a matter of fact, although there have been plenty of negative comments from Republicans about what the candidates said during their time on stage.

It may take awhile for people to appreciate just how special this event really was. Many of the candidates spent a great deal of time in town meeting people, stopping randomly to shake hands and have conversations. The official campaign events from here on out will be mostly in much larger cities and under much greater security.

But in Carson City, there was Hillary Clinton walking casually across Carson Street. There was Joe Biden bounding up the front stairs at the Nevada Appeal to greet the masses. There was Elizabeth Kucinich driving her husband through the foreign streets of Carson City to the Community Center.

It all felt like presidential politics from an era long since passed.

It was pretty cool, and I’m sure many residents have some great stories to tell about their experiences with the candidates and observations of the event. I’d love to hear them and share them with readers, so please call or e-mail.

As for me, I’ve got numerous observations of no great significance bouncing around in my head, and so, in no particular order:

All the candidates that I saw – six of them came to the overflow room at the Appeal – had plenty of charisma and projected a sense that they really cared about what they were saying, rather than repeating well-used campaign pitches. It’s possible that they’re just really good actors.

As for speaking ability, I have to say I was impressed with Dennis Kucinich. When I heard he was in the building, I left my office and headed for the overflow room. Halfway there, I could already hear his booming voice as he led the crowd through a pep rally. “Over the top,” was the way Mayor Marv Teixeira described it.

Kucinich may be among the most unelectable of the candidates (liberal, and very proud of it), but there is no disparity between what he says and what he believes. That trait deserves some respect.

There’s no question about who was the star of the show, however. It was Hillary. I was standing in a far corner of the overflow room at the Appeal when a buzz began that she would arrive soon. And then it occurred to me that I was standing about 2 feet away from her. There was a black curtain between us, separating the large room from the small waiting area where candidates paused after coming up the back stairwell, but enough light was coming through where I could tell it was her.

She was surrounded by people, but as I zoned in on what was being said behind the curtain rather than the loud chatter in the room, it occurred to me she was going through a quick pep rally with one of her handlers prior to being introduced on stage. It was sort of what you’d expect from a wrestler and his coach prior to running onto the mat.

The only words I remember definitively were “… I’m going to lead a positive campaign …” but there were other pronunciations along with it that I couldn’t quite hear or have forgotten. It was another pretty cool and candid moment.

In a few seconds, she was rushing onstage to loud cheers and applause.

You can see the speech she gave at the Appeal on our Web site, http://www.nevadaappeal.com. At one point, she said she wouldn’t speak for long so that the volume on the TVs could be turned back up and the gallery could watch the other candidates speaking at the same time across town at the Community Center. But people in the crowd made it clear they’d rather listen to her, and her speech went on for several more moments.

Another observation is that the event at the Appeal was a lost opportunity for the dozens of reporters who never strayed from the Community Center and its spin room. That means most of the stories they wrote, for papers all around the country, read much the same.

They all heard exactly the same thing. Many had never been in Carson City before, and probably didn’t realize that almost all of the candidates would also show up at the overflow room, where they were more relaxed and willing to mingle with the crowd and answer impromptu questions.

It would have been a great opportunity for those reporters, and we would have welcomed them inside. As it was, the Appeal reporters here were joined by a few local TV crews and a few Associated Press reporters.

My last observation is that it’s tough being a presidential candidate. As I watched the candidates shake dozens of hands, sign autograph after autograph, and answer the same questions over and over, I wondered how they can keep it up for months on end. I would have thrown in the towel after an hour.

And even if I could endure that, there’s apparently a new rule that presidential candidates can never change their minds on an issue. In other words, they either have to be perfect or they have to cross their fingers and pretend they’re perfect.

And we wonder why no one trusts our government.

•••

I didn’t hear any complaints about the presidential forum, but I’ve heard some about the closure of Fifth Street between Carson and Stewart streets during the afternoon rush hours Tuesday and Wednesday when Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign spoke to the Legislature.

Security was the reason given for the closures, but, come on, this is Carson City. Not even Hillary got that kind of treatment when she visited the Legislature.

I think I can safely speak for the rush-hour motorists caught in the snarl when I say, keep the streets open.

• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. You can reach him by e-mail at bginter@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1221