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Overbooking Obama

Behind the scenes with Obama. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post).

In his reporting about Barack Obama for today's "The Front-runners" profile, Kevin Merida spoke with Jeremiah Posedel, who recalled an early lesson from Obama:

Jeremiah Posedel learned the hard way not to overschedule Barack Obama.

During Obama's 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Posedel served as the candidate's downstate director, in charge of more than 90 Illinois counties. He put together a five-day tour, seven to nine towns a day, that drew unbelievable crowds -- and Obama's wrath.

Obama, fresh off his triumphant speech at the Democratic National Convention, had thought he would be able to combine campaigning with a little family vacation. He thought he would be able to ride in an RV with his wife, Michelle, and two daughters, play some cards, take in a theme park. But no one had anticipated that the convention speech would suddenly make him an American sensation. Events were more packed than anticipated and harder to leave.

Obama had to ditch the RV, which could only roll down country roads at a slow cruising speed, and dash ahead of his family in an SUV accompanied by aides. A staffer would radio ahead from some scheduled stop: "Holy cow, you guys can't be late. There are hundreds of people here." The upshot: He spent very little time in the RV or with his family. Obama was clearly not happy.

"I was receiving the entire brunt of his frustration the entire five days," recalls Posedel, now a Chicago lawyer.
When the tour was finally over, Obama looked Posedel in the eye. "It was a great job, a great trip," he told his young aide, "but don't ever (expletive) do that to me again."

Says Posedel: "I learned my lesson."

-- Kevin Merida

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 14, 2007; 4:15 PM ET
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