Outside the Stadium, Looking in
By Alec MacGillis
DENVER -- There are a lot of people inside the Invesco Field football stadium -- an astonishing turnout for a political event. But for all the people packed in here, there are others who got left outside.
Kiki Farley, a retired teacher in Denver, volunteered often for the Obama campaign last winter when it targeted the Colorado caucus as one of its key states in the battle against Hillary Clinton, helping Obama rack up a handsome delegate pile in the Rocky Mountain state.
She made phone calls, served as a precinct captain and contributed money. Her husband Gordon Farley, a retired physician, picked up the baton when the campaign moved into the general election, going door to door in Denver every other week.
But when the couple called the campaign a few weeks ago to inquire about getting tickets to the big night here, they were told there was a huge waiting list and that they might not be able to get in. What would help their chances, the campaign said, was if Kiki Farley agreed to campaign six more hours on behalf of Obama.
This was in keeping with the campaign's attempt to use admission as an incentive to commit to organizing work. But it irked Kiki Farley, who felt that she should get some credit for working for Obama back when he was still a much longer shot. So she said no thanks. The campaign said it would call back about whether there would be slots, she says, but never did.
"She was kind of offended by the request. She feels that she's done her job," said Gordon Farley. "It was kind of strange. They seem to have a standard way of accepting people and rejecting people and we fell into the rejection basket."
Volunteers like the Farleys who could not get inside may not be thrilled to know about people like Isabel Melvin, a 45-year-old snowboarding instructor who splits her time between Colorado and Philadelphia who said she got a ticket to the big night from a friend who is putting up Obama supporters in his home and gave her a ticket because he "knows I'm an active Democrat."
Melvin hasn't yet volunteered for Obama, but she was one of the several dozen who were sitting in a stadium concourse making calls to undecided Colorado voters, urging them to watch Obama's speech. She called 13, of whom only a few picked up the phone. She said she will also go door to door for Obama in Philadelphia, which she figures is more important than Colorado because it has more electoral college votes.
Farley will continue to volunteer, and both he and his wife will vote for Obama, but his wife does not have enough time these days to volunteer as before. By this afternoon, he had reconciled himself to not coming to the stadium, saying he was relieved not to have to deal with the traffic and long security lines. "I'm not so bend out of shape about it," he said. "I'm enjoying watching on TV."
Web Politics Editor
August 28, 2008; 10:32 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Conventions , Democratic Party
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