At Cafe, Obama Campaigns One-on-One
By Robert Barnes
GEORGETOWN, Ohio -- Amidst fields of brittle soybeans and brown stalks of corn, with a shiny half-moon replacing a golden sun, a couple celebrating their 48th year as husband and wife and a diehard Republican cafe owner and a little boy with big ears met a man who has big ears himself, and says it is time to give Democrats a try and who is of the opinion that "nothing's better than a good marriage."
They all came together at a little place called the Fireside Restaurant, where Barack Obama for a few minutes Thursday evening put aside million-dollar television buys and debates watched by millions and rallies where his name is chanted by thousands and tried to convince one man to vote for him.
"Hello, everybody, how are you?" Obama said, as a handful of reporters and camera crews recorded the event, and many more waited outside.
The restaurant's pie counter immediately caught his attention -- "I'm gettin' some pie, I don't know what you're gonna do" -- and so, of course, did something called the Big O: a double cheeseburger, which Obama ordered to go, with lettuce, tomato and mustard.
He shook hands with a 7-year-old and mentioned his own 7-year-old, Sasha.
He met a woman named Kayla and said, "I almost named my daughter Kayla."
He introduced himself to Pat and Don McElroy, who were having an early dinner for their anniversary. Don told Obama that he generally does what his wife tells him to do, and the Illinois senator laughed and said he does the same. "Whatever she tells me to do, I do that," said the man who would be president. "That's why we've been married 15 years.''
He posed for a photo with a little boy with big ears, and remarked on his own prominent lobes.
"We got the same ears," Obama told the boy. "We got power in 'em."
After employees told him that their boss was a diehard Republican, Obama sought him out.
"What you're going to do is you're going to decide for the first time in your life to vote Democratic," Obama told Fireside's owner William Seip. "You're you're going to vote me into office.
"I'm serious, you think about it -- who's been in charge these past 8 years?"
Seip: "The Republicans."
Obama: "How's it going so far?"
Seip: "Down the drain."
"Well, why wouldn't you want to just try something new for a while?" Obama asked. "If you keep on hitting your head against the wall and nothing happens, you might just think to yourself, 'Well, let me just try it out. Democrats can't do any worse. They might do better.' So you think about that."
Obama's order was ready, and far down the road, thousands were waiting for another Obama rally. In the parking lot there were three buses, and a half-dozen SUVs and the Secret Service and a squad of motorcycle cops, waiting to ferry the candidate away.
Seip did not tell reporters how he would vote. "You never know," he said.
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