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Faces in the Crowd

A recurring feature introducing people who plan to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama.

gangs.jpg Who: Kriss and Debbie Gang (pictured at right with Rashmi Bhalla and Sam Saltz [middle], who stayed with them while volunteering for the Obama campaign during the general election)
Ages: Both 48
Residence: Centerville, Ohio (suburb of Dayton)
Profession: Kriss, sales and marketing working with Fortune 500 companies; Debbie, contractor with Lexis/Nexis doing data analysis
Getting to Washington: Driving about 9 hours in a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse
D.C. Accomodations: Staying with Bhalla, 33, in her two-bedroom, 800-square-foot apartment in Woodley Park.
Reason for Attending: The Gangs volunteered up to 20 hours a week for the Obama campaign down the stretch in the general election in a key swing state. Lifelong Democrats, they live in a Republican-heavy suburb and felt demoralized after John Kerry lost in 2004. "I worked my tail off in '04 and we lost. I said, 'We're not going to lose again.' About September, it became emotionally intense: 'We've got to win this.' We had met the candidate. Every rally here, we had VIP tickets. We got a Rolling Stone cover autographed by him. By September and October, we had knocked on 2,000, 3,000 doors and talked to thousands on the phone."

But in the final weeks, campaign officials decided they needed more get-out-the-vote manpower in west Dayton, the predominantly African-American section of a still largely racially divided city. Kriss volunteered. "I had never gone over there, never had a reason to. My staging location was at a sports bar and pool hall. We got to know people. Walking with a representative of the neighborhood, I saw a community I did not know existed. It was personally transforming and made the campaign different. I never did that on the Kerry campaign. People here never see the two communities. On election day, an 82-year-old man bought me lunch at the front of the bar. He said, 'I want to thank you.' We said, 'What can we do after the election so we don’t lose this?' It was the best part of the whole campaign. He took my number and said, 'Let's make sure we keep this going.'"

By David A Nakamura  |  November 25, 2008; 10:43 AM ET  | Category:  Faces in the Crowd
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Thank you, Obama volunteers, for all your hard work and efforts that obviously paid off for America. Have fun at the inaugural!

Posted by: jhbyer | November 26, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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