Knock, Knock

By staff May 1, 2008

Who’s there? Me, going door to door for Obama in Indiana.


By Charlie Huisking


When I knocked on Sarasota doors for Kelly Kirschner during last year's city commission campaign, people were glad to see me coming. Well, actually, they were glad to see Kelly, whom I accompanied on a walk through some neighborhoods. My job was basically holding the map and the extra brochures.


Canvassing for votes was a lot tougher this week in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I'm campaigning for Barack Obama.


It's not that people don't like Obama here. Many people who answered their doors told me they were eager to vote for him on May 6. But times are tough here in Fort Wayne. The economy is terrible, unemployment is high, and crime is way up (there were eight murders in a recent two-week period). So many people are wary about opening their door to a stranger, particularly one with a clipboard and a handful of brochures in his hand.


Some cracked their doors only an inch or two, took a flyer and quickly said goodbye. One house had a "No Solicitors. This Means You" sign on the door.


So I didn't knock and merely left the brochure under the mat. But the homeowner screamed at me anyway. "Hey, can't you read?" he bellowed.

"I'm not soliciting, I'm just leaving you information," I stammered.

Adding to my frustration, I was canvassing in what passes for spring in

Indiana: a cold rain and 45-degree temperatures. To top it off, the umbrella I bought at Kroger's broke after an hour.


Just when my passion for politics was about to burn out, I knocked on the door of a woman who told me she was torn between Obama and Hillary Clinton.


"What can I tell you to help you decide?" I asked her. For the next 15 minutes, I rattled off Obama's positions on health care, jobs and Iraq, and also talked about the personal attributes that I admire. Maybe she was humoring me because I was dripping wet, but as I left she said she thought she'd vote for Obama.


I must confess I don't expect Obama to win next week. This is a very conservative state. A columnist in the local paper noted, "It's difficult for many people here to vote for a woman as president, but voting for a black man is an even bigger hurdle. It's not that we're racist, but we don't like change." (Well, don't rule out the fact you might be a tad bit racist).


I got back to Obama headquarters just in time to hear him in a telephone conference call to statewide volunteers and staff. He thanked us all for our efforts, and apologized for the "static" that the Reverend Wright controversy had caused.


"Thank you for believing, not in me, but in yourselves, and in the change you can help bring about," he said. Suddenly, I didn't feel cold at all.




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