Anyone else ever go to an event and then come home and pass out for four hours?
No? Just me?
Well, that being said, I’m sure anyone who follows me on social media knows where I’m going with this blog post. I spent the day out covering former President Barack Obama’s visit to Anaheim, so I’m going to run through my experience real quick and log a couple of my more favorite live tweets from the Boom California Twitter account.
Consider this me attempting to just preserve that this happened today, since I’m still kind of in shock about it. But at he same time I feel like a pile of goo right now, so it’ll probably be a little sparse.
Just two days ago, I followed-up on a last-minute email that my professor and friend Dr. Sexton received about RSVPing to go to Obama’s event today. It was essentially a rally for a number of Democratic Congressional candidates in California.
Frankly it was a bit of a moonshot to apply for press credentials. Boom California is an online-only publication now that focuses on issues and life in California specifically, so it doesn’t necessarily fit the bill of who might be going to the event. You know, the LA Times and CNN-type publications.
But then we got the credentials.
So I was up at 4:30 a.m. or so this morning, showering and preparing to head off to the Anaheim Convention Center. Doors opened for press to get their stuff checked at 7 a.m. after all.
Luckily I found that the drive was infinitely quicker than it usually is when I’m heading to Orange County for school. So I managed to make it over before they had even finished setting up a table to check press in. Left me with some time to kill.
Then once it was all together, I got this:
Talk about a souvenir, am I right?
After everyone got their badges, they were ushered up to the third floor (where Obama and the others would later speak). We were supposed to leave our stuff up there to be checked out by the Secret Service.
At this point I met Joshua Nehmeh, who I spent a bunch of time talking with as all the major news outlets set up their stuff. He’s the host of a political talk radio show who I bonded with pretty quick because we were both caught off-guard by how easily we managed to get into such a high-end event.
Plus his show’s tagline is ‘A shot of truth with your coffee’ and it’s great. So check him out.
Around that time I also ran into Briggetta and Caitlin from the Daily Titan, who also got credentialed in for the local Orange County event, and my original news desk mentor Spencer Custodio coming in for the Voice of OC.
Got to hang out with him for a while after we all got kicked out, and that was cool.
When we were heading back to the Convention Center from Starbucks, there were two protestors standing out in front heckling a bunch of Congressional candidate volunteers who were waiting in line.
Spent a decent amount of time standing outside watching the back-and-forth, because it was so over-the-top that it was just kind of ridiculous and fun.
While I tweeted about these guys a bunch during the waiting period from my personal account, some of my favorite parts had to be these two sound clips I managed to snag:
Particularly the second one where he offered to be an executioner? Like. Holy shit dude. It was 9:30 a.m. and he was going so hard.
Most of what I had gathered from other reporters at this point suggested that Obama’s visit to Anaheim was very last minute. Almost nobody was prepared for it and even the staff at the event seemed disheveled and caught off-guard. Hell, one guy basically told me it was going to be a shitshow when I asked how the whole thing was going to go down.
I’m theorizing that perhaps one of the reasons for that unexpected nature in this event was to try and mitigate protests. Like yeah two guys managed to show up to yell at everyone about every cliché in the book, but there was clearly no big organized response to Obama’s visit.
That’s all speculation, however.
Eventually I had to leave that fun time so I could go back to the ballroom to get my stuff before the doors opened at 10 a.m.
Now, I’ll admit, I kind of underwent a covert operation at this point. We were told ahead of time that most of the press corp. would be put into overflow rooms across from the main room. In fact, when I had shown up early that morning, I was told I’d be in the overflow as well.
But when I went in to pick up my stuff… I just kind of didn’t leave. All I needed was my cell phone, since I was just live tweeting the event for Boom, so I was able to stand off to the side of the press box with my head down. Nobody ever came and told me to leave.
So I think I wound up sneaking my way into seeing Obama’s speech live.
Take that people who sneak into concerts.
Once everything began I shifted over to Boom’s Twitter account full-time. However, I didn’t have too much to do for a while.
Other than Eric Bauman, the chair of the California Democratic Party, I wasn’t really able to get a good grasp on the individuals who opened the event. Most of them didn’t introduce themselves in any specific detail because it seemed like they were just figures who Democrats would know well walking in. It was clear we were leaning toward a specific kind of audience at this rally.
To be fair, my friends at the Daily Titan had just as much trouble with this part, though they did a better job retroactively figuring out who the speakers were.
Mostly with the help of an email that came out like 10 minutes after everyone was finished telling us who they were.
Have I mentioned that the event seemed put together last-minute?
Anyway, after four-or-five speeches from people pushing for veterans and keeping the Affordable Care Act alive, there was a really long intermission.
Probably an hour’s worth of an intermission. I don’t know if we were just waiting for Obama to actually arrive, or if he was upstairs somewhere letting us marinate, but boy was it a long wait.
I was pretty much standing around the whole time, not really wanting to leave to go to the bathroom or anything because… Well… I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get back in.
But then. Like an angel. Obama descended upon our humble congregation.
Which I only say because the tweet I put out about Obama’s arrival was the biggest ‘lightning in a bottle’ from this whole event.
As of my writing this blog post, the tweet has been seen over 7,000 times, has 400+ likes and nearly 200 retweets.
That’s actually insane to me. Watching all of this attention roll in throughout and after the event made me sit there and realize that I did that.
Truly the power of social media can be insanely captivating, for as much as I tend to avoid it.
Everything else I tweeted out got very minor attention comparatively, but there were still some great things I feel I captured at the event.
I also got this great three-part Tweet chain describing Obama’s Disneyland story that he opened with. Basically, he told the audience that the first time he went to Disneyland was his first time in the mainland United States, while the second time he was kicked out for smoking with his friends.
But still told to “come back anytime” by the officers. Because Disney.
His whole speech only went on about 15 minutes after that multi-hour build-up. When it was over, everyone started to trickle out and I split. After all, my whole job was to live-tweet Obama.
Dr. Sexton seemed really pleased with what I did, and honestly so am I.
It’s a little awkward live-tweeting events because you wind up having to focus more on the tweeting than the event itself. But even with that, I have to say… Obama is just a fantastic speaker.
Like all politics aside, it’s hard not to see why (most of) America fell in love with the guy and kept him in office for two terms. He’s just a charismatic guy.
That’s kind of the tone I think I want to leave this off with, because the rest of my story would just be going home and passing out for four hours.
I’m super grateful that I got to do this. Like yeah on a basic level it’s a great resumé builder to say I covered Barack Obama live. I’ll even be updating my blog here to reflect that I did this, archiving a couple of the best-attended tweets.
But even deeper than that, it led to me having a bit of an existentially reflective moment.
When I got home it really hit me that I got to be in the same room as a President of the United States. With press credentials.
That’s just crazy to me.
I’ve had some moments of doubt over the last couple months about my place in the world and the work that I’m doing, to be completely honest. But my promotion at Gladeo and the opportunity to attend this event really turned that around.
I’m excited to see what the next big thing I’ll be doing is!