Friday, August 29, 2008

Watching the spectacle -- on TV

Kane Farabaugh
Special to The Times

When our hotel shuttle bus brought us to the Pepsi Center Thursday morning, the line of people waiting to get into nearby Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium was a sign of things to come.

We all knew this day was meant to be big, historic and busy. But moving a convention from a heavily fortified and secure area to an open-air arena with tens of thousands of people is something just shy of a miracle to execute.

I made my way to Invesco field the day before Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's big moment to gather footage and interviews of the work under way to set the stage for one of the biggest political acceptance speeches in history.

When I arrived, crews were busy putting the final touches on the podium where Obama would speak. I gathered footage, and when I finally stopped filming, I realized I was standing at a place that would soon become a moment in history people might remember.

As I stood behind the podium, I looked out at all the empty seats that soon would be filled with those who would trek far and wide to witness history in person. I glanced up at the screen where Obama would read his acceptance speech, and I took a moment to soak in the importance of what I've been able to see and what I've been able to witness this week in Denver.

Just after my visit to Invesco Field, I ran into an old acquaintance I had worked with in Charleston, W.Va. Erik Wells is a former news anchor with the ABC station there. He ran for the House of Representatives against Republican Shelly Moore Capito in 2004, and lost the general election. He now is in West Virginia state politics and was a delegate at this week's convention.

He was a pledged delegate to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, and was someone I was eager to meet with to understand his position and learn how events would play out on the floor of the convention during the state's roll call.

He informed me he just attended a meeting Clinton had with her delegates, where she released them from their obligation to vote for her, enabling them to vote for Obama. Though Wells supported Clinton because of her plans for health care, he has no problem now supporting Obama.

"When you take a look at what took place in this process, Barack Obama won. I happen to support somebody who did not get enough delegates. But in the end, I'm supporting the candidate because we need some change in this country and that's why I'm going to support Barack Obama."

In the end, Clinton made it easy on Wells. She appeared on the floor of the convention with the New York delegation to move to suspend the state's roll call vote and award Obama the Democratic Party nomination by acclamation.

Though it's not the outcome Wells hoped for when he pledged to support Clinton, he was eager to make the move to Invesco Field now that the official party business was at an end.

"This is going to be the first time that we're going to have this type of convention speech since John Kennedy in 1960. Already we've been told that 90,000 people in Denver have signed up to try to get a ticket to get into the stadium."

If indeed there were that many people attending the event, it was hard to miss them throughout a large area around Invesco the day of the speech.

A line that was at least a mile long formed by midday, held up mostly from the detailed security checks.

As irony would have it, my moment behind the podium on the field the day before the speech would be the only time I would set foot inside the arena during the Democratic National Convention.

The crowds of people, as well as the tight restrictions on media before, during and after his speech, meant I might miss my early morning flight today. As my week of coverage in Denver came to a close, the climatic moment of the DNC was a moment in history I shared with most of America ... on the television.

But there is more news to cover, more moments to record and still one more acceptance speech on the road to the final push for the White House. As the wheels of the plane go up in Denver they soon shall land in St. Paul, Minn., where the Republicans take the stage to make their case for Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Kane Farabaugh is a Midwest-based TV and radio correspondent with Voice of America ( He is covering the 2008 Presidential election for VOA. A 1995 graduate of Ottawa Township High School, Farabaugh recently returned to Ottawa, where he now lives with his family. He's worked for various commercial TV stations as a reporter and anchor as well as the American Forces Network Europe based in Germany. The views expressed in this column are Farabaugh's and do not represent the views of Voice of America.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Carter Backs Obama - VOA Story

Carter supports Obama, looks to change US image abroad - Ottawa Daily Times

Kane Farabaugh
Special to The Times

In 1976, energy security and gas prices were a growing concern for Americans. Inflation was rising, and many Americans were disenfranchised with the Republican administration then in power.

Sound familiar?

Former President Jimmy Carter might agree. In 1976 he ran for president against Gerald Ford. He was a relatively young and promising Democrat from the South. Some 32 years later, the issues that drove voters to the ballot then are similar to the themes of the campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain.

"I ran on a platform of change. Of course, that's what America was ready for," Carter said, smiling at the similarity to the current Obama campaign message of "Change You Can Believe In."

"The difference between me and Obama is I didn't have any money."

I talked one-on-one with Carter in a wide-ranging interview for Voice of America in the Pepsi Center studios of the Democratic National Convention Committee.

It is the fourth time I've interviewed the former Georgia governor and president. In our last interview in Chicago in April, I asked him if he would endorse Obama. This was during the primary season when it was not clear if New York Sen. Hillary Clinton or Obama would emerge as the clear front-runner. Carter preferred to keep an endorsement close to his chest until the primary season was over.

Now that Obama is on the verge of securing his place in history as the first black person to receive the nomination of a major political party for president, Carter is more candid and open about his support for Obama.

"He carried Plains, Ga. We only have 180 voters. He carried my home and got all the votes in my family. There's 26 of us, but I think that demonstration that he has done already that the last vestiges of racial discrimination or racism are crumbling."

Obama's message of change resonates with voters across the race, age and gender spectrum. But his critics contend that Sen. Obama's vision is more rhetoric than substance. Carter thinks Obama has a rare opportunity to use that message of change to improve the tarnished U.S. image abroad. And, according to Carter, he could do it in the first 10 minutes of his presidency, should he win in November.

"In his inaugural address, he can say. 'When I am president of the United States, we will never torture another prisoner. While I am president of the United States, we will never go to war against another country unless our own security is directly threatened.

" 'When I am president of the United States we will be the champion of human rights all over the Earth. When I am president of the United States, the United States will be in the forefront of leadership of dealing with environmental questions including global warming,' and things of that kind.

"But you see, in 10 minutes, he could spell out for the world and for America of course, the changes he could make. And all of those things he could either do by executive order or he could do by just leadership."

Foreign policy issues plagued Carter's presidency. The hostage crisis in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which led to Carter's boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, contributed to his 1980 election defeat to Ronald Reagan.

Dealing with the Soviet Union (which included what now are Russia and the Republic of Georgia) and its nuclear arsenal was one of the top foreign policy issues Carter had to deal with as president. Now, after Russia's military action in Georgia, he sees that region of the world playing a larger role in U.S. foreign policy.

"I'm not defending Russia, but we still need to be sensitive to how they feel as they are surrounded by increasingly friendly nations to the West," Carter explained. "The purpose of NATO is in effect to be an enemy of the then Soviet Union. The more pressure we put on Russia the more we are likely to see Russia react in a very improper way. And in a way that is what has happened so far."

Though Carter makes headlines, such as the firestorm his book "Palestine, Peace not Apartheid" created, the former president and head of the Democratic Party has kept a relatively low profile in U.S. politics. He rarely campaigns on behalf of other political candidates. He focuses much attention on the international peace and medical work of the Carter Center, and the efforts of Habitat for Humanity, which helps build homes for the needy.

He has made several trips to New Orleans, including work trips for Habitat. His appearance at this year's Democratic National Convention focused on that issue. A film that showed Carter talking with Hurricane Katrina victims preceded his only official appearance at the DNC. He and wife Rosalyn took the stage after a brief introduction and waved to the crowd.

He never spoke a word, and still the audience gave the former president a rousing cheer.

Even though it has been almost three decades since Carter sat in the White House, he has done much more beyond that office. He is a Nobel Laureate, a Grammy award winner and best-selling author of more than 20 books. And he isn't finished.

As he continues to write another book, he also is pushing an international coalition -- led by the Carter Center -- forward in the quest to rid the world of Guinea Worm Disease, an illness that afflicts villagers in many remote parts of Africa. If successful, which Carter insists will happen, it would be the first parasitic disease eradicated from the planet.

Kane Farabaugh is a Midwest-based TV and radio correspondent with Voice of America ( He is covering the 2008 Presidential election for VOA. A 1995 graduate of Ottawa Township High School, Farabaugh recently returned to Ottawa, where he now lives with his family. He's worked for various commercial TV stations as a reporter and anchor as well as the American Forces Network Europe based in Germany. The views expressed in this column are Farabaugh's and do not represent the views of Voice of America.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Former President Jimmy Carter at the DNC


A smile and handshake after the interview


Carter believes that Obama can change foreign perceptions of America "in the first ten minutes" if his presidency.


President Carter thinks that a resurgent Russia will dominate future U.S. foreign policy.

These are just pics to post up immediately.

A print story and blog will follow tomorrow.



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Democratic past and future come together in Denver - Ottawa Daily Times


Kane Farabaugh
Special to The Times

DENVER - Overwhelming. That's the best way to describe my initial impression of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Overwhelming because of the number of people packed into the Pepsi Center. Overwhelming because of the number of events, news stories and protests going on around the city.

I've had a few conversations with colleagues at Voice of America who agree it is easy to lose focus covering a political convention because of everything that is packed into a four-day period. It's understood we won't be able to cover it all. But there are key stories to follow, key people to interview and key events that lead up to Sen. Barack Obama's nomination for president by the Democratic Party.

One such event was Monday night's main speaker, Michelle Obama. She already is a popular figure on the campaign trail. Her handshake or autograph is just as sought after as her husband's. She has an appeal that Democrats hope will win over undecided female voters and Hillary Clinton supporters. Both groups are key to Obama's election success in November.

But if Michelle Obama was the main event that packed the Pepsi Center, the appearance of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy was one of the most electrifying moments on the convention floor so far.

The crowd cheers Senator Edward Kennedy as he arrives on the Convention floor

The news came down earlier in the day Kennedy would speak during prime time. My particular assignment this night was to accompany VOA's White House correspondent Paula Wolfson on the floor of the convention, to help film the people and sights she would encounter while finding interviews for the live VOA program she was reporting for. A specific destination for us was to be with the Massachusetts delegation when Kennedy arrived at the podium.

But this convention can be somewhat unconventional at times. On the way there we quite literally ran into New Mexico governor and former presidential candidate Bill Richardson, who gave us a few key comments about what Obama needs to do to win in November.

Our endeavor to strategically position ourselves in the Massachusetts section also was sidetracked by the surprise appearance of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, now Barack Obama's running mate. He was right behind us, seated with his family in the skybox of DNC Chairman and former Presidential candidate Howard Dean.

By the time we finally settled in with the Massachusetts delegation, Kennedy, ailing from brain cancer, took the stage amid a chorus of cheers from the audience in a sea of signs bearing his historic family name.

It brought tears to the eyes of Massachusetts delegate Kim Whittaker.

"I think Sen. Kennedy has done so much for the people of Massachusetts, for the people of the country. He's been such a champion for health care, you know, to help people who haven't had the voice in Washington."

Kennedy's appearance at the convention helped continue the momentum Obama gained over the weekend in Springfield when he introduced Joe Biden as his pick for vice president. Kennedy endorsed Obama before the Massachusetts primary earlier this year, but it didn't help him win the state. Hillary Clinton carried that primary election, and she still carries a large number of delegates into this week's convention.

It remains a source of some concern about how her committed delegates will cast their roll call vote later this week. Clinton's name will be placed in nomination Wednesday night, and fears about a boisterous floor demonstration are growing. A sign that while Kennedy represents the past and Michelle Obama represents the future, there still are obstacles in the way of party unity that makes getting through the present the top priority for the Democratic Party well before the Tuesday, Nov. 4, election.

CNN = Politics. Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer on the floor

But for a journalist covering this event, holding a precious floor pass that gives unfettered access to the venue, a boisterous demonstration is the kind of scenario, overwhelming or not, that makes for a memorable moment on this historic path to the presidency.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thousands turn out for Obama Springfield rally to take part in history - Ottawa Daily Times


Kane Farabaugh
Special to The Times

SPRINGFIELD - I began the week preparing for an extended stay away from home covering both the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. Before the week was out, I was preparing for a detour at the beginning of my political odyssey, and I hadn't arrived at the first convention.
When word came down earlier in the week that Sen. Barack Obama was planning a rally at the Old Capitol building in Springfield, most reporters knew it could mean only one thing. There was no specific indication in the initial e-mail from the campaign this would be the introduction of Obama's running mate and the unveiling of the ticket that will take his campaign into the November elections.

By the time I arrived in Springfield Friday night to prepare for the Saturday rally, that choice was still a mystery to the media speculating on television about who it might be and those who were beginning to set up to cover Saturday's main event.

In the restaurant at the bottom of the Springfield Hilton, instead of sports programming on the monitors around the bar, CNN was on. For me, there would be no text message from Obama's campaign, no e-mail in my inbox in time to warn me. I found out from Larry King, who introduced the breaking news that Delaware Sen. Joe Biden was Obama's choice for VP.

I did happen to receive a phone call in the middle of the night, which I assumed might be the delayed text message or announcement. It indeed was an announcement of the VP pick, only from a friend in New Mexico who wanted to make sure I heard the news in the event I had slept through the most anticipated news story this summer.

I awoke early Saturday to prepare for the 2 p.m. rally. By the time I arrived at 6 a.m. to set up my camera equipment near the stage, most of the risers for the media were filled with cameras. We were asked to leave the area between 9 and 11 a.m. to allow a security sweep of our equipment. Luckily I had two cameras with me, and I set off for the growing line of Obama supporters who were waiting for the gates to open for the rally.

Springfield native Chris Trudeau had the distinction of being the first person in line. He arrived at 8 p.m. the day before -- well before the news broke that Biden was the VP pick -- and by the time I caught up with him some 13 hours later, he didn't seem the least bit tired.


Trudeau was a pro at this line-waiting thing ... he did the same thing back in February 2007 when Obama launched his campaign, also from the Old State Capitol.

Winding around four city blocks of downtown Springfield were all those who came after Trudeau this time around. At each corner, vendors and salesmen peddled election-related memorabilia. At the Official Obama Merchandise store, workers were busy putting up newly made shirts and buttons that now included Biden's name, just below Obama's. Sitting in the shade near these vendors, playing "Go Fish" with a deck of Obama playing cards, was Beth Mosher from Sandwich.

She and her husband brought their three children to witness the historic occasion. In our interview, she explained how her husband recently lost his job, which she attributes to the loss of manufacturing jobs in Illinois and corporate downsizing. That was the big reason she and her family are supporting Obama and why they were thrilled to learn Joe Biden is on the ticket.

Mosher and her family pin the hopes of their future on the success of Obama's campaign promise to bring jobs back to America.

This is a theme Obama touched on briefly in his introduction of Biden on the stage in front of the Old Capitol later that afternoon. In the sweltering heat and humidity, Obama described Biden as a man who understands the troubles facing the American middle class, as the son of an Irish Catholic, working-class family from Scranton, Pa., who has proven himself as a champion of the workers from his home state of Delaware.


Both speeches by Obama and Biden focused largely on biography, which is the reason Obama chose the Delaware senator as his running mate. It's why critics, including Republican challenger John McCain and longtime friend of Biden's, say the selection of Biden supports their argument Obama isn't experienced enough to lead the country.

By the time the speech was over and the pundits and talk radio personalities began to weigh in, a catchphrase had already taken root that explained Biden's selection and real value to the Democratic ticket in November -- "Attack Dog."

It was something Chris Trudeau, an ardent Obama supporter, agreed would help him win in November.

"Biden will be able to put across those more aggressive messages that just don't seem palatable when Obama does it."

The next time the two senators appear together will be in just a few days during the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Obama has a full campaign schedule in the days leading up to his appearance and acceptance speech.


The buzz surrounding the occasion seems to focus on the historic aspect of Obama's campaign and his presumptive nomination. This makes the opportunity to cover Obama's effort to win the White House in November an exciting news story I feel privileged to cover. It's also why I can appreciate Chris Trudeau's dedication to wait in line for almost 20 hours for the rally or why Mosher and her family traveled from Sandwich to see Obama in person. There's a sense history is in the making this election cycle, and what happens in November could shape more than just the next four years. It could have far-reaching effects on future generations, and more and more people want to be able to say they were there when it happened. I'm no exception.

Kane Farabaugh is a Midwest-based TV and radio correspondent with Voice of America ( He is covering the 2008 Presidential election for VOA. A 1995 graduate of Ottawa Township High School, Farabaugh recently returned to Ottawa, where he now lives with his family. He's worked for various commercial TV stations as a reporter and anchor as well as the American Forces Network Europe based in Germany. The views expressed in this column are Farabaugh's and do not represent the views of Voice of America.

Monday, August 18, 2008

In the Olympic Spirit - USA Womens Beach Volleyball

I'm sure that by now most of you have tuned in at some point to watch the Olympics.

I'm in the spirit as well... and had a chance to catch up with two of the bigger stars this year...

Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh.

Here is the VOA News Story on YouTube: